Where There's Been a Fall
Joseph and his family had scarcely crossed the threshold of the temple with their turtledoves and pigeons to sacrifice for Jesus’ dedication, when the delighted old man descended upon them. Scooping up their little tyke into his embrace, Simeon went on to exclaim, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29–32).
Mary no doubt marveled over someone so righteous and devout as Simeon gushing over her Child like he did. Who wouldn’t? Granted, this wasn’t the first time it had happened. In fact, if one could daresay these glorious declarations regarding Jesus were becoming a pattern, Mary could. First, there’d been the angel Gabriel briefing her on Jesus’ mind-boggling entrance onto the scene, stating further that He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest . . . and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:26–35) Then came the wonderstruck shepherds rehashing how God’s glory lit up the starry sky while an exuberant heavenly host celebrated the birth of her Savior Child (Luke 2:8–19). Each incident left her stunned. All were safely tucked away in the most sacred places of her heart.
But what Simeon told her next had to rank right up there with the heavies. “Behold, this Child is appointed and destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against—and a sword will pierce through your own soul also—that the secret thoughts and purposes of many hearts may be brought out and disclosed (vs 34,35).
Such alarming words directed at one’s child would normally raise hackles on any mother’s back. Not Mary. She knew—at least in part—the destiny of her Son. Thus, she humbly received this first painful piercing of her nurturing soul.
The fall and rising of many . . .
If old Simeon was referring to nations, why didn’t he say, “the rise and fall of”? To God, the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are counted as small dust on the scales; (Isaiah 40:15). He makes nations great and He destroys them; He enlarges nations [and then straightens and shrinks them again] and leads them [away captive] (Job 12:23). Gulp!
Perhaps Simeon was referring to something different. History affirms time and again, Jesus’ impact not only on Israel, but upon us all. We’ve all been cut from the same mold of fallen humanity—our only bragging rights being that without Christ we are depraved sinners at best.
Here’s the kicker. Those already on their Christian pilgrimage, remember the pit from which they’ve been dug. Those perishing in their sins haven’t yet realized theirs. To them, the message of the cross seems foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18). Perishing, might I add, is an ‘ing’ word meaning, in the process of, which leads me to believe it’s not yet set in concrete—thus, the possibility of reversing the perishing process. Praise the Lord! If the only way up is to first realize we’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), then one of the kindest things God can do is to afflict some godly grief. Yes, godly sorrow and grief . . . that’s what our hurting, unsaved loved ones and friends—our nation—needs (2 Corinthians 7:9–11)!
Which feels like a Judas-type thing to pray right now with worldly sorrow escalating. People are already hurting as it is, why would we desire to give them more? It seems far more loving to tiptoe around the subject of their fallenness, and ask for God’s blessing and protection instead of God-ordained sorrow and grief. Don’t we want our loved ones to live comfortably? to prosper at every level? to stay unruffled by life’s raging storms? to never ever hurt? Lord knows how my prayers have kept scads of angels busy over the decades with like assignments.
But only those who know they are weak, and sick (in their fallen condition), call for the Great Physician to make them well (Matthew 9:12). As long as we believe we have it all together, we don’t ask for help. Jesus told the Pharisees, If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains (John 9:41).
The falling and rising of many . . .
Shouldn’t we rather ask God to inflict those we care about with a grief such as God meant you to feel . . . for a season, so that it brings a true turning of hearts in repentance, that then leads them to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8, 10)? Is anyone ever sorry they got saved? My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17). He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).
It’s not necessary for those we care about to experience sorrow upon sorrow just for the sake of sorrow, only to finally crash and burn, end of story (Luke 20:17,18). Where there’s been a fall, there can also be a rising.
Let’s keep praying.