Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall or rise. He will be a sign that will be disputed, so that the inner thoughts of many people might be revealed. Indeed, a sword will pierce your own soul, too.”Luke 2:34-35
this child – The word “child”, is not in the original text which reads “this is set . . . “. Simeon seems to be at a loss as to what name to call this great and illustrious person.
Falling and rising – just what does that mean? This seems to be allusion to Isaiah:
He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah He will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem He will be a trap and a snare. Many will stumble and fall, never to rise again. They will be snared and captured.”Isaiah 8:14-15
But in this case it is falling and rising rather than falling never to rise again. There is much debate as to whether there are one or two groups of people meant here. In other words, if two groups are meant then one group rise while the other group fall. If one group is meant then they fall following which they rise. I will leave you to work out which you feel is meant. However it is made clear that the group(s) of people meant are the Jews. This is a prophetic word as to what will happen to Israel. Accordingly the Jews did stumble at his birth, his parentage, education, at the lowliness of his person, the obscurity of his kingdom, at the company he kept, and the audience that attended him. They took offence over his doctrine, his miracles, his sufferings and death. They fell because of their unbelief and rejection of him as the Messiah. They stumble over the very Messiah they were expecting. They expected Ha Meshiach ben David (the coming ruler) but they stumbled over Ha Meshiach Ben Yosef (the suffering servant). They didn’t realise there would be two Messiah types in the One person given two comings. Christ did not come as a temporal deliverer, in which character alone the Jews expected him, the consequence should be, they would reject him, and so fall by the hand of the Romans. See Rom 11:11, Rom 11:12, and Matthew 24. But in the fullness of time there shall be a rising again of many in Israel. See Rom 11:26.
for a sign … The word “sign” here denotes a conspicuous or target object, and the Lord Jesus was such a target of contempt and rejection by all the people. He was despised, and his religion has been the common “mark” or “sign” for all the wicked, the profligate, and the profane, to curse, and ridicule, and oppose. Never was a prophecy more exactly fulfilled than this. Thousands have rejected the gospel and fallen into ruin. Thousands are still falling over Jesus. Thousands blaspheme him, deny him, speak all manner of evil against him, and would crucify him again if He were in their hands. But thousands also “by” him are renewed, justified, and raised up to life and peace. Oh yes He is indeed a sign and stumbling block for the multitudes.
That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed – The rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish rulers will sufficiently prove that they sought the honour which comes from the world, and not that honour which comes from God, because they rejected Jesus, merely for the reason that He did not bring them a temporal deliverance. So the very Pharisees, who were loud in their professions of sanctity and devotedness to God, rejected Jesus, and had him crucified, because His kingdom was not of this world. Christ and His gospel exposes hearts. Be careful the same doesn’t have to you just because Jesus didn’t fulfil or match what you expected. You could go the same way; the same could happen to you (viz Romans 11).
This baby would bring a sword to divide parents from children, family even the inner heart of the individual. Well that is to be expected given the nature of the Word of God (Heb 4:12) and that the fact that he is the Living Word, the Word made flesh.
Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it!Rick Godwin
No one is fit to comprehend heavenly things until he has surrendered himself to suffer adversity for Christ.Thomas a Kempis
When you go through disappointments, you may feel like you’ve been buried, but the fact is, you’ve simply been planted. your coming back!Joel Osteen
God is your Creator, not your concierge; your Savior, not your slave. He is God, not a genie. You exist for him, not vice-versa.Rick Warren
I cannot live the Crucified Life unless my tongue is nailed to the cross. My words betray my true condition.Rick Warren