Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Luke 2:34-35 New Living Translation
The birth of Jesus was a watershed moment in the history of Israel and the world. As Jesus began to live out His purpose on Earth, those around Him had a serious decision to make. Would they fully embrace the perfect model of the image of God He represented? Or would they see the cost to their personal ambitions too great and reject Him? Ironically, it was often the most religious people that would reject Him. They had set up a manageable system of judgments that kept themselves as the insiders of God’s people while keeping the undesirable people out. Jesus would challenge that system and many would oppose Him because of it.
According to Simeon’s prophecy, others would be raised up, though. As Jesus walked the Earth, He became attractive to many of the people that the religious system had rejected. Through Jesus, they would find their dignity again. The image God had created for them would emerge out from all the tarnish that the Fall and the corruption of the world had covered them with. As they found their self-worth in following Jesus, they would leave behind the sinful patterns they had built up in their lives and learn to live a new way as children of the Most High God. This pattern was repeated time and time again throughout the life and ministry of Jesus.
The opposition that Jesus would face from His own people would cost him dearly. According to Simeon’s prophecy, it would also pierce the heart of Mary. She would live to see her son rejected by the culture she had grown up in. She would be at the foot of His cross when His opponents claimed what they thought was their final victory. She would also know the joy of His resurrection three days later.
The life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus continue to be a watershed moment for each of us to this day. We all face a point of decision when we choose if we will take Jesus fully at His word or if we will choose to live in the delusion that we know better. It’s a choice we make on a daily basis. If we choose to follow Jesus fully, we will also experience opposition from those who want to maintain the status quo. In the end, though, we find out what it is truly like to be a human being created in the image of God. We find a life that is better than anything we have dreamed of before.
Jesus, Your words and Your life challenges us in so many ways. Teach us to live according to the image of humanity You have created for us and to reject the patterns of our culture that oppose you.