After John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus moved his mission to the gentile region of Galilee. He does this in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. Matthew quotes that prophecy in verse 16. Regarding the mission to this predominantly gentile community, Matthew writes, “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.”

The messianic mission includes everyone. The object of Christ’s love is, as John 3:16 puts it, the whole world. We all dwell in this dark world and we all walk through the valley of the shadow of death. There is a “great light” by which God intends for us all to become enlightened. In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

One of our songs says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, who shall I fear, of whom shall I be afraid?” The assumed answer of course is “no one.” The savior is our deliverer. He sets us free from the fear of death. We are translated from a kingdom of darkness into a kingdom of God’s own son, a kingdom of light. Jesus, the light of the world, shines down on all the children of darkness. Later he will call us “the light of the world.” We are called to let this light shine so that people will turn to God. Just as He went into the “gentile” region to shine the light of life, we too need to shine that light on those around us.

In the Chapel of St. George, in Westminster Abbey, is a memorial of World War II. It consists of four bound volumes that contain the names of the 60,000 civilians who were killed in the city of London by enemy action. One volume lies open on the shrine and a light shines down upon the typescript names that appear on that opened page. Each day a page is turned.

We are to turn the pages!

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)