Response to Jesus; December 27, 2022

Luke 2:34-35 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

This was hardly a comfortable prophecy for Mary to hear! That said, it was certainly accurate. The expression, “falling and rising” is interesting, because it seems to refer to the same people. In a sense we have to fall, recognizing and confessing our sin, before we can rise with the forgiveness and redemption of Christ. In any case, people’s response to Christ certainly reveals the thoughts of their hearts. As Jesus Himself said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21) On top of all of that, there is the statement that Mary’s heart would be pierced with a sword. I imagine it felt like that to her when she saw the spear enter Jesus’ side, just below the ribs, and go up through his heart, releasing blood and water. (John 19:34) The thing is, God knew everything that was going to happen, since He is outside of time, and carried through with the plan of redemption anyway, because He knew the outcome would be glorious. We are still in the middle of it all, and sometimes it can feel like our own hearts are being pierced. We need to remember that the final outcome will be good indeed, and “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

I’ve never gone through anything that felt like a sword piercing my heart, but I can imagine circumstances that would probably feel like that. I have experienced plenty of lesser trials, and my response has not always been good. Frankly, even day-to-day irritations can make me pretty hard to get along with! That’s definitely not good, and it reveals that the thoughts of my heart are not always in line with my Lord. I am not to react negatively to opposition, but remember that even from infancy, and actually long before He was born, Jesus was prophesied to endure opposition, and if I am fully submitted to Him, I can share in His victory. The more I am like Him, living and acting as His agent, the more people’s responses to me will reveal the thoughts of their hearts. I am not to condemn them for that, but pray for them and keep speaking the truth in love, so that they may perhaps repent and believe for their own salvation, for the glory of God.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that the highly stressful Christmas season is coming to a close, with one last class Christmas party this afternoon. I pray that the seeds that have been sown would indeed sprout and grow and bear fruit, drawing many to repentance and faith for their salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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