Light Pollution

by Julie Zine Coleman

Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled:

The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—

‘The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned.”
Matthew 3:12-16 NASB

When Steve and I were dating, one of our favorite things to do was go for a drive in Maryland’s Calvert County to watch the night sky. It was truly dark there—unable-to-see-your-hand-in- front-of-your-face kind of dark. In the middle of a mostly farmed area, no light pollution from cities invaded our view. The Milky Way and many planets from our solar system were easily seen. Together we learned the winter constellations. We spent hours watching meteors streak across the sky. It was awesome.

In the dark, any spark of light will be noticed. Perhaps that is why Jesus chose to begin His ministry in the region of Galilee. He came as the Light of the World to people walking in darkness.

That northern region was despised by the pure-blooded and educated Jews of Jerusalem and Judea. They hated the Galileans’ accent and lack of religious adherence.

In the south, the religious leaders in Jerusalem and Judea had vigorously taught the Mosaic and Oral Law. Many were convinced that in obeying the Law, they would be OK with God. But that kind of self-sufficiency would ultimately keep them from recognizing their very real inadequacy and need.

Paul tells us “Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though they could by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone…” (Romans 9: 31-32 NASB). All that religion and law-keeping had only inoculated them.

It was a situation similar to light pollution from a city—keeping us from seeing much of a night sky’s offerings.

In contrast, Galilee was in the dark, still searching for what Jesus had come to offer. So they came to Him in droves, ready to listen to what He had to say, open to regarding Him as the promised Messiah.

That can be a lesson to us. The more we inoculate ourselves with rule-following and judging those who do not follow our personal moral code, the better we think ourselves to be. We lose the understanding that Jesus has already done it all—and we wear His righteousness, not our own. Nothing we have done could earn any favor with God. Grace is undeserved favor. There is only level ground at the cross. No idea of self-sufficiency can survive in light of those truths.

Keeping our focus on Jesus and what He has done for us will keep us clinging to Him, knowing how our dependence on God will continue for the rest of our lives. And it will keep our hearts sensitive to His light, leading, and purposes.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).


About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation. On Purpose was awarded the Golden Scrolls 2022 Book of the Year. 

Join the conversation: Can you think of something in your life that could deaden your response to the grace of God?


2 thoughts on “Light Pollution

  1. Julie, this is such a great reminder of not judging others. Sometimes I forget how dark life can be without Jesus. Your devotional reminds me to extend grace and pray for others to come to His light. Wonderful thoughts. Thanks, Fran


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