And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
– Luke 2:22-35 (ESV)
Simeon is a favorite of mine, and I’ve written about him before. I’m amazed at the faith and faithfulness of this man, for whom the crowning joy of his life was simply a glimpse of Jesus. Thus was God’s promise fulfilled to him, and so he was ready to die in peace.
I once had a New Testament teacher claim that Simeon probably told every beaming new mother that he met in the temple that their son was the Messiah. In other words, Simeon was just a kindly and amiable old man. At the time that seemed “off”. Now it seems preposterous. Read Simeon’s words to Mary; they were not words of comfort.
Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.
Simeon had wisdom from the Lord, and his words recorded in Luke carry great import. During Christmas we often marvel at the wonderful event of the birth of Christ, and with the angels we sing “peace on earth, good will toward men upon whom his favor rests”. It’s easy to forget that the price of our peace was Calvary.
The birth of Jesus was the pivotal event in the history of the universe up to that time. And it was not an event that allows us to remain by the manger cooing at our infant Lord. Jesus came to accomplish a great salvation; the great salvation of a race blinded, bent and broken by sin so grievous that it took the incarnation of God himself to remedy it. This salvation cannot be ignored; Jesus came to earth and the result is the rising and falling of many, the revelation of the thoughts and intents of our human hearts, the final identification of each one of us. In the end, we stand either with our Lord, identified with him and his cross of suffering, or we stand with those who rejected him and put him on the cross and killed him. There is nowhere else to stand, no middle option.
If you don’t know him, may Christmas be a time of new birth for you. May it be the time of your rising!