And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking 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 carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:25-35).

This incident occurred at the Jewish temple when Joseph and Mary took the infant Jesus for presentation. They were being good Jews. Such presentation was the correct thing to do with any Jewish child (see Leviticus 12:6-8). All firstborns were to belong to God (see Exodus 13:1, 2).

This entire incident strikes us as strange. First, there is Simeon. He is a very godly man with the Holy Spirit on him. He has been informed by God that he will not die until he has seen the “consolation of Israel.” His understanding of that godly purpose for Israel was simply weird. It involved a salvation for all peoples, a “light of revelation to the gentiles” (see Isaiah 49:6), and an infant less than two months old!

Second, he said the strangest things about the infant. The work of the child (as an adult) would result in “the fall and rise of many in Israel.” He would be a sword that pierced his parents. He would reveal the thoughts of many. For some he would be alienation from God—for some he would be the avenue to God. To some he would be enmity against God—to some he would be peace with God. To some he would be death—to some he would be life.

Spring is here! Is that wonderful, or is that horrible? Is Spring to you new life and hope for a warmer tomorrow, or is Spring allergies and the misery of pollination? Is it the rain that brings flowers, or the wind that brings leaky roofs? Is it the prosperity of a better lifestyle, or the destruction of a tornado? Is it the promise of fresh produce, or the devastation of a hailstorm?

Is it not fascinating that things that produce the blessing and hope of life to some also produce the certainty of misery or death to others? Is it not thought-provoking to realize that which has potential for good at the same time contains potential for harm?

Whether Jesus is a blessing or harm depends on the acceptance or rejection of the individual. Only you determine if Jesus is your means of rising or falling.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 1 May 2008

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