Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday, May 8th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Samuel 17-18, Psalm 92, Acts 3
Today's scripture focus is Luke 2:31-35

Luke 2:31-35

English Standard Version (ESV)
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 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 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Accompanying MacArthur sermon: Testifying to Jesus: Simeon, Part 2
Accompanying Driscoll sermon: Jesus and the Temple
Accompanying Chandler sermon: Departing in Peace

Simeon had the amazing privilege of testifying that the baby Jesus was the Messiah.  He had been promised by God that he would see this day in his lifetime, and he did.

But Simeon also had some extra things to say that Mary and Joseph - and the rest of the Jews - would not have anticipated.

The first shock was that Jesus was a Messiah, not just for the Jews, but for all the peoples, including Gentiles.

To the Jews, Gentiles meant idol worship, turning the hearts of the people away from God, judgment, captivity and exile.  Gentiles meant nothing good. Remember the story of Jonah?  Gentile conversion was repulsive to the Jews.

To say that Jesus was going to be the Saviour of the world would have come as an unwelcome surprise, though it shouldn't have been.  Consider these words from Isaiah....

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 42:6-7 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you;  I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.Isaiah 49:6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Isaiah 51:4 “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation;
for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.
Isaiah 52:10 The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.  And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

The aversion to Gentiles was understandable - especially to the righteous remnant.  After all, the Gentiles were, quite simply, anti-God.

And yet, the OT prophecied that the Messiah would come for the whole world.

And Simeon confirms that here.  And Mary and Joseph marvel.

But that's not the last shocking thing Simeon tells them.

First, that Gentiles will be saved.
Second, that not all Jews will be saved.  Jews will be lost.
Fall. Opposed. Sword.
The first mention of negativity in Luke's gospel.  But Mary needs to be prepared for the coming hostility.  (This is likely spoken to Mary because it appears that Joseph dies before the start of Jesus' ministry).

The nation is going to be divided over Jesus.  And many are going to fall.
Irretrievable fall is intended here, a fall away from salvation into judgment and damnation. The language of Scripture is so vivid here. And that's exactly what happened. If you follow the career of Jesus Christ and what happens? The whole nation turns against Him and conspires with the Romans to have Him executed and only a small little group believed. Only that little faithful remnant would arise and the rest would fall over the rock of offense and the stone of stumbling.
Not only will there be separation but they'll be opposition. It isn't just that people will be divided over Him. It's not that they'll sort of just categorically line up on one side or another in a sort of moderately indifferent way, not at all. There not only will be separation, there will be opposition. In fact, look at the end of verse 34, "This child will be a sign to be opposed." He will represent, He will signify what people hate. Wow. What do they hate? They hate righteousness. Men don't love the light, they love...what?...darkness. To be opposed is the Greek verb antilegomenon(?) which means to contest. There's going to's not going to go smooth, Mary. His life is going to be held up and they're going to contest it. It's going to come from insults. It will start out with indifference. It will be insults, mockery, abuse, hatred, venomous vilification, plotting, physical torture and execution.
This...this is hard enough for us to believe today that this could happen in Israel, but for Mary, all she knew was her heart was overwhelmed with the joy of the arrival of Messiah. And now, all of a sudden, this. They're going to reject Him. They're going to oppose Him violently. Amazing. The long-awaited salvation of God, the long-awaited fulfillment of Abrahamic, Davidic promise, the long-awaited New Covenant ratified salvation, the long-awaited fulfillment of every Old Testament promise in the Messiah and you're telling me, first of all, the nation is going to be divided over the Messiah? Yes, and if she only knew at that time, divided, the tiny little group would rise, the mass would cry for His blood and fall into perdition. And opposition against the Messiah? Not from the Gentiles but from His own people? Unthinkable.
Again, we read this knowing how the New Testament plays out.  Mary and Joseph didn't know. This was absolutely shocking to them.

He turns from talking to the nations to talking to Mary personally....Mary, it's going to be real personal....We can't imagine a mother loving a child more than she loved Jesus. Can't imagine how hard it was when Jesus began to push her away on the human level. At twelve years of age He had to be about His Father's business, and in a sense He pushed her aside. Later when He was doing His first miracle in Cana He didn't call her "mother," He called her "woman." When she came to visit Him with His half-brothers and sisters on occasion, He was told that His mother and His brothers and sisters were outside and He said, "Who is My mother, who is My brothers except those who believe in Me." And He was moving Mary from being His mother to needing Him as a Savior. That would be something for her to deal with as He distanced Himself and yet she would love Him for His perfections.
I can't imagine any loving anyone more than she would love Him. No child would be more lovable, obviously. And when it came time for Him to be hated and ridiculed and mocked and pierced and executed, according to John 19:25, there she is standing at the foot of the cross watching the whole scenario unfold in front of her and certainly that would have rammed a sword through her mother's heart.
The distancing would have been hard to bear. The suffering of her Son, unimaginable torture for this woman who by then was in her forties and had grown not only to love Jesus as a Son, but Savior. But there was even more than that, I think. Mary was, of all things, a believing Jew who loved the Messiah and the promises of God and would have been pierced through the heart to see her nation reject her Son, to see the people turn against Him, to see the people of Israel forfeit the salvation of God and the Kingdom that had been promised to them. So much grief, so much affliction. She was an ordinary woman of flesh and blood like all of us, bearing enormous strain just being the mother of the Son of God, certainly from time to time bewildered and certainly cut to the heart with pain.
As a mother, I can only imagine the intensity of her pain.  From intense joy to intense pain.  This woman experienced the extreme ends of that spectrum.

When Jesus stands up, He's going to be a sign and people are going to oppose Him. And in opposing Him, there's going to be a revelation.
I remember reading years ago about a guy who took a friend on a tour through Paris, took him to the Louvre and showed him all the pictures. Took him to a concert hall in Paris that night to hear a great symphony. At the end of the day he said, "What do you think?" And he said, "I wasn't that impressed." To which his friend said, "If it's any consolation to you, the museum and its art were not on trial and neither was the symphony. You were on trial. History has already judged the greatness of those works of art and the greatness of that music. All that is revealed by your attitude is the smallness of your own appreciation."
Jesus isn't on trial but every soul is. And what happens is, He's raised up as a sign and by opposing Him, the wickedness of the heart is surfaced....
To be saved by Jesus, to enter into Jesus' Kingdom, your sin has to be exposed. If you acknowledge that and embrace that exposure and come to Him for forgiveness, you'll be saved and enter His Kingdom. If you hate that exposure and resent Jesus for doing it, you'll go to hell in your sins. So, His life was a revelation. How people responded reveals the condition of their heart.
Jesus isn't on trial but you are. And I'm sure that Mary, and many of the remnant must have thought, you know, when the Messiah comes it's all going to be wonderful and everybody will fall in love with Him. He'll be irresistible. He'll be so wonderful and so gentle and so meek and so mild.
And that's the Jesus people would like. But the fact of the matter is, He walked in to their apostasy, called it what it was, brought their sin to the fore, condemned them for their sin and they hated Him for it and it surfaced the wretched condition of their hearts. For some of them, they fell on their faces and repented, believed and were saved. For most of them, they cursed Jesus and put Him on a cross.

Wow, Simeon (and Luke) sure said a lot more in those verses than I thought.  Love digging into the Word and discovering these treasures.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 2:36-38
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Samuel 19-20, Psalm 93, Acts 4

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Great posts, Tammy. There is a lot in these verses! I loved learning more about Simeon.