Summary: A sermon for the 3rd sunday of Epiphany, Year A from Matthew 4: 12-25

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Matthew 4: 12-25 Darkness shattering, light following, Disciples

I was washing dishes Friday night,

[Yeah, I do that sort of thing]

And everything suddenly

Went dark.

Our electric power,

Along with the electric power

of a few neighbors,

Went out.

You know what the first thing I did was?

I started


for the nearest


I knew where a flash light was,

And went right over to where I thought it was.

Of course, I knocked the little flashlight off the counter

And had to feel around for it on the floor, for a little while,

But eventually,

I had


And with that first light

In my hand,

I went for even more light,

Then more light,

Till we’d rounded up the other flashlights,

Lit the candles,

And turned on the gas fireplace.

Which was a good idea,

Since the power was off

Till almost midnight.

Well, I’m sure you’ve had

Similar experiences.

You know what it is

To be in darkness

And search for


But, it isn’t just

A home

Without electric power,

Or a street

When a transformer goes,

That gets




In the gospel of Matthew,

It is a whole land,

An entire people,






For the


This is not the kind of darkness

That falls

When a light switch is flipped.

The people, all of them,

Dwell in the shadows

Of death.

This, clearly,

Is no easy darkness.

Indeed, from the beginning

Of Matthew’s story of Jesus,

we have already seen

the shadows of darkness

And death

At work.

It’s darkness falling

when the children (of Bethlehem)

Are easily killed, at the say-so of a powerful man.

And mothers weep and wail.

It’s darkness falling

when a young family led by Joseph,

Is forced to leave their home in the night.

It’s darkness falling

when people turn away from God

And the purposes of God

And turn toward sin.

It’s darkness falling

when the devil - (before Jesus no less!)

Claims ownership over the world

And all its splendor.

It’s darkness falling

when God’s prophet,

John the Baptist,

is imprisoned.

And an attempt is made

To silence God’s word.

It’s darkness falling

In the land of Zebulon and Naphtali

When people lived in poverty,

Struggling to survive

The brutality of the day,

While some ruled in luxury.

It’s darkness falling

When people live with

“various diseases and pain”

Without relief,

Without help.

For just the first four chapters of Matthew,

That’s a lot of shadows!

That’s a lot of darkness!

It’s too much.

But, as I consider the kind

Of dark and shadowy things

That happen in the opening chapters of Matthew,

And find those same things happening

In our world, in our time,

in our land, among too many people,

Children killed,

9 year olds murdered,

Legs of an infant broken,

Families forced from their homes,

Foreclosed, suddenly homeless,

The word of God silenced,

those who speak it persecuted:

arrested, bombed,

In Egypt, in Iran, In Pakistan,

And people in pain,

Physically, emotionally, spiritually,

And many people openly turned

Against the purposes and will of God

It seems that there is also

Too much darkness

In our time,


We grope about,

Lost and confused,

Among the shadows.

We sit in the darkness,

Like the people

Of Capernaum,

Of Zebulon and Naphtali.

But, it is to those

Who sit in darkness,

Who dwell in darkness,

Who live, night and day, in darkness,

That the gospel is bold to proclaim:

A light, a great light, dawns,

And a new morning begins.

Because of Jesus.

It seems

John the Baptist

Has been


So, Jesus

Moves from Nazareth

To Capernau,

By way of the Sea of Galilee.

Let this in no way

Be taken as a kind of escape for Jesus,

Or as a desire on his part

To get away from the risks.

In fact,


Was even bigger, busier place

than Nazareth,

And there, Jesus would have access

to more people.

So, rather than getting away,

Jesus is chosen that very public place,

That place of darkness,

To begin shining

His light.

In doing so,

Jesus fulfills the scriptures.

He’s making it clear,

The Word of God

Lives in him.

And in fact, Jesus lives his life,

Turned completely, totally to

The will and purposes of God.

And in doing so,

His life

And light

Shatter the darkness

And defeat the power

Of death.

Now, at this point in the gospel,

We don’t know all that ways

And all the places

And all the people

That his death defeating,

Darkness shattering,

Light is gonna shine

We don’t know - yet,

How it will keep shining

on a cross,

Or how it will burst through

And empty a tomb,

That will happen.

But we can

Even from this far into the story,

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