ADVENT MEDITATIONS No.24
24. Are you Rising or Falling?
Luke 2:33-35 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 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.”
Some people look at Scripture and say, “Oh, it’s difficult to understand” and so shut the book, and so reveal the weak state of their heart. Seekers turn to God and say, “Lord Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psa 119:18). They recognize that all Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16 ) and so seek the giver of it for understanding.
What do you think the falling and rising of many in Israel means in our verses above? It is a description of the effect this child is going to have. In the verse before, that we have not read, Simeon had prophesied, that Jesus was “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (v.32) or as the Message version puts it, “A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.” This baby, says Simeon under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will reveal God to the world and bring the glory of God back to this nation of Israel.
Now you might think that was good news but you might have forgotten an aside we made in Meditation 22: “The teachers had differing views of the sort of person this One would be. Some said a conquering king, other said a suffering servant, because the prophetic scriptures seemed to indicate both, and they couldn’t see how he could be both, so they opted for one or the other.” In other words people in Israel had differing but specific views of the Coming One and, as you’ll see if you read the Gospels, some people looked at Jesus and didn’t think he conformed to their expectations of him. He may have been a sign from God, but in the case of many he was a sign that will be spoken against. Jesus probably revealed the hearts of people, by their responses to him, more than any other person who has ever walked the earth.
There would thus be two main responses to Jesus. First there would be the oppressed and unloved who were accepted by Jesus and who found themselves being lifted up – the rising of many. But there would also be many who thought a lot of themselves and who thought Jesus didn’t match their expectations and these persons fell before God. They were revealed for what they truly were – less than the great people they thought they were.
How have you been responding to these meditations? How did you come to them? Did you come feeling in need of God, have you found the wonder of all the elements of the Christmas story warming and comforting; have you been lifted up? Or have you come feeling strong and self-confident and have you felt affronted by the talk of your needs? Have you felt you were being pulled down, and so felt defensive?
You see, it is just a Simeon said it was. The truth about Jesus reveals our hearts. The way we come to the Christmas story and the way we respond to it, reveals the state of our heart. Those who come seeking, find – and are lifted. Those who come self-confident and critical, go away despondent and still critical and are pulled down in their estimation – they fall. How has your heart been revealed? We pray that you will be lifted and blessed as you realize who you are, one who is inadequate but much loved by God. May it be so!