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Dwelling in the region and shadow of *****

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah [around BC 710] might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “…”  Matthew 4: 8-10            [AD 30]

 

 He’s not in a good place at the moment.” Have you heard that description of another person?

 

Are you – am I – in a good place at the moment? One sobering answer will silence Jersey at 11 a.m. this coming Sunday, 11 November, Remembrance Day. We’re dwelling in a war zone – this planet. The brutal truth about the brutality of WW1 was recorded by Artilleryman Clarence Ahier (from St Clement, Jersey) and re-told in a new book by Ian Ronayne.

 

Take a look now at the words in bold above. Notice a few clearly stated matters about the physical re-domiciliation of Jesus–

 

1.     It occurred as soon as John the Baptist (who had pointed to Jesus as the Son of the Most High God) had been “arrested”. That word is paradidomi. It means “given over”. It will be used later of Jesus himself. He was “given over” by Judas. He was “given over” to the Romans. He was “given over” to the criminal’s cross. Not a good place.

2.     Jesus withdrew into “Galilee” – an area which, although part of the Jewish “Promised Land” had been wholly taken over by others. Galilee of the Gentiles, Galilee of the Heathen. Not a good place.

3.     Capernaum was in “the territory of Zebulun and Napthali.” Who were they? Two of the original twelve tribes of Israel. But those tribes had been totally wiped 700 years earlier because they had departed from the Living God. A place of earlier downfall. Not a good place.

4.     The place was “in darkness”.

5.     The people were “dwelling in the region and shadow of *****.” The abiding place of all the people was in the shadow of *****.

 

Why did he make his dwelling there? The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of *****, on them a light has dawned.

 

What about tiny Jersey? Are we in a good place?

 

1)     Is it a place where the “paradidomi” of Jesus is taking place – where he is virtually being delivered over into oblivion?

2)     Is Jersey Christian or heathen? Assessing the answer by the visible actions of folk around us?

3)     Is it a place where the people of God, the followers of Jesus, used to follow him but, by and large, no longer do so? Back in the time of Queen Elizabeth 1, Jersey folk were strongly devoted to the Lord Jesus and to the true and faithful following of the man of Calvary. Back in the time of John Wesley and the decades following (circa 1780 – 1850) such was the devotion of Jersey folk to Christ that 33 Methodist Chapels were built and active.

4)     Is there “darkness” here? Chosen darkness?

5)     Are we all abiding (apparently happily) in the shadow of *****? (I don’t need to fill in the word, do I?)

 

What then and what now?

 

The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.” “On those dwelling in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned.”

 

And what did Jesus say to these folk then? See bold above. “Change your minds – because heaven’s realm is here.”

 

This coming Sunday we are still in the shadow of *****. That’s been a feature of this world for many, many centuries.

 

What of the light which dawned in AD 30? It’s been extinguished in our land – despite the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And those most responsible for concealing it are the “followers” of Jesus…..

 
‘It is of no advantage to be near the light if the eyes are closed.' (Augustine, Philosopher and Theologian, 354-430)
 
'The penalty of living in the darkness is not merely that one does not see, but that one goes blind.' (David Smith)
 
RichardSyvret

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