Questions From Readers
● Simeon, a reverent man in Jerusalem, referred to Jesus as God’s “means of saving” and “a light.” He also said that Jesus was “laid for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel.” To Mary, Simeon further said, “yes, a long sword will be run through the soul of you yourself.” (Luke 2:29-35) What did Simeon mean?—C.R., Scotland.
By means of the holy spirit it had been divinely revealed to Simeon “that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ of Jehovah.” (Luke 2:26) When he was an old man, Simeon realized the fulfillment of that promise. Being moved by the holy spirit, he came to the temple on the very day that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus there in compliance with God’s law. (Luke 2:22-24; Lev. 12:1-8) It was then that Simeon took the child into his arms, blessed God and declared: “Now, Sovereign Lord [Jehovah], you are letting your slave go free [into death] in peace according to your declaration; because my eyes have seen your means of saving that you have made ready in the sight of all the peoples, a light for removing the veil from the nations and a glory of your people Israel.”—Luke 2:29-32.
By these words Simeon foretold that Jehovah would provide salvation for mankind through Jesus, that he was indeed God’s “means of saving.” This one would also be “a light” for removing from the nations the veil of spiritual darkness, and he would be “a glory of [God’s] people Israel.” As a result of Christ’s ministry, people of Naphtali and Zebulun, in the region of Galilee, for example, saw “a great light,” in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1, 2. (Matt. 4:13-16) Interesting, too, is the fact that Jesus Christ himself declared: “I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.”—John 8:12; Isa. 42:6; 49:6.
However, Simeon also declared: “Look! This one is laid for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel and for a sign to be talked against . . . in order that the reasonings of many hearts may be uncovered.” (Luke 2:34, 35) These words indicated that some would accept Christ and be lifted up from their already fallen state, whereas others would reject him; they would stumble over him and fall. Jesus did indeed prove to be a stone of stumbling to many Jews. (Rom. 9:30-33; Isa. 8:14; 28:16) Simeon’s words do not mean that individual Israelites would experience both things, first fall in unbelief and then rise in belief, accepting Jesus Christ. Simeon was talking about the final outcome of matters. While reactions to Jesus Christ varied with different individuals, surely in connection with him the reasonings of many hearts were uncovered, leading to God’s judgment toward them, for good or for bad.
With reference to Mary, Simeon said: “Yes, a long sword will be run through the soul of you yourself.” The sword mentioned here is not literal. There is no Scriptural indication that Mary had an actual sword run through her. But what Simeon said did indicate that one day Jesus’ mother would be smitten with sorrow. The rejection of Jesus Christ by many Jews must surely have distressed her. But she certainly experienced poignant grief when she saw her son dying upon the torture stake.