“Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too’.”
~Luke 2:34-35 (NRSV).
What a nebulous sort of prophesy. It must have struck both Joseph and Mary that this was a bit odd given the other signs and testimonies. But they’d have only needed awareness of the Old Testament prophesies—particularly Isaiah’s allusions to the ‘suffering servant’—to know the harrowing truth.
The dedication of Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ was also the site of the hell-raising revelation that he’d die a criminal’s death for the salvation of humankind.
Humankind will kill its Saviour!
There is a stark warning here to the parents. Mary herself would witness the most despicable act of history. But there’s more revelation to this prophesy than meets the eye.
Jesus the Judge – Unto the ‘Revelation’ of Human Hearts
The Word is Jesus (John 1:1-18). The Word “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints and marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 [NRSV])
This is chilling Scripture. Nothing can be hidden from Jesus—the Word of God.
The destiny of the boy child was set by this. To speak the truth, always and on all occasions, was going to get this small baby who’d grow to manhood into great portions of trouble; and that to achieve the will of the Father. And not only is there the unrelenting will of the Christ to speak truth, the Son of God knew every nuance of each heart. He could divine thought and understand the person’s rationale behind it. Nothing is hidden.
No Middle Ground
What the prophesy perhaps highlights most of all is the nature of side-taking. Believe or not. There is no middle ground. Tacit or half-hearted belief in Jesus, the heavily prophesied Messiah, is tantamount to unbelief, for it has tenth of an eye open to the world’s booty.
Some of the steady Jewish—those stately leaders—would instead of rising, fall. Those humble ones who were thought nothing of—those ‘pathetic’ gentiles and underling dispersed Jews; both later converted upon repentance—would be given a risen hand (James 1:9-11). Hypocrisy could not stand before Jesus—the Lord would spit it out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16).
And the design of these ideas of faithfulness melds with the aforementioned; the divider of false hearts is revealing, even now, to the entirety of eternity, each heart for what it’s moment is—true or false, righteous or wicked, humble or proud, loving or fear-etched.
Still, all this from the event of Jesus’ dedication!
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction & Commentary (Revised Ed.) Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1974, 1988), p. 98.