Tuesday, November 3, 2009

11/3 Luke 2:33-35 Rising and Falling of Many

(Simeon: Arent de Gelder)

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

11/3 Luke 2: 33-35

33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 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, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Calvin abridged: “father and mother marveled”- It was not that they were astonished as if it was something new, but that they contemplated with revered and embraced with admiration, this prediction of the Spirit from the lips of Simeon- so that they continued to make progress about the knowledge of Christ. We can learn from their example that we need to collect everywhere we can, whatever may aid our faith. 34p “Simeon blessed them” – It might be asked, “What right had Simeon to bless Christ” (cf. Heb. 7:7)? But it is proper that we pray for each other. There would be no absurdity in saying that he prayed for the prosperity and advancement of his kingdom (Ps. 118:26). “This child is destined”- While this was addressed directly to Mary, it applies to all the godly. The holy virgin needed this admonition so that she would not be so lifted up by prosperous beginnings that she would not be prepared for enduring afflictions to come. She needed to know that Christ would not be received with universal applause so that she would have unshaken courage against hostile attacks. So we too should be prepared for the world’s hostile attacks against Christ. So we must put on the armor of Christ (Eph. 6:11) against those who not only reject him as King, but treated him with such contempt and outrage. So there was a good purpose to Simeon’s prediction of Christ as destined to cause the fall (ruin) of many in Israel. But it should be noted that the ruin of unbelievers is caused by their striking and rebelling against him. Many oppose Christ for different reasons, but they unite in their opposition to him. This opposition in every place is a plain evidence of human depravity. Isaiah said the same thing: “he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” This same madness is sometimes evident even by those who call themselves Christians, and even leaders in the Church. “The rising (resurrection) of many”- This is a consolation which is in contrast to the former clause (cf. 1 Pt. 2:4-7; Is. 28:16). That we might not be terrified that Christ is a stone of stumbling, he is also designated a “corner stone”, on which rests the salvation of all the godly. Christ is not only the support, but the resurrection of the godly- meaning that our condition is such that we must rise from death in order to live. 35- “a sword will pierce your own soul too”- Though Mary’s faith was agitated by various temptations, her greatest temptation was the cross- for there Christ appeared to be utterly destroyed. Many join the Church to become prosperous, but when they find they are asked to bear the cross, and that the Church is exposed to numerous calamities, they easily desert their post.

Thoughts: In a perfect world, everyone would accept the kingship of Jesus, and follow Him. But in this world the Church (and we as individuals in the Church), must still bear the cross. Sin blinds us to his kingship, and blinds us to the need to face the cross. Mary had a hard time accepting his ministry too (8:19-21), and if she did, we at times will as well. Yet despite “a sword piercing her own soul”, Mary was a faithful leader in the church. When at times it pains us to be Christian. When maybe a brother is turned against brother, or a child is turned against their parent because of Christ, it pierces our own soul. Yet, we should not allow those who stumble at the rock of Christ to cause us to stumble as well. We need God’s Spirit to keep us faithful to Him though all fall away. In our day, many are turning away. As more turn away, the vocal and public opposition to the Church becomes greater. When the Church tries to be a conscience, it is taken as being mean (think of some of the things being said in Main’s vote today, or in Irmo’s vote today). Yet the Church should not fail to stand up for the cause of Christ, and for what it deems best for society as a whole—while at the same time realizing our main purpose is not political, but spiritual. Jesus did not speak politically much- but often turned the political things into spiritual lessons. The rising and falling that Simeon spoke of was not a political rising and falling- but a spiritual death and resurrection.

Prayer: In our world that is quick to pick up sides, help us to always be with you, Jesus. When so many fall away, give us grace to be faithful to who you are.

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