In Matthew 4:16, we are told that the people dwelling in the region where Jesus began his ministry dwell in the shadow of death. This is not only true for them, but for all of us. How often do you think about this? We are told that we live our lives so close to death that everything we do is done within its shadow. Death breathes down our neck and looms over us as our slave master. Death is our spiritual condition and our physical destiny, apart from Jesus Christ.
However, most of us are asleep to the reality of death. We become comfortable in its shadow. We pretend that the angel of death will lose our address on the way to our home. We act as if we are immortal. We pretend that we are God. We live a lie.
Yet, we are not God. We are God’s creation. He has formed us, and has given us everything that we have, including our fleeting lives. We are not born immortal, but are born with numbered days (Job 15:5). Perhaps today is our last.
The reason for our terminal nature is our sin nature. Death is a consequence of our bent towards sin. It is the wage we have rightfully earned, and this should not shock us. For if you spend your life running away from the Author of Life, what else would you expect at the end of life’s rope but the desired goal of a lifeless eternity.
But we do not think this way, do we? We have become accustomed to the darkness…that is until a match is struck that illumines our heart. For not until the presence of light do we see how dark that darkness is. For it is light that causes a shadow to be cast, and the light of men is the person of Jesus Christ.
It is the light of Christ that dawns in a believer’s heart so that they can see the truth of their condition and turn to Christ alone for their salvation. It is the light of Christ that gives one eyes to see what lies at the end of a life that is spent in rebellion against a gracious God. It is the light of Christ that causes in us the necessary humility and meekness to understand our wretchedness before a Holy and Sovereign God. It is the light of Christ that leads to faith in Christ that leads to life in Christ.
This Christmas season, I pray that the morning star of Jesus Chris has risen in your hearts, and that you can live, not in the shadow of death, but in the hope that is found in the shadow of the cross.