Hope in the Messiah
“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.”
Isaiah 9:1-2 NLT
“When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.” From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.””
Matthew 4:12-17 NLT
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
John 1:1-5 NLT
Hi friend! It's been a minute on here, hasn't it? So many words have been swirling on paper and a never-ending notes on my computer, but even still, words are hard. The right ones seem even harder to put together. These days, I don't feel right or optimistic about all kinds of things. Maybe you relate. I've been looking for hope and Truth in the midst of darkness. Turns out it comes when least expected. Clearly and softly in my mind as I pulled a batch of cookies out of the oven, I heard this: in a land of deep darkness, a light shines. This still small voice sent me straight to Isaiah 9, a treasured passage. And you know what? The passage title above those verses reads: Hope in the Messiah. Yes! My hope in Jesus writes a different story with redeemed perspective. My hope is this: in this land of deep darkness, the light of our Lord still shines today. So I'm trading optimistic for hope-timistic. After all, we can't have it without Gospel-filled hope. Darkness can't steal our hope; it ignites it. Light shines in darkness, and darkness can't extinguish it.
John 1 marvels that Jesus was with God at the beginning of creation, united as eternally One with the Trinity. His Word is our source of hope because Jesus is every bit of His Word. I love how a footnote in The Passion Translation puts it: "He is the divine self-expression of all that God is, contains, and reveals in incarnated flesh. Just as we express ourselves in words, God has perfectly expressed Himself in Christ. Jesus is God's story." (John 1:1 TPT 2nd footnote.) So when our hope is in God's Word, we know He's good for it. His Word isn't only life; it's our light, reminding us of those same words from Isaiah 9: the light shines in the darkness...His life brought light to everyone and still does. He's our hope; our steadfast anchor when things feel upside down.
Matthew 4 holds hands with this Old Testament Truth from Isaiah 9 -- "For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine." The prophecy of light coming to the dark world of course points to Jesus, and is fulfilled both in place and person. The region of Zebulun and Naphtali mentioned in Isaiah 9 is exactly where Jesus went, as told in Matthew 4! Just as He promised. God's Word is true from start to finish in Jesus' Name.
This hope is our story here today. No matter where we are now, our home is set by God's grace. We don't just have hope. May we abound in hope and share it with others. We all need it. Sharing hope is just as life giving as receiving hope. May our stories be beacons of hope! God knows exactly who needs to hear yours. Be brave beacons. Be hope beacons. Let His light shine!
I hope a glimmer of light reaches into where you are here and now. Maybe you're in the middle of a mundane moment, a moment of fear, a healing moment, or trying to savor one of joy. Wherever you are, you are made for hope and light. And our stories are made to point back to the greatest One of all. I don't want to miss it! Whether you share with a close friend over coffee or a college classroom or a church crowd, our God listens to every word. He hears our prayers and our stories. And at the right time, He sends exactly who needs to hear it. Perhaps you are the one needing to hear someone else's story too. His Word is always alive and relevant right where we are; echoing this promise: Jesus is God's story. And He is working in the midst of ours. Friend, may we rest in that today! May we be hope-timistic, and share with those in our path. Hope in the Messiah is joyfully contagious, amen? The very best kind. May it be so.