Simeon blesses Jesus
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.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
For the 1st century readers of Luke’s gospel, Jesus would have likely been a recognizable name. The gospel appears to have been written some time after His death, probably in the late 60’s. Therefore, it seems as though Luke’s inclusion of the prophecy against Israel might not have been so out of place.
This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against (Luke 2:34)
By this time the uprisings against the Roman powers had already begun and slaves were on the verge of revolt also. The first Jewish-Roman war was from 66-73CE. No doubt, the fall of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation was looking imminent. Besides the revolts by the Jews, many Roman leaders were actively persecuting the Jews and the Christians because of their connection with Jesus, who was being called the king. Such events were even recorded in the book of Acts.
5 But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’shouse in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the worldhave now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.”8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.
So, why would like include this relatively unknown prophecy about Jesus? I believe it’s helpful for the audience at the time. It’s for perspective about the current trials they are facing. It is also reassuring that the current trials are not by accident but by design. But for those who read on in the gospel, they will discover that it’s not over. Jesus is on the throne and the gospel message cannot be stopped.
Any suffering in this life will be corrected when Jesus returns. That truth is of all people, not just for Luke’s audience. There is coming a day with no more tears and no more burden. But while we are here on this earth we should expect that we will endure trials.
[Featured image is a relief carving, depicting the Romans celebrating the sack of Jerusalem on the Arch of Titus in Rome.]