Once again, I want to welcome everyone here tonight who has chosen to spend Christmas Eve with us here at Cornerstone Church. I do not think you will regret it. I don’t say that because of me, or because this building, or even the company or cookies, but because of God and what he has for us tonight in His Word. The only reason we have this Holiday is because of this book and what it says. It only makes sense for us tonight to sit at the foot of God’s throne and soak in His Word.
With that said, I want to encourage each one of you to start a new Christmas tradition this year, that is, if you don’t do this already. Before you open presents, I encourage you to open up the Bible. Spend time reading about the love God as is displayed in Jesus Christ. My suggestion for this year is to read Romans 8. It is not the Christmas story, but it is why we celebrate the Christmas story. After you read this passage, pray and tell God thank you for all He has done through Christ. I cannot think of a more important Christmas tradition than this.
Now let us turn our attention to tonight’s message. Open your Bibles to Matthew 4:12-17. Here at Cornerstone we have camped out in this text for a little over three weeks. Let’s read it pray, and then see what God has to say to us this Christmas Eve.
- Matthew 4:12-17 – “Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--16 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.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Darkness is simply the absence of light. Where there is light there is no darkness. Where there is darkness there is no light. The darkness as mentioned in this text, however, is not material darkness it is a spiritual darkness. The light is God, the darkness is the absence of God. Therefore this darkness is a reference to a people who live separated from God. The darkness mentioned in verse 16 is not exclusive to the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. The dominion of darkness covers the entire planet. All you have to do is watch the news to figure this out. The darkness encompasses all humanity, because we are all sinners. We all run from the light into the domain of darkness. As it says in John 3, people love the darkness.
This darkness, that we love, is not a good thing. Living in darkness results in fear, anxiety, lostness, futility, dysfunction, suffering, and anguish. The sin in your life may feel good in the moment, but it produces a wake of disaster in your life. This is the world we live in, broken, rebellious, living as if God is dead to us. However, this is not the worst of it, for this darkness is just a taste of the ultimate and eternal spiritual darkness, Hell. Jesus calls Hell the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and this is the guaranteed destiny for everyone absent a Solution.
Which leads me to point number two, the answer to the darkness is singular. Remember, darkness is just the absence of light; therefore to remove darkness you must have light. Nothing else resolves the problem of darkness, other than light. And what is the answer to the spiritual darkness? What is the solution to the highway to Hell that every man walks upon? Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus stands up and proclaims in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
The answer to the darkness, the answer to the dysfunction, the answer to the suffering is Jesus Christ. No matter where the darkness lies, the answer is the same. Jesus, the Light of the World. This is why the angels proclaim in Luke 2:10 to the Shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Jesus is not the answer for some, he is the answer for everyone!
The question I ask everyone tonight is are you following the Light? Do you follow Christ? And I am not asking do you go to Church from time to time, or are you a good person. I am asking do you love Jesus? Have you laid your life down at the foot of the cross and said, “I am yours.” If you have not yet chosen to follow Christ, then you are still are a citizen of the domain of darkness? This means that the suffering you are experiencing now is nothing what is waiting for you in Hell.
Kingdom of Heaven
The question is how does this occur? How does one go from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of Heaven? What does Jesus do?
- Matthew 4:17 - “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
It is the Word of God and the power of God that pierces the hearts of man and awakens them to their need for Jesus. The Gospel message opens their eyes to the depravity of darkness and the treasure of the Light of Christ.
- Colossians 1:13 – “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”
Having said that, we still live in this darkened world, not of it, but in it. We still live in a world that is full of sin, dysfunction, perversion, brokenness, rebellion, suffering and anguish. We still feel the weight of this, to an extent. This is a reality for all Christians. We are Citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven, however, for a moment; we live in the domain of darkness.
And despite the love, peace and joy that we have in Christ, and is an undercurrent to our lives, we still mourn, weep, and suffer. We still get cancer. We still struggle with our flesh. The road for a believers is not easy street, it is hard, it is narrow, but it is good. Because we know where our journey ends. It ends with God.
- Psalm 16:11 – “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
- Revelation 21:3-7 – “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. “
- Revelation 21:23 - “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”