“Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — and a sword will pierce your own soul — that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.””
Luke 2:34-35 HCSB
These had to have been hard words for Simeon to speak out, but they had to have been even harder words for Mary to hear. I am glad I wasn’t Mary when Simeon spoke these words to me. I would have yanked my baby back and shouted to Simeon, “You take those words that you just spoke over my child back!”
First Simeon blessed both Joseph and Mary. Our words carry power to them.
“A gentle tongue (with its healing power) is a tree of life, but willful contrariness in it breaks down the spirit” Proverbs 15:4
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it (for death or life). Proverbs 18:21
“For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.” Matthew 12:37
I could go on and on with verse after verse about the power of our words. I promise I looked up the word tongue in my concordance.
God created the world with just His spoken words, “Let there be….” then there was. We are created in His image so the Lord God put creative power in our words also. In our words we have the ability to speak life into a person or death into a person. We have the ability with our words to put courage inside a person or we have the ability to fill a person with doubt. I believe this principle with my whole heart. I have lived 54 years and I have seen this principle played out over and over again, not only in my own life but in the lives of others I love.
So when Mary hears these words of Simeon’s, I wonder did she already feel the knife piercing her soul?
Now if you will remember, Simeon is being animated by the Holy Spirit in this scene we find him in. “The Holy Spirit was upon him.” Luke 2:25 His tongue and his words are now being controlled by the very Spirit of the Most High God who is Wisdom Himself. I just can’t help but noticing how Simeon delivers this prophecy over Mary’s Son.
First he blesses both Joseph and Mary. He speaks well of both of them. He speaks life into their parenting. With Simeon’s words, God speaks prosperity and happiness into Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ life together. Think of it! These two were the parents God chose to bring up and child rear and raise His Son. He is using Simeon to speak life and wisdom into their parenting skills. I can just hear the words, “You can do it! I have given you two everything you need for life and godliness. I will give you the wisdom you will need at the time you need it to help my Son in this journey!” Parents are the first in line to dole out encouragement to their children. Joseph and Mary were the ones God chose to give Jesus a foundation in godliness. So Simeon blessed them. Simeon spoke a blessing over them. Words have power in them I don’t think we fully understand.
So the blessing came first and then the words spoken only to Mary. Words that would carry with them a sharp knife pain slicing through her heart.
“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power making it active, operative, energizing, and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life and soul and the immortal spirit, and of joints and marrow of the deepest parts of our nature, exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thought and purposes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
With Simeon’s blessing, Mary’s heart was opened. She was softened toward this stranger that had just come up and taken her Baby out of her arms. And then comes the truth spoken in love. Hard words mixed in with mercy. Piercing words mixed in with the Balm of Gilead.
“This Child is destined, this Child is appointed to be the cause for the fall and also of the rising of many in Israel.” This was Jesus’ destiny. It was why He came, it was why He was born on earth. The fall and the rise, the good the bad, the ying the yang. For those who accepted His destiny, “the rise” for those who denied His destiny, “the fall”. That is the paradox of why He came. Simeon saw this as he held his Savior. He looked into the eyes of this mother of Jesus, and with the eyes of God, Simeon saw the days and times the life of Jesus would be the sword that would pierce through her soul. Simeon didn’t withhold these slicing words; he couldn’t. God wanted Mary to hear them. He had to speak what God’s Holy Spirit was telling him to say, no matter how hard they might have been to hear. God sprinkled each hard word with softness before them. Jesus who is the Very Word of God had come to expose the thoughts and purposes of hearts so that everything could be brought to light and that by His life, death, and resurrection all could be reconciled and restored to God’s original intent for man. This is what Simeon saw and knew in that moment of holding “The Promise.” Now he could leave this world in peace because God had fulfilled His Word to Simeon.
Years later Jesus would try to explain His reason for coming to earth to a group of his closest friends. Another Simon answered Jesus, “No Lord, may it not be so.” Jesus replied to Simon, “Get behind me Satan.” At the time Simon spoke, he was not yet filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Only the Holy Spirit of God can help us understand the ways of God. Only the Holy Spirit of God can help us see the power of our words.
Our words can speak life, or our words can speak death. It is our choice. Let’s be careful what we say to each other!