And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel…
Simeon makes this declaration emphatically in reference to Israel; but he makes it prophetically in reference to the Gentile world, and to the multitudes which to the end of time shall come under the sound of the gospel.
I. We propose to ILLUSTRATE THIS REPRESENTATION OF OUR SAVIOUR'S MISSION. Illustrations may be borrowed from almost every circumstance in His work, and from every perfection in His personal ministration.
1. His very appearance in the first instance illustrated forcibly, and in some cases painfully, the truth of this declaration, that, on His entrance into our world, and on His revealing Himself by the ministry of His word, He should have been for the falling and for the rising again of many in Israel. But when Christ came, and His appearance was so contrary to all their expectations had led them to look for, they were prepared, not to receive Him, but positively to reject and dishonour Him. And so the appearance of Christ in the world is a stumbling-block to the present day. On the other hand, in reference to the appearance of Christ, He is set for the rising again of many in Israel. This was true of His temporal appearance among the people of Israel. While the princes and the rulers of that period passed Him by with scorn, and refused to listen to His Divine instruction, it is beautifully said that "the common people heard Him gladly." There was something in the very humility of His circumstances, in the poverty of His life, in the lowliness of His outward walk and conversation, which brought Him near to them, and them near to Him.
2. We receive a second illustration of the truth of this declaration from the mystery of the Redeemer's person. This representation of our Saviour's character was in His own time, has been in every succeeding age, and is in our time, the occasion of the falling and the rising again of many. There were many in His day who made it a stumbling-stone and a rock of offence. There was nothing in the history of the Jewish people which gave them such sore offence, and excited such bitter hatred to the kind Jesus Christ, as His announcing Himself to be the Son of God, and claiming equality with the Father. it was on this very ground that they persecuted Him through life; and it is very remarkable that on this very ground they at last put Him to death on the cross. Now, on the other hand, this very representation of our Saviour's person is life from the dead to those who believe in His name.
3. The ministry of Jesus Christ is also another method of illustrating the truth of this declaration: "This child is set for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel." Our Lord's ministry on earth was remarkable for the effect it had on those to whom it was directed. What was the falling away of the Jews in this instance was the gathering of the Gentiles.
4. This declaration is still further illustrated if we consider the death which Jesus died. Those who disbelieve, and disbelieve Him as a dying Saviour making atonement for sin, disbelieve the only remedy for sin, and fall fearfully from His presence. But on the contrary, where shall we find any representation of the Redeemer like the representation of the Redeemer crucified and dying, and rising again as the means of renewing our spirits, confirming our confidence, and elevating our hope. He died, but it is for the rising again of many.
5. Then, finally, it may be illustrated in the dispensation and economy of the gospel. But while it is for the rising again of many, it is also for the fall of many. The gospel dispensation has brought everything to an extreme; there is the extreme of mercy, and there is the extreme of judgment; God has discovered to us His grace, as we have never seen it; and God is discovering to us also His righteousness and His justice as was never shown before.Behold, for it is remarkable, "this Child is set for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel."
1. It is remarkable if we consider the great intention of Christ in coming into our world. Nothing can be more explicit than the intention of our Saviour and of the gospel in their appearance amongst us.
2. It is the more remarkable, in the second place, because the evil arising to us from the testimony of Christ is to be found in ourselves, and not in the Saviour. If it is said that Christ in His appearance shall be for the fall and rising again, for the condemnation as well as the salvation, of many, it is not so much descriptive of the intention of His coming as of the effect of His coming. But "behold" — let it be considered remarkable, fix your attention on it, that this arises from their own perversity, their own unbelief, their own sin. We are exhorted thus to behold and improve it because we have a serious concern in it.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;