“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ (Luke2:34-35)
Simeon’s “blessing” of Joseph and Mary doesn’t sound entirely encouraging! He prophesies that that the coming of Jesus will create a dividing line, a decision point. Some, such as those in power in authority, will fall and others, who are poor and forgotten, will rise.
Somehow it reminded me of Billy Graham’s radio show, way back: “Hour of Decision.” And also the oft-repeated line (in Hebrews) “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts...”
It’s as if old Simeon was marking the cross-over from BC to AD. The whole of history comes down to this one point, this fragile little bundle. And we have to choose to listen.
In this way, Jesus will serve as a sign to the people of Israel. Signs were always for the purpose of revealing the truth of the words of a prophet. Simeon, by declaring the sign, is indicating that his prophecies will come true, and that the sign will prove it.
The sign in this case is that though the Messiah has come to Israel, He will be “spoken against.” This serves not only to validate Simeon’s words, but also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. God’s concern has always been for the condition of the heart, and how the people respond to Jesus reveals what is in their hearts.
Mary also is given some hard words. Though up until now, she has been considered blessed, she now learns that with the blessing comes great pain. Simeon says to Mary that “a sword will pierce through your own soul too.”
It’s a foreshadowing of the cross of Jesus, and the terrible pain it would cause Mary. But in spiritual terms, the sorrow is like the “birth pains” so that what God is doing may be fully borne, and fully revealed.
Lord Jesus, I see that in choosing you each day, I am choosing the Cross. I want to know you in the “fellowship of your suffering” like Mary did, that I might “fall” to my self and “rise” to you.