Next Sunday we have one of my favorite types of services at our church. We have a dedication service planned for a little boy that was born back in September of last year. This is always a special time for the family and friends as they commit their child to the Lord. It reminds me of the journey that Joseph and Mary made to bring their baby, the baby Jesus, to the temple to dedicate him to the Lord shortly after His birth. When they are in the process of dedicating Jesus a man by the name of Simeon comes up and begins to pronounce great blessings on this child. What an amazing experience this must have been for Mary and Joseph. And yet as Simeon goes on he says something very strange to Mary in the chapter 2 about this child. Beginning in verse 33 we read: “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “this child is destined to cause a falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too”, (Luke2:33-35 NIV). This was a glorious occasion for Mary and Joseph. There are few more delightful experiences that one can have then dedicating their child, who is a gift from God, back to God. And yet in the midst of this dedication Simeon’s words hang as a dark cloud over this event. I wonder if in the preceding years Mary sensed the significance of Simeon’s words. I wonder if when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus following their trip to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 if she thought this surely must be what Simeon was talking about. We lost my two-year-old daughter one time in the Sears in Arlington, Texas and the next 10 minutes were some of the most frightening that we have ever experienced as parents. But Mary and Joseph were looking for Jesus for at least two days without finding him and when they finally found him his simple words were, “did not know I had to be in my Father’s house?”. I wonder if perhaps when Jesus was performing miracles and teaching God’s Word and wasn’t working as Mary expected him to if she wondered if that was the experience of having the sword pierce her heart. Remember the experience in Matthew 12 where we read these words: While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “your mother and brothers are standing outside wanting to speak to you”. He replied to them, “who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “here is my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother”, (Matt.12:46-50 NIV). Surely Mary must’ve felt that this is what Simeon was talking about when he said that the sword would pierce through to her very soul. I’m afraid not Mary. I’m afraid that God has something much darker in mind concerning Simeon’s words when he said “that the sword will pierce your own soul too”.
When did Mary fully understand the significance of Simeon’s words? That occurred when she stood by the cross of her precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now in Jesus’s supreme hour of agony Mary stands before him. Mary’s name in the Hebrew is Mara, which means bitter. Can you imagine anything more bitter than what Mary experienced as she stood before the cross of Jesus Christ, imagine the shame and the sorrow of this occasion. Never has a parent been more disillusioned by a deeper sense of failure in believing what Jesus’s mission was and what it actually turned out to be. Now Mary understands the word that was spoken to her by Simeon “that a sword would pierce through to her very soul”. She had changed His diapers, she had taught Him to walk, she had helped Him learn a variety of languages and she even nursed Him. She had rejoiced in the visit of the shepherds and was richly blessed by the visit of the Wiseman, but now even as Jesus is hanging on the cross He provides a substitute for Himself. We read Jesus’s words spoken to His mother in John’s Gospel when we read: “Dear woman, here is your son”, and to disciple, “here is your mother”. From that time on, this disciple took her into his home”. (John19:26-27 NIV). Even with the weight of the whole world sins bearing down on Him Jesus still took time to provide for His aged and widowed mother. Under the heaviest of burdens Jesus still saw His loving obligation to His mother and it was very important for Him to provide for her need. As Jesus died as our substitute for our sin He provides John as a substitute to care for His mom. That is not the end of Mary’s comfort either. We don’t know how or when Mary found out about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ but we can only imagine that her reaction to this news was one of incredible joy. Mary received the greatest news that any parent could ever receive. That news being that your dead child is now alive. What an amazing journey it was for Mary to be the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. And just as Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to John so Jesus has entrusted the care of lost souls to us. It is our privilege to represent Jesus in our everyday lives and to tell the world of the great things that He has done. So let us rejoice in the risen Savior knowing that He is working in and through us to be salt and light to a dark and tasteless world.
All for God’s glory,