Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)
Perhaps one of the most poignant moments of the true Christmas story occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus in a stable. It is hard to comprehend the emotions Mary must have experienced at that time. Having made the arduous journey to Bethlehem fully pregnant with the hidden Promise, and then watched and experienced such amazing scenes at the birth. Hearing the wonderful stories from the shepherds that spoke of Jesus’ destiny, she now makes another journey to Jerusalem to present their first born to the priest in the temple as their religious laws dictated….perhaps full of anticipation as to what that would bring.
And sure enough they meet more adoration for this miraculous Child in their arms. Old Simeon decreeing over Him the bright promise of who this babe is to all, Jew and gentile, causing both Mary and Joseph to marvel at the words. But, then in an almost more personal moment, comes these words, “yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also”. These words could only have pierced through those moments of joy, and also sent her on such a roller coaster of emotions.
In truth, really anyone’s understanding of what this all meant at that time could have only come through direct revelation from God, and insights from the prophets of old. With another elderly woman, Anna the prophetess, proclaiming the redemption for many through this Child, it would be completely understandable if Mary let the roller coaster of emotions of this moment just carry her on, and at best hide Simeon’s words in her heart.
Of course with the wisdom of hindsight we can see greater meaning, and read of the anguish of a mother, as years later she sees her beautiful boy, now a man, treated so harshly at the hands of the Pharisees and Romans, beaten and hung on a cross to die, and yet so completely innocent. Even worse, He seems most willing to accept the pain. Such sorrow that was predicted by an old man thirty odd years earlier, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, now jags in to reality. And yet this grief is understood by Christ, He knew it would come to her, but even more so for Him.
‘For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.‘ (Isaiah 53:2-6)
You see this Man of Sorrows knew all to well the grief that would come His way…and for His mother. His Heavenly Father had this as His mission. For He had laid on Him the iniquity of us all! All our wrongs, sins, and unbelief, thrown at Him, for us. This sorrow He gladly bore so we had the ability to come again to His Father through Him. Restoring the family. In this He turns sorrow in to joy, and later on Mary would also see this transition occur in her own life as she looked upon her resurrected Son, the Risen Lord, and then as she joined Him in heaven.
And yet the sorrow is still real, and for Christ, the Man of Sorrows, He continues to know this pain as He wrestles in intercession for us at the right hand of God.
For He desires all would be saved and join Him with His Father, and yet like it was when He walked on earth two thousand years ago, many still reject Him and the sacrifice He made. But joy comes as He sees many others receive this heavenly adoption, and welcomed in to His family, as they believe in Him, and follow. Him. It is this joy and hope He would ask that we carry to others at Christmas time, when we are to celebrate this gift, and gather with spiritual and earthly families. Perhaps, also by His Spirit we are to also carry His sorrow for others, knowing His heart for the lost, and those who grieve at this time due to loss or loneliness.
By God’s love in our hearts we can bring comfort to those with sorrow at this time. And yet their is also the greater commission where He calls us to join with Him in the great struggle for humanity, knowing His sorrow for the lost and those who reject Him, for those who grieve, and the broken families. For this He anoints us with the Spirit that can bring great comfort and joy to those around us as we share His love and words of truth, causing the miracle of life to abound.
For those who know only sorrow and grief at this time of the year, know this, their is One, Jesus Christ, who knows well your pain, loss, and rejection, and He reaches out His hand to pick you up and carry you. He would say, “believe it or not, there is truly a place of joy, for even though you meet such pain now, I have a place of peace and healing made just for you at My side. I gladly carried sorrow for it was for you, and know their is a Father who does not fail you, and because of love He pursues you”.