We lament the sad state of affairs in the Church in our time as we should. However, we must remember that God is using this to reveal the authenticity of the faithful in contrast to the apostasy of the merely religious. That is why we must hang onto our Lord Jesus Christ in our faithfulness by the power of the Holy Spirit no matter what “Christian leader” attempts to capture us and lead us into following them into destruction.
34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35 (NASB)
Apostates, false teachers, those who seek redemption via religion, tares, and goats, have overrun the Church in our time. Since the beginning these people have been part of the visible Church, but now it appears that they have captured it and hold it prisoner. Much of the blame for this belongs to those who should be coming of age to lead the Church who have been compromised by humanistic teachings that make being a minister a “career move.” As a result these people are leading their churches further and further away from the real Jesus to follow one of their own making.
However, when Jesus was presented at the Temple for circumcision two of God’s people were led by the Spirit to prophesy about Him to Mary and Joseph and everyone who witnessed it. First Simeon came, led by the Spirit, to proclaim that this babe was the Messiah. After prophesying, Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph, telling them, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” What does that mean? To those who reject Jesus Christ, He is a stone of stumbling.
4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For this is contained in Scripture:
“BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone,
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
“THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,”
“A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”;
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 1 Peter 2:4-8 (NASB)
Those who receive Jesus Christ are raised up.
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:1-7 (NASB)
What is Simeon speaking of when he said, “and for a sign to be opposed”? This statement is a form of synecdoche, which means that Simeon is referring to a subset or part of the rejection of Jesus as the Christ of God by the Jews while in fact referring to all of their actions that sprung from it. Their rejection rose much higher than verbal insults or mere opposition. It culminated in their supreme hatred of our Lord that eventually led to His crucifixion. Mary witnessed our Lord’s crucifixion. Simeon prophesied that that would pierce her own soul like a sword. Her own personal grief and agony while watching her first-born son die horribly is in focus here.