In the dark, the human eye adapts by enlarging the pupil. This allows as much light as possible to pass into the eye and onto the retina. If a bright light suddenly blazes—for instance, if a camera flashes or headlights abruptly come into view—large amounts of light pour through the pupil and can overwhelm the retina, leading to a condition called “flash blindness” when one’s vision is partially or even totally impaired. The brighter the light and the deeper the darkness, the more intense the effects of flash blindness are.
Those living in Capernaum during Jesus’ time may perhaps be said to have experienced an acute form of spiritual flash blindness. Drawing on Isaiah, Matthew describes them as “people living in darkness” who in Jesus saw “a great light” (v. 16). That light blazed brilliantly. From Capernaum, Jesus launched His public ministry, proclaiming: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (v. 17). And in the surrounding area, He performed many miracles that heralded this kingdom, “healing every disease and sickness among the people” and even driving out demons (v. 23).
Despite the nearness and brilliance of Jesus’ light, Capernaum was ultimately blinded. Jesus would soon denounce the city, declaring, “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades” (11:23). While thrilled with Jesus’ miracles, Capernaum seemed unable to perceive their meaning and the nature of the kingdom they signaled. Perhaps the reason was that the kingdom was led by a King who defied their expectations by rejecting the temptations of earthly power (vv. 1–10). Let us commit ourselves to closely following Jesus in His ministry and to examining our earthly assumptions to avoid being blinded by His light.
Dr. John Jelinek, interim provost, requests your prayers for the students and faculty of Moody Bible Institute as they are finishing off the Fall semester. We rejoice together, thanking the Lord for the great things He has taught our students this year!