In the previous weeks we have seen what Simeon said about Jesus. First, he identified Him as the Lord's Christ (v.30). The name Jesus means "He shall deliver," and Christ (Messiah) is a title which means "Anointed One." Jesus was no ordinary boy; He is Emmanuel, "God with us." He came to "deliver us" from the bondage of sins, including the just penalty due them. Jesus is the only Deliverer for all the people groups of the world and all nations (ethnos: Gentiles). Simeon sees Christ and declares he is now ready to "depart." People are amazed at what is said. Then Simeon says something even more amazing to Mary in the verses that form today's text.
- Jesus is a stumbling-block for many - "This (He) is appointed for the fall of many" (v.34).
To the Jews a "stumbling-block" (see I Corinthians 1:2 skandalon) means anything in the way over which one may fall. It is something "scandalous" that gives people "offense." No doctrine was more offensive to the Jews than that their "Messiah" was to be put to death. Modern Jews even call Christians "followers of the man that was hanged" to deride Christ.
- People want a temporal Prince; a material Messiah, just as the Jews did in Jesus' day.
- People think of themselves in far better terms than they really are (i.e. "self-righteous").
- People have a hard time seeing God's love in the cross.
"We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God." Isaiah 53:4 was used to label Jesus the object of divine dereliction.
- Jesus is the Savior for many—"He is appointed for the rise of many..." (v.34).
What makes you different from one who falls? Why are you here on the Sunday after we celebrate Christmas? Why are you a believer and others are angry, hostile and offended? "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (I Corinthians 4:7). The subject is "Who" and not "What." Christmas is revelational. God opened your eyes. "For God who said, 'Let light shine,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6).
- Jesus becomes a sign opposed by many - "a sign opposed... a sword piercing" (v.34-35).
The sign referred to in v.34 is a reference to Isaiah 8:18 where God's everlasting love for His children is a "sign" to the world—spoken against by those who reject Jesus the Messiah. A sword piercing the heart is from Proverbs 12:18 where "rash words" are called sword thrusts. When you proclaim your faith in Jesus Christ and your testimony of God's unconditional, eternal love for your soul, this will be opposed and many will use their words as swords.
- Jesus is the Sovereign over all—"the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed" (v.35).
To what does this refer? It seems that on the Day of Judgments, the "hearts of men" will be exposed. An examination will take place and every "idle word," every impure thought will be judged by the Creator (Matthew 12:36) and that person who has refused to "Kiss the Son" will be judged according to the standard of God and sentenced. But what has this to do with the "swords" that pierce your heart? Love your enemy. God has the job of Judge, not you.