In Luke’s birth narrative of Jesus there is a wonderful scene as Mary and Joseph take their newborn boy to the temple to be dedicated. There they encountered Simeon, a godly man to whom the Lord had promised would see the Messiah with his own eyes. As old Simeon took the baby Jesus into his arms he said to Mary:
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (2:34-35).
The final section of John chapter seven bears witness to the truth of those words. Once again people are divided over the Person of Jesus. Who is he precisely? Where has he come from? Does he possess the right to speak with such authority? And as faithful old Simeon prophesied, Jesus will be the source of the fall and rising of many. This was true during Jesus’ ministry. It remains true today throughout the world.
These radically different responses to Jesus owe to the words he spoke and that which the Apostles would later proclaim about him. Had Jesus largely remained silent and instead focused on miracles and works of compassion he would have been praised by everyone as a good man. Had he not challenged the doctrinal ignorance of Israel’s leadership, much less proclaimed himself to be the I Am, Jesus would have lived out his days in peace, enjoying the favor of all the people. Had Jesus not claimed the authority to forgive sin and presented himself as the fulfillment of Israel’s religion, he would never have been nailed to a cross. But neither would we still be talking about him today.
Because of the powerful message Jesus proclaimed which was confirmed by his death and miraculous resurrection men and women around the world must still make a choice concerning him. Will we turn away from him? Will we mock him? Will we seek to patronize him? Or will you hear the Savior’s promises, listen to his message and flee to him for pardon and life eternal?