The People Dwelling in Darkness

Dr. Elias dos Santos Medeiros, Speaker

Matthew 4:12-17 | February 17 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
February 17
The People Dwelling in Darkness | Matthew 4:12-17
Dr. Elias dos Santos Medeiros, Speaker

Brothers and sisters, what a great privilege for me to be here this morning. And as I shared also at the Seniors’, I’m really in the Seniors’ category, class, by my accent you realize I’m not, English is not my first language. And sometimes I used to apologize for that, but I’d like you just to understand that English has been the fourth language in my life that I have to be acquainted with, and it’s not to show off, but to tell you this: That you have to pay very close attention [laughter] because if you know English better than I do, that’s your problem, to figure out what I’m trying to say. And I hope that you pray as we are reading and studying the Word of the Living God.

Open your Bibles, in Matthew chapter 4, and I’m going to read from verse 12 to 17. This is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, and tonight we are going to study on Matthew 28, a very known passage as you come to the end of this Gospel, therefore from the beginning of Matthew to the end of Matthew’s Gospel, so that we may see how consistent the Lord Jesus Christ is, in the mission, or in the work, that He was sent in this world to preach and to do and to fulfill, and therefore for us Jesus Christ is really the missionary.

And I’m saying that because Jesus left it very clear, in John, by the way I’m not preaching yet, [laughter], in John chapter 4 verse 34, you know the context of the Samaritan woman. As He revealed Himself to that woman by the well, and the disciples are coming from the city with some hamburger, because Jesus stayed there by noon, tired, thirsty, and hungry. And has revealed Himself to that woman. The disciples are coming and looked that he was talking with a woman, said nothing, and then they come back with their hamburgers and say “Rabbi, eat” and Jesus looked at it says “I have food to eat that you don’t know of.” And they’re all looking at the hamburger, thinking “someone brought something to eat.” Bad reasoning. The question should be “Jesus, what food is that?”

Don’t you love Jesus, that for Him drinking, eating, are secondary when you have people at stake?

And He says this, in John 4:34: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” God is the sender, and Jesus is the missionary.

My food. In other words, what keeps me going, what strengthens Myself is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

This is a great word. Sometimes when I use the word “mission” it’s too abstract for many people, because they think about mission as something that someone is doing somewhere. Jesus used the work, the word work, as referring to the work of God the Father in reconciling people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ by the conviction and convincing power of the Holy Spirit. That’s what we are talking about here, my dear brothers and sisters. The work of God.

Jesus left it very clear in that context, that was there was sin in this world to save sinners. It was promised even before the foundation of the world, Ephesians chapter 1, I’m not preaching yet but I know my time [laughter].

But I want you to get it. Ephesians 1, “before the foundation of the world, He loved us and sent His Son.”

And in the context of the fall, Genesis 3, God the evangelist, the prophet comes and tells and promised the seed of the woman, and called Abraham and sent Abraham, so that through his seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. And He speaks to David in 2 Samuel 7, made a covenant with him because the seed of the woman, which is the seed of Abraham, will be the seed of David. The King was supposed to come to grant us royal forgiveness and to bring in His kingdom.

And Jesus come in this world and Peter, in Acts chapter 3, you don’t need to go there, called ___ in the Old Testament 12:3, Genesis 12:3, that Paul says in Galatians that God preannounced the Gospel to Abraham by announce that, that his seed all the families of the earth will be blessed, and Peter preaches to the people, says “Who is the seed?” and says the seed is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. His name is Jesus, and when the angel gave this name, it means God who saves. And Peter says exposing that Genesis 12:3, the seed is the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing is that He’s going to take away your iniquity, bring you back into fellowship with the Father.

Oh, my friends, this is God’s mission, God’s work. We are only servants through whom all that become to believe. We do not have another kind of work, because a missionary is someone to whom work was given. Paul call us servants through whom others may come to believe. Paul calls us coworkers with him. And the only difference is this, my friend: God has saved us, has called us, saved us, empowered us, and sent us when the power of the Holy Spirit to make Him known across the street and around the world. The work of mission is to preach, to share, to witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the salvation Christ alone, for His glory alone. That’s the work across the street and around the world.

In some sense, all of us here are missionaries. All of here have been called, saved, and sent, and empowered. When Jesus said “Follow Me, I will make you fishers of men,” it’s not thinking just overseas, but everywhere, followers of Christ, fishers of men. The One who efficaciously and effectively saved you and me, efficaciously and effectively empower us to make Him known. And that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. And Paul says this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

And Jesus said for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost, therefore what I’m going to read to you today has everything to do to my introduction. Let me read the inspired, the inerrant, the infallible, the invincible, the only sufficient and efficient Word of the Living God, given in this world. Matthew chapter 4, beginning of Jesus’ ministry. I’m using the New King James, sorry. As I’m reading, I want you to try to see what I’m reading, try to feel what I’m reading, try to savor it as God said to Ezekiel, “Take the book and eat.” Savor it. That’s the way I read my Bible, in slow motion.

Holy Spirit, we pray that You may bring conviction among ourselves. O Lord Father, Jeremiah 23 says that you are everywhere, totally present, everywhere in the universe. You are here with all Your power, with all Your knowledge, totally present and Jesus, You promised You were with us every single day, therefore I pray O Father, in the name of Your Son, thank You, Jesus, for being here, that Your Holy Spirit may open our eyes to see what otherwise we cannot see, our minds to understand what otherwise we cannot understand, and our hearts to believe and to trust what otherwise we cannot believe and trust and be committed to and treasure. O Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, for the sake of Your glory, the edification of Your people, and the motivation, the passion, for the salvation of the lost across the street and around the world. Amen.

“Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.”

Are you seeing?

“And leaving Nazareth.”

Can you see it?

“He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.’ From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”

Jesus said that the whole Bible, in Luke 24, was all about Himself, but not only that, He says also in Luke 24 that the whole Bible is about His redemptive work, “it’s about Me and about My death and resurrection, but not only that.” He said “I’ll show you it’s not only about My redemptive work, My death and resurrection, but also for the proclamation of My name for repentance among all the nations.” That’s what the Bible’s all about.

And He says “and you are My witness, and I’m going to empower you to do this.”

What impressed me in the Bible is that the One who committed us, having gone or to go and make disciples, He came, He went, and He made disciples.

And this morning I would like to go with you in Matthew chapter 4, verse 12 to 17, and I’m going to outline this way. I don’t know how you study the Bible, I study the Bible, meditate on the Scriptures, read it, asking question, and trying to find the answer in the text or in the context, never on my own experience. My experience has to be submitted to the scrutiny of God’s Word.

But this morning I have three questions that we are going to study together. It is one hour that we have. [laughter] Don’t worry. [laughter] I’m praying for revival. [laughter]

Go with me. Keep your Bibles open because we’re going to look at the Bible. I’m going to give you the three questions. If I don’t come to the end of these three questions today, that’s all right. I’ll summarize for you.

The first question that I have here for you to consider is this: Why did Jesus leave Nazareth? The city Nazareth. I have to be careful when I preach that in Brazil because Nazareth is the name of people, and one day I was preaching and mentioned when Jesus left Nazareth and someone was wondering “I didn’t know Jesus was married.” Now, you go to other places of the world and you know how careful you have to be when explaining words, but I know this is, you know, why did Jesus leave Nazareth?

Second question: What for did Jesus dwell in Capernaum?

The third question: What did Jesus go about doing in this place?

The first question, “Why did Jesus leave Nazareth?” Now He’s now 30 years old, Luke leaves it very clear. And now He leaves Nazareth where He grow up, and go to Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, the question comes, “Why did Jesus leave Nazareth?”

And the first answer is in verse 12, you cannot miss that: “When Jesus heard that John,” John the Baptist was preaching Him, “had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.” If I ask you why did Jesus leave Nazareth, of course you’re going to say “Dr. Medeiros, can’t you read well? Because He heard that John the Baptist was put in prison.” That was the natural cause.

Now if you study God’s Word and you meditate on the Gospels and on the, and on the Old Testament, about Christ, you are going to see and realize immediately that everything that Jesus said in His Word, and ___ here, everything that Jesus ever thought and ___ here, everything that Jesus has ever done and ___ here, every move of Jesus had always to do with the redemptive work of the Father. Jesus would never move for the sake of moving.

In the following text you see Jesus by the beach. Jesus would never jog for the sake of jogging. He is walking by the beach to recruit people.

Therefore I know there is a natural cause that God is using to move His Son, but if you say that Jesus left Nazareth because John the Baptist was in prison, you have a correct answer, but incomplete.

I am impressed when I study the Scriptures to discover that in reality you are going to see that from God’s perspective there are no natural causes. Everything that happened in our lives, the Bible says, is under the control of God for the sake of His glory, whether you know it or not, whether you believe it or not, among all the nations, among every people, every single human being, the Bible says in Psalm 139, when they are born, all the days already count. And the Bible says also their moves, of course you move, of course you came here, under the sovereign rule of God.

And I want you to keep in mind that there are, in that case, no natural cause.

Do you remember when Jesus was born? And I’m going to show you, don’t worry, I’m going to, I’m going to get there, because I want to encourage you this today, in the name of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, to not waste any moment in your life.

Do you remember Joseph and Mary are in Nazareth. Jesus is to be born in Bethlehem. Now let me ask you what moved Joseph and Mary to go down to, to Bethlehem? Mary’s pregnant, ___ the baby, and Joseph looks at Mary and said “Mary, this baby is Jesus. He’s supposed to be born in Bethlehem. Get the things and go down.”

My friend, God moved the Roman emperor to make a decree that everybody should go to be counted in the place of their origin. Because Joseph and Mary were from Bethlehem, they have to move to Bethlehem. Natural cause? I don’t think so.

Caesar Augustus didn’t have a clue. He didn’t say, “Oh, according to the scripture of the Jews, the messiah is supposed to be born in Bethlehem. What can I do to make wherever He is the parents to move there?” No, my friends [clapping], he decreed for their own sake, and everything according to God’s purpose, and then they got to Bethlehem. Why? Because Jesus was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. The point is that all natural cause in our lives has a purpose and are guided by our sovereign God and I hope that you will take advantage of every single move of your life.

I used to tell my students “don’t waste your geography.” Don’t waste your geography, and I’m going to tell you why. Oh, I could go in so many other texts, but listen to this. Yes, Jesus moved because John the Baptist was put in prison, but let us get the complete answer, because the complete answer, my friend, is in verse 14. You know why Jesus moved? Of course, John the Baptist was put in prison, and Jesus by the discernment of the Father ___ knew that it is the time for Me to go and move there because every move of Christ had been prophesied. The place of birth, where He’ll grow up, where He would go to die.

Listen, the Bible says, really moved that it might be fulfilled what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet. This is the complete answer.

My friend, when you see a natural cause, I hope that you begin to think “Lord, what in the world does that have to do with Your plan? Of Your redemptive plan?” Neighbor move to your side in your neighborhood, you go there and ask him “why did you move here?” they are going to tell the natural cause, all the natural cause. But my questions why and what for did God put that neighbor beside you? Or you move. Get the complete answer. The only way to have the complete answer is when you begin to realize everything from God’s redemptive plan.

And by the way, God not only moved the geography of Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and, and Moses and Joshua and David and the prophets and Daniel, not only them, but the Bible says that God has control to all our migrations and journeys, including of His own Son.

Why? Because it was decreed by the Lord. In other words, God was leading His Son even geographically.

My friend, I have good news for you all. It’s not only the geography of Jesus and of the apostles and the patriarchs that moved them. The Bible says that your geography, your journeys, your migrations, your moves, have been under the ___ of God, don’t waste it.

Open your Bibles, keep the Bible there, go with me. By the way, I could go to Joseph. Remember Joseph sold by his brothers, and when the brother come and says “you sold me here, I’m here in Egypt, the natural cause, you sold me, you bad people, you sold me here,” but he says “no, but God sent me here, and the means that God used was you sold me here.” Natural cause—I’m here because you bad people sold me as slave. Ultimate cause—God brought me here.

And by the way, if you have a time later, read Psalm 105 about Joseph and Moses and the psalmist says that God even sent the famine so that Jacob and the others could go to Egypt and fulfill the prophecy of Genesis 15 where they would become a great nation.

But let us go back here, Acts chapter 17. Go with me very quickly and we’re coming back. ___ told them I can go to you 12/5. Acts chapter 17. Now is Paul preaching to pagans. And let me just go with this, verse 20, 26 to 28. Listen to this. Speaking to this pagan, he says this: “And He,” meaning God, “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Now, that’s Genesis 1, 2 and 3. “And has determined,” listen to this, “and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”

Every single human being ever born after the fall, ever born today, ever born or to be born to the coming of Christ, they will be born in the time and in the place preappointed by God. Their time and their geography are led by God under the sovereignty of God.

Yourself included.

And listen what he says more. “So that,” verse 27, “so that they should seek the Lord.” Every single human being whoever, who was ever born after the fall, who was ever born today or whoever ever lived after the fall, whoever lives today, or who will ever be living til the coming of Christ anywhere, anytime, is born with a great need, they’re born dead, they’re born sinners, they are born with a need for the Lord. That’s what the Bible says.

Which means that the greatest problem and the greatest need at the same time of any neighbor anywhere, anytime in the world, that greatest need or the greatest problem, they are born separated from God, in rebellion against God.

When my children are born, I looked at them, beautiful children, and I just look and I almost give them the name Little Adam and Little Eve. That’s the problem of every single human being, they’re fallen. When I approach anyone, I want to know them, I want to know about their family, but I want to know how are their relationship with God, with the Lord Jesus Christ, because that’s the problem of your neighbor and the best, the greatest more biblical way to demonstrate your love for your neighbor, my friend, is to approach them to see how are their relationship with the life that is Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father but through Me.” In other words, if you do not have the Lord Jesus Christ, you don’t have the truth, you don’t have the life, and you don’t have the way.

That’s the problem. The solution is what the Lord Jesus Christ, the savior, that’s the solution provided by God Himself.

And he says more. Listen to this. Verse 28: “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” In Him we live and move. The word “move” here is not choreography, my friend. It’s not dancing. The word used here is for journeys, migrations, moves, short or long.

I used to tell, and I’m going to repeat it, don’t waste your geography.

Every morning, my wife and I, we pray “Lord, would you give us an opportunity today to meet someone who do not know you? And if we meet someone who already knows you, give the opportunity to encourage them or to be encouraged by them.” And it amazes me, in 44 years just counting my ordained ministry, 44 years, I have never had a week in my life that the Lord has not shown someone. Sometimes my wife goes to Sam, that’s part of their geography for that day, and I go with her. You know why I go with her? She’s going to buy things, and I just go looking around to see if I see somebody that I can talk with, and silly as it ___, my friend, we start to look and to see people.

When I read in my Bible this, and Jesus, now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man was blind from birth. I read things like that I say “what? A man blind, didn’t see him? Of course not. But as Jesus passing by, He’s looking at people, and He took the initiative to deal with this blind man.

Many times I go there, oh, how many times, and you have these people giving sample, and I realize they have more time, and I go for the ones who do not, people are not eating very much from them, and I have a good time to talk with them. And sometimes we have those people offering cable TV, waste of money, give it to missions [laughter]. By the way, not against cable TV, but if you are spending $500 in cable TV, I would say my friend, make a commitment, “I’m going to give $500 to missions, to the work across the street and around the world.” And you say “I will keep my cable TV.” No, no, no, then give $1000.” [laughter]

Don’t waste your geography.

I was in a restaurant. Yesterday my wife and I went to some Brazilian place that’s sells things here, and every time we go there in place like this, I’m looking for people to talk with them, just to know them, to present myself, just talk with people, and pray because you have more in common because if they are human beings, you know. I don’t talk with dogs. [laughter]

Tonight I’m going to say something that I have eaten ___, but it is tonight. And as I began to talk with her, and I always carry some literature to give to them, and I was asking where they are from, how long they have been here, she is here for three months in Matthews. And as we talk, and I pull out the Bible, about church, ___ asked “do you go to any church?” He said, “no, as a matter of fact, I’m looking for one and I bet it is your church, my friend.” No, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ that you’re pastoring here.

Every single day, don’t waste your geography.

I was in a Chinese restaurant. I love this. And some time ago this place because then I meet foreigners, and ___ let us go to the Chinese restaurant, was then the Chinese restaurant, and it’s night, and we finish eating and this girl was just waiting for us to finish. I finished and I went to talk with her and said “what’s your name?” There was a waitress, and she told me her name. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you the two other points very quickly. [laughter] And I ask her name, she told me her name. I said “how long have you been here?” Said with a very broken English, she said she was from China, had been now in my town for three months, very broken English. And then I asked that question.

By the way, I’m in the Bible belt. I can ask anybody if they have Bible, or go to church, easy. What I have realized in these 26 years is that from the Bible belt to have only the Bible, the belt, only the belt, the Bible is gone. [laughter] I have ___ if you do not have the Bible, then don’t go to church, but nobody asks, nobody approach them.

And then I asked her “do you have a Bible,” and she looked at me and said this: “What is a Bible?” I’m talking Jackson, Mississippi. And by the way, she was not joking with me, she was not trying to make fun of me. I think she thought it would be kind of fish somewhere. I said “the Bible is a book,” and I pray “Lord, help her to ask me a book about what?” And said “A book about what?” [laughter] That is a book about one person called the Lord Jesus Christ, and I began to explain to her, and said “I have never heard. I don’t have a Bible.” Then I said “I’m going to bring you a Bible, English Mandarin, or simplified Chinese because I always buy these Bibles to give to people. I don’t distribute Bible, I give. And then I have a former student of mine was leading a Chinese, was leading a church in town, and I passed her contact to him.

But my point is don’t waste your geography. I know why I went there was a meeting, but I know there is no natural cause in God’s kingdom, since you have a God who rules over everything, especially over your moves.

And now to finish. That’s why did Jesus go there, because that was His Father’s will according to His redeeming purpose, that’s why He’s moving His Son, and wherever you are, remember it has to do with the redemptive purpose of God, whether you’re a medical doctor in the hospital or a lawyer or whatever you are.

Now, let me just give you the two points and we’re going to finish. What for did Jesus locate Himself in Capernaum? The Bible tells you what for. What for? So that. Why? Because. What for? So that. So that the people who sat in darkness could see a great light and those who sat in the region in shadow of death, light has dawned. In other words, to save these people. The Bible says that in Him was life and the life was the light of man, and John says as well and this is the testimony that God has given us, eternal life, and this life in His Son. He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life. And if you want to know more about why these people were in darkness, you can go later and read Psalm 105. The Bible tells you that.

What for did Lord put you, or lead you, where you go? So that people may come to know the light. Don’t waste your time, don’t waste your vacation, don’t waste your vocation. God has spread out so many place. What for? So that those in darkness may see a great light and be saved. And that’s what Paul, what God said to Paul, “I will deliver you from the Jewish people as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you to open their eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and then the inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

Don’t be silent, my friends. Begin to live your life in the sight of ___ perspective of these what for. ‘Cause God is going to use means, and we are the means. Talk with people. Get in close, Community Christ, every single day by meditating His Word, by talking with Him, by fellowshipping together with God’s people, by investing and by telling people about the Lord across the street and around the world.

What for? So that. Wherever you are, what for are you there?

Now my last point. And I have two minutes; he gave five more. Let me try. I really want you to understand that, my friend. Life is in Jesus and in the work of Jesus whatever you have, whatever position you have, everything is secondary. This is, they are important, but they are secondary. You are there for the purpose of magnifying, glorify God through your work so that people may know the One to whom you really serve and work for.

I told once the story I am going tell you, flying. I fly a lot and these long flights overseas. When I travel with my wife, it’s overnight flights, and what I do, I sent, generally, as soon as I sit in the plane, I open my Bible, my real Bible, okay, my paper Bible, so that the… I purposely do it. One, because I want to read it, meditate, and the other is that I want people to see and maybe also “O Lord, open a door for me to share with someone.”

And we have gone a few hours, we have dinner, and the stewardess pass by of one of the flights and look at me and said, “pray for me.” [laughter] I said “come back.” [laughter] And she finished and came back and stayed by our side. I said “what for do you want me to pray for you?” And said “I’m having a problem in this flight.” [laughter] We are 30-some thousand feet, 10 kilometers, above the air and a stewardess comes to us and say “I’m having a problem with this flight.” My first question was “is it with the plane?” [laughter] Because I wonder if it is with the plane, I’m going to tell people, “People, I have good news and bad news for all of you here!” [laughter] “The bad news that this plane is going down, and the baddest news is that if you have not assurance of your salvation in Christ, you are going to hell. But I have good news as well.”

But she said “no, no, no, that’s not with the plane.” [laughter] Said “I’m having a problem with the chief of the crew here, relationship.” I said “I’m going to give you a text” and I opened my Bible because I was, sometimes that’s what I do, I open the Bible and show the people, and I was opening the Bible and I opened the Bible in Proverbs 15. I said “I’m going to give you a verse of the Bible. ‘A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.'” She looked at this, “Thank you very much, that’s what I really need.” She didn’t got it. Said “Oh, I know now how to answer him.”

See, it’s not about positive thinking. That’s a good saying. In other words, if I, that makes sense, then if I’m going to do that, then he’s going to be very angry, I will be very quiet, although inside I’m really trying to get him. I said “you didn’t get it.” Said “what you didn’t get it?” “This is the word of God. This is a promise and a command to those who have surrounded, surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then you obey it because God said so. And God’s going to work not only on him, but especially in you.”

My last point. Brothers, what did Jesus go about doing here? In other words, how, what is the means that he used to bring people out of darkness and the shadow of death? Listen, the Bible says, from that times He began to preach and to say repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

He used what? The preaching, the teaching, the sharing, the speaking. That’s the means. Faith comes by hearing. That’s what Jesus is doing here. When it says repent, it means that’s just a summary. You are sinners and rebel against Me, repent for the kingdom is, the King is here. I am the King, the One who came to pay for sins before they kingdom of heaven, and can give you royal forgiveness and bring you under my dominion, that is the message, that’s the way.

Some people told me “Dr. Medeiros, you do this because you’re very extroverted.” I said “Let me ask a question. You are disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ?” Said “yes.” “Didn’t Jesus said that to be a disciple you have to what? To deny yourself, pick up the cross, and follow Him? So then deny yourself. Find a way.”

One of the ___ when I was reading and he was giving several reasons why every believer should profess their faith, means telling people about Christ. They didn’t ___ the word ___ and missions, but they used the expression “profess their faith, fishing people.” Why every believer should profess their faith, telling people about Christ, and he said “first reason,” you are going to love it. I thought it was a very theological, deep statement, and it is. He said the first reason why every believer in love with Christ, in love with the work of Christ, in love with the word of Christ, in love with the people of Christ, in love with the lost, their first reason should share the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, is because God gave you a mouth.