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Dec 21, 2014

Light Rescues

Passage: Matthew 8:1-9:38

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: The Light In The Darkness

Category: Holiday

Keywords: darkness, light, advent, jesus, invasion, hope


This message looks at various types of darkness that Jesus rescued people from (or tried to) in Matthew 8 and 9.


Light Rescues

Message #3 of Advent 2014

December 21, 2014

Welcome! We’re in an Advent series about the miracle of our God of light invading the darkness of humanity through means of the incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus the Christ. The Gospel of John uses the term “light” to talk about Jesus himself. In the very first chapter, the 4th verse, John writes, In him [Jesus Christ] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

            Later, in John 8, Jesus said this about himself. 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

            Then in chapter 12, Jesus said, “46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

            Today I want us to ponder the miraculous light of Christ as it invaded the darkness of our ever-darkening world some 2,000 years ago. But before we marvel at our God of light, I’d like you to marvel at light itself just a little. Maybe that will help us marvel even more at the God who made light and invites us into His light.

Light is one of the most amazing properties in the entire universe. In its various wave lengths even beyond what the human eye can perceive, it is how we know anything about our universe. But rather than give you a lesson in physics today, can I just bump your “amazement-meter” just a little bit with some very astounding realities about light?

  • Anyone here sneeze when you open the curtains in the morning or turn on the light? Scientists would say you have "photic sneeze reflex”? It is estimated that about 1/3rd of humans are affected by a heritable condition that results in sneezing when the person is exposed to bright light. Scientists aren’t sure but they think it has something to do with the neurological wiring between your optic nerve and your nose nerves. Faulty wiring, I guess. :)
  • When it comes to our SUN, the light that is currently reaching Earth was generated in the core of the Sun 100,000 years ago. (The intense pressure at the core causes atoms of hydrogen to fuse and become helium. This process emits light, the individual particles of which (called photons) take millennia to gradually work their way to the star’s surface, as they keep being absorbed and re-emitted in random directions, and at slightly lower levels of energy. Once they finally do reach the surface, the photons zoom away at 300 million meters per second, reaching Earth in about eight minutes and 26 seconds.)
  • The “northern lights” or aurora borealis is the result of solar wind. When solar winds from cosmic events like solar flares reach Earth's atmosphere, they interact with particles of oxygen atoms, causing them to emit stunning green lights. These waves of light — termed the aurora borealis and aurora australis (or northern lights and southern lights, respectively) — are typically green, but hues of blue and red can be emitted from atmospheric nitrogen atoms, as well.
  • The Hubble telescope has detected the existence of countless galaxies receding from our point in space at speeds in excess of the speed of light. However, this still does not violate Einstein's theories on relativity because it is space — not the galaxies themselves — that is expanding away (a symptom of the Big Bang), and "carrying" the aforementioned galaxies along with it.
  • While light can penetrate trillions of miles of deep space, on earth more than half of the visible light spectrum is absorbed within three feet of the ocean's surface; at a depth of 10 meters, less than 20% of the light that entered at the surface is still visible; by 100 meters, this percentage drops to   0.5%. In fact, at depths of over 1000 meters (.6 mile) there is no detectable light whatsoever. As a result, the largest source of light in the Earth's oceans actually emanates from animals residing in its depths; marine biologists estimate that between 80 and 90 percent of deep-sea creatures are bioluminescent

All living creatures produce some amount of light as a result of metabolic biochemical reactions, even if this light is not readily visible. Back in 2009, a team of Japanese researchers reported that "the human body literally glimmers," after using incredibly sensitive cameras (the light is a thousand times weaker than the human eye can perceive) to capture the first evidence of human bioluminescence, pictured here. (It's worth mentioning that images C, D, E, F, and G, are not thermal images, but actually pictures of emitted photon intensity over the course of an average day.) I’m wondering if you grew up near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the tri-cities area if you glow more??? J

Light is now used for everything from laser eye surgery to telephone technology. The potential military applications of light are straight out of science fiction, and within a decade light may be the preferred weapon for zapping hostile missiles out of the sky.

Light could even become the preeminent power source for long-distance space travel. The spaceship would have an ultrathin sail to catch the "wind" of light beamed from an Earth-based laser. In theory such a craft could accelerate to a sizable fraction of the speed of light—without carrying fuel.

Here’s another facet of the miracle of light. It has no volume. And photons have no charge, so in the process of being concentrated into a very small space, they don't repulse each other as negatively charged electrons do. How many angels of light can dance on the head of a pin? In theory, an infinite number.

Most of us have heard of if not studied Einstein’s theory of relativity. It will make your head spin.

For instance, common sense tells us that a beam of light from the headlamp of a speeding locomotive ought to move faster than a beam from a stationary flashlight. Fact is, it doesn't. And there's nothing you can do about it! J

Einstein's relativity presents all manner of head-scratching implications. It reveals that as objects approach the speed of light, time slows down. At the speed of light itself, time stops.

This fact can help us think about the journeys made by starlight and galaxylight and quasarlight across cosmic distances. We use the term light-year to express a unit of distance (about six trillion miles [9.7 trillion kilometers]). But if you were the light itself—if you could be the photon—you'd experience no time. That long journey would be instantaneous. (I told you light is a head-scratcher.)

Technology is constantly advancing, allowing engineers to create ever brighter beams of light. The general rule is that brightness has increased a hundredfold every five years.

The telecommunications industry loves light. There is an almost universal belief in this industry that human beings will increasingly exploit the almost infinite amount of bandwidth found in a light beam. When it comes to fiber optics, life is rapidly changing too. The amount of information you can put on a fiber more than doubles every year. In theory a single fiber could someday transmit every phone call on Earth simultaneously.

George Gilder, a conservative political theorist who transformed himself into an influential technology guru, has declared in recent years that light will be the medium of a communications revolution. "You can envision a point where everyone in the world could have his own wavelength," says Gilder. "You'd have one wavelength that connected you to the person you wanted to address in Vienna or Tokyo or Tierra del Fuego, and this wavelength could easily accommodate three dimensional images. You could have conversations in which you forget within literally seconds that the person is not present. You see a face, the images saturates your own optical capabilities." He adds, "I believe that light was made by God for communications." [http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/power-of-light/#page=8]

God obviously knows all this and a million universes more about light than we do. That may explain why Jesus used light as the metaphor of choice to describe what He brought to this world in the incarnation…and what He still brings to people throughout the centuries since.

The very first message in this Advent series, I asked you to list out as many different kinds of darkness as you could come up with. Then we talked about how God not only creates darkness in this world but also uses it to speak to people and encourage them to draw near to him.

            But today I want us to see how Jesus Christ, God of light, penetrated and invaded the darkness of this world. We’ll look at a number of different encounters Jesus had with the darkness of life, the same darkness that sometimes threatens to overwhelm us just as it threatened those Christ touched. In so doing, I trust that the light of Christ…the “light of life”…will shed light on the darkness that presses in around our lives.

So let’s go to Matthew 8 & 9 today. And as we read this extended passage, I just want you to ask one question of each scene in the narrative:

From what darkness did the presence of Christ rescue people?

And I would like you to come up with your list of “darknesses” people were rescued from by Jesus in groups of 2-4. You will get far more out of the Word of God today if you do. If you isolate yourself and don’t discuss it with others, I think you will lose something God may want to give you today.

PRAY…asking God to rescue us from similar darkness by the presence of Christ among us today.

Matthew 8

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

From what darkness did the presence of Christ rescue the leper?

  • Isolation due to illness—from family, friends, home, worship, etc.
  • Ostracism from all of society.
  • Lack of physical touch.
  • Hopelessness of a disease without a cure. Its progression was obvious. From a bleak future.
  • Rejection of other people
  • The pale/possibility of his illness being divine judgment (see King Uzziah, 2 Chr. 26:16-23).
  • Spiritual isolation—couldn’t go to the local synagogue or to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, to worship, to pray, to fellowship, to hear instruction.
  • Certain poverty
  • Spiritual stigma: “unclean”
  • Uncertainty about Jesus’ willingness to make him clean.
  • Leprosy.

Does it appear that Jesus was trying to rescue anyone else from darkness with this encounter?

Yes, the priest and religious leaders of Israel. (See Lev. 13-14 for the Mosaic Law regarding this healing.)

What might this tell us about what God wants to do whenever he rescues us from something? Use it to shed light on others needing to see Him as the light of the world. All these encounters recorded here were know publically and widely. All of them involved people coming to Christ and making a public request of him.

Q: How often do we shrink back from coming publically to Christ to make a request of Him? Why?

Matthew 8:5-13--The Faith of the Centurion

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

WHO experienced the light of Christ in this story?

            Centurion, his servant, the watching people.

From what darkness did the presence of Christ rescue the centurion, his servant and the people?


  • Pain.
  • Illness
  • Death?


  • Being a hated oppressor and occupier.
  • Apathy and indifference to the needs of those under his care.
  • Inaction
  • Helplessness and inability to relieve the suffering of someone else.
  • Perhaps thinking of himself as outside of the grace or love of God as a Gentile.
  • Pride in his powerful position (Army officer) or race (Romans).
  • Indifference to the presence of Christ.
  • The question Jesus asked him, the option Christ gave him, saved him from unexpressed faith, from smaller faith.
  • Saved him from the darkness of religion—thinking that doing something for God was more important than believing in/recognizing Jesus’ power and authority.
  • Saved him from indifference to Christ.


  • The darkness of a small view of Christ’s authority in this world.
  • The darkness of prejudice against Gentiles.
  • The darkness of thinking hatred of an occupying oppressor is acceptable

Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-law

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

  • Darkness of illness.
  • Darkness of loss—Where was Peter’s wife? It appears she may not be around/be deceased(?) as her mother becomes the one who waits on them.   (I Cor. 9:5—Peter probably had a wife at least by this point.)

Jesus Heals Many

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

  • Darkness of demonic oppression/possession; of demonic torment of people’s lives.
  • Darkness of illness….and all the effects of prolonged illness such as hopelessness, discouragement, depression, isolation, poverty, etc

The Cost of Following Jesus

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

From what darkness did this encounter with Christ liberate these two individuals?

  • False expectations of the perks and benefits of following Jesus.
  • Improper connections with family, houses, obligations (particularly that of unbelieving family).

Jesus Calms the Storm

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

From what darkness did this encounter with Christ liberate the disciples?

  • Death
  • Natural disaster
  • Small faith
  • Fear
  • Sense of helplessness.
  • Past experiences

Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men

28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

From what darkness did this encounter with Christ liberate?

The Demoniacs:

  • Demonic oppression/possession.
  • Isolation, abandonment
  • Violence (to self and others)
  • Paganism—apparently Gentiles are being dealt with here.
  • Tomb-living: living life among the dead.

The Gadarenes:

  • Ignorance about Christ (but not the darkness they refused to let go of—materialism, fear of Christ, anger over loss, etc.)
  • Any lack of ongoing witness of the power of Christ (because the demoniacs stayed there and were a constant reminder of the power and person of Jesus).

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

From what darkness did this encounter with Christ liberate?

  • Paralysis, inability to work and live normally, idleness.
  • Dependence on others.
  • Sin and lack of God’s forgiveness
  • Powerless religion
  • Ignorance or a lack of understanding about the power and nature of Christ (actually God who can forgive sins).

The people?

  • Lack of wonder about Christ.
  • Lack of praise for God’s power and greatness.
  • Lack of appreciation for what God was doing in Christ.

The Calling of Matthew

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

From what darkness did this encounter with Christ liberate?

  • Of being a societal pariah/outcast
  • Greed
  • A career that involved abuse of others, abuse of power and ethical compromise
  • Materialism
  • Empty relationships & the party boy life
  • Dead or dormant spiritual life

Jesus Questioned About Fasting

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

From what darkness did this encounter with Christ liberate?

  • Darkness of tradition.
  • Darkness of joylessness.
  • Darkness of the past.
  • Darkness of inflexible structures and expectations.

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

From what darkness did these encounters with Christ liberate?

Synagogue Leader:

  • Family crisis
  • Death
  • Neutrality towards Christ
  • Private faith


  • Incurable illness
  • Financial ruin from sickness
  • Gender prejudice
  • Status as “unclean” before the law
  • Private faith

Jesus Heals the Blind and the Mute

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

From what darkness did these encounters with Christ liberate?

Blind Men:

  • Physical darkness!
  • From half-hearted seeking of Christ.
  • From a distant relationship knowledge of Jesus to a personal encounter with Him.


  • Demons
  • Demonic influence, isolation, silence.
  • Of not having a testimony to the power of God at work in him.
  • The emotional struggles of being deaf-mute.


  • Nothing! It made their darkness deeper!

Summary Statement

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

What forms of darkness are mentioned here?

  • Feeling helpless.
  • Just one of the crowd
  • Harassed
  • Illness
  • No one really caring for your soul
  • Empty religion

So what’s the “darkness” you need Jesus to lift? Change? What would you like Jesus to impact or bring into the light of His presence?

  • Feeling helpless
  • Just one of the crowd
  • Harassed
  • Illness
  • No one really caring for your soul
  • Empty religion
  • Family crisis
  • Death
  • Neutrality towards Christ
  • Private faith needing to go public
  • Incurable illness
  • Financial ruin
  • Prejudice
  • Apathy and indifference
  • Inaction
  • Rejection
  • Pride
  • “Unclean” in somebody’s eyes
  • Darkness of tradition
  • Darkness of joylessness
  • Darkness of the past
  • Darkness of inflexible structures and expectations
  • Dependence on others
  • Sin needing forgiveness
  • Powerless religion
  • Lack of understanding about the power and nature
  •             of Jesus Christ
  • Isolation
  • Abandonment
  • Violence
  • Small faith
  • Fear
  • Sense of helplessness
  • Past experiences