34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
1901 ASV Translation:
34 and Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against;
35 yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.
I. And Simeon Blessed Them...
A. In all likelihood, Simeon said some words to them of God's favor upon them.
B. Luke's point is that "blessing" is in attendance with the birth of the Christ -- i.e., "good" is coming through Him. The setting implies that Simeon was filled with joy and gladness and was expressing this spiritual exuberance because the Salvation of God was in his arms.
II. And Said to Mary His Mother...
A. The "blessing" was upon "them", but his words were directed to Mary.
B. The descriptive phrase, "His mother", is interestingly redundant.
1. It naturally brings up the entire realm of "mother" things, but the focus of the text is that of 2:33 and 48: those most involved and, thus, most affected. Simeon's words are specifically "to" (emphatic preposition) Mary in her "mother" identity.
2. There is no need for us to be told Mary is His mother in the "informative" sense of being told something we do not already know with no doubt; but, in order for the words to carry their most profound impact, we need to be thinking of her in her "mother" identity. This is most likely because the text speaks of "blessing" and "motherhood" and then turns right around and warns Mary that she is going to have to endure the sword. This kind of contrast of expectations is precisely what had Joseph and Mary confused over Simeon's words.
III. Behold This One is Set...
A. The focus of Simeon's words is upon the "destiny" of Jesus.
1. The word "is set" is the term used in 2:12 as a part of the "sign" given to the shepherds. As that "sign" developed in history, Jesus became the "bread of life" (in fulfillment of the 'mangers are for food for the sheep' thesis) that was ultimately enshrined in what we call "the Lord's Table" where we acknowledge His identity as the root of our lives just as the bread/wine issues of "food" are the staples of physical existence.
2. Thus, Jesus' "lying in a manger" was far more than simply having a manger as a handy bed for a newborn; it was a statement of His "destiny" in the plan of God to become the Bread of Life.
3. Thus, it is Jesus' "destiny" to be the catalyst for the falling and rising of many.
B. The issues of "falling" and "rising" are fundamental issues of Life.
1. In the final sense, "falling" in respect to Life is "dying" -- i.e., losing one's life. The only other time this noun is used in the New Testament it is in the teaching of Jesus about the greatness of the "fall" of the house built upon the sand. The point there was that a complete destruction came upon the house built upon a poor foundation.
2. In that same sense, "rising" in respect to Life is "entering into the great fulness of what life is all about" -- i.e., experiencing Life. The word "rising" is used 42 times in the New Testament text and 39 of those times it is translated "resurrection".
3. The point here is that Jesus is going to be the determining catalyst for both "falling" and "rising" -- in other words, He is going to be the Determining Factor of whether one experiences final death or life. This is His "destiny".
4. The "of many in Israel" maintains a special focus upon the nation as God's elect instrument of salvation for the world. In this chosen group, the distinction will be drawn as to the way of Life and "many" will be "pruned away" and "fall" and "many" will be "lifted up" and "live". Clearly judgment begins at home before it goes out into the world.
C. The issues of "the sign spoken against"...
1. Jesus is the Ultimate Sign -- especially in terms of the Bread of Life thesis -- and the issues are the issues of the Thesis: in Him is Life.
2. As the Ultimate Thesis, Jesus will be embraced or "spoken against". He will be accepted as the Root and Fruit of Life, or He will be "denied and resisted" by both speech (in final doctrinal terms) and other, perhaps more potent, activities. The tongue is the initiating spark, but the activities sponsored by it are the conflagration that ensues. There is no "middle road" in "religion"; there is only Truth and Error and the ensuing conflict is inevitable in a created universe. For the "return" to Truth, there will be the "falling" of many into final Death, and there will be the "rising" of many to the newness of Life. Thus the purveyors of "Tolerance" are, in reality the "Intolerant of Jesus"...revealing how enslaved they are to the Lie. So Mary herself will become a "victim" of the reality and will have a sword pierce her own soul. But, the final reality will be the "unveiling" of the thoughts of the hearts of all and the final judgment will be executed for the children of the Kingdom (Romans 2:16).