The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light …

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
The prophecy has been spoken – ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given…’. The prophecy has been fulfilled – ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (Isaiah 9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’ – for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did – ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour… for the Mighty One has done great things for me…’. Let us join with the angels in saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest…’ (Luke 2:10; Luke 1:46-50; Luke 2:14).

All The Grace Comes From God, And All The Glory Goes To God.
1 Corinthians speaks “to people everywhere who call on the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2). In 1 Corinthians 1, our attention is drawn to Christ, He is mentioned in every one of the first ten verses  of this chapter. The focus on Christ continues in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. He  is much more important than the messengers who are sent to preach His Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, we learn that the Gospel of Christ turns human wisdom upside down. Through the Gospel, we see things from God’s point of view – not man’s. In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, we learn that all the grace comes from God, and all the glory goes to God.

Christ Triumphs Over Satan – And He Leads Us In The Way Of His Triumph.
Having overcome His enemy, Jesus begins His ministry. Satan will be back – Luke ends his account of Jesus’ temptations with these ominous words, ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left until an opportune time’ (Matthew 4:12). Satan will try again, but – for now – he has failed to stop Jesus setting out on His ministry, a ministry which brings light into the darkness. The light is shining brightly – ‘the Kingdom of heaven is near’ (Matthew 4:17). Jesus’ ministry is viewed as a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 4:15-16; Isaiah 9:1-2). The prophecy had been given: Death will be overcome, men and women will be delivered from ‘the shadow of death’. Now, in Christ, the prophecy has been fulfilled: by His death, Christ has destroyed ‘him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil’ and He has set ‘free’ those who live in ‘fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Christ’s victory over the world was won for us (1 John 3:8: 1 John 5:4-5). Jesus was not a loner. He was a team leader: ‘From victory to victory His army He will lead’ (Church Hymnary, 481). At the very outset of His ministry, He set about putting together His ministry team. Peter, Andrew, James and John were the first four disciples. He called them to follow Him. His call was both gracious and demanding. It is gracious because it is the Saviour who calls us: ‘Follow Me’. It is demanding because He calls us to follow, to submit to His Lordship: ‘Follow Me’. These men were called to a new kind of ‘fishing’ (Matthew 4:19). Jesus’ ministry reached ‘great crowds’ through His ‘teaching… preaching… and healing’ (Matthew 4:23-25). This chapter sets the scene for Jesus’ ministry. We see the Word of the Lord triumphant over Satan, fulfilled in Christ, and effective in the lives of the disciples and the crowds.

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