A Savior Who Divides, A Savior Opposed

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When the long-promised, long-awaited Savior finally comes to his nation he will not be welcomed by all.

This is the nineteenth post in the series The Musical That Changed The World.

It would be natural to expect the nativity story to end on a note of joy and glory. For all the angelic appearances, miraculous conceptions, songs, promises, and messianic expectations, when the story brings baby Jesus into the Temple for the customary blessing of the firstborn son, we find that it closes on a dark, prophetic note.

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35 ESV)

He is appointed for two things. First, he is to cause the fall and rise of many, not outside of Israel, but within the very nation that looked forward to his coming. Yet, this isn’t a surprise. The prophet Malachi warned of this:

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers ‘soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver,…” (Malachi 3:2-3 ESV)

mary_simeonThe day of the Messiah’s coming is not something many will be able to stand. The Savior will divide the nation. The rising and falling is seen right off the bat in Jesus’ ministry as he chose to invest himself in 12 common men, not those from the political and religious leaders of Israel.

Second, he is appointed to be a sign that is opposed. That means many will oppose him as a legitimate Messiah. He won’t just be ignored or dismissed, he will be actively opposed. He will not just face indifference, he will face battle from his own. We will see this opposition in chapter 4 of Luke where Jesus is preaching in the synagogue of his own home town, and the response was not one of joy.

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (Luke 4:28-29 ESV)

And the last note is particularly devastating to Mary, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see that this sword that will pierce her heart is the sword of seeing her son beaten and crucified. This crucifixion reveals those who belong to God and those who do not.

Read the previous post A Light to Gentiles, Glory to Israel.

See the index of the series The Musical That Changed The World.

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