Yet Mary did not understand Christ's mission. Simeon
had prophesied of Him as a light to lighten the Gentiles,
as well as a glory to Israel.
Thus the angels had announced the Saviour's birth as tidings of joy to all peoples.
God was seeking to correct the narrow, Jewish conception of the Messiah's work. He
desired men to behold Him, not merely as the deliverer of Israel, but as the
Redeemer of the world. But many years must pass before even the mother of Jesus
would understand His mission.
Mary looked forward to the Messiah's reign on David's
throne, but she saw not the baptism of suffering by which it must be won.
Through Simeon it is revealed that the Messiah is
to have no unobstructed passage through the world. In the words to Mary,
"A sword shall pierce through thy own soul
God in His tender mercy gives to the mother of Jesus
an intimation of the anguish that already for His sake she had begun to bear.
[The preceding 60% of this paragraph was used by Rea in the
comparison for paragraph 13.] Joseph and Mary stood lost in wonder. How has this stranger come to see aught
uncommon in this child; how come to see in him the salvation of Israel? Have some
stray tidings of his birth come into the holy city from the hill country of Judea,
or has the wondrous tale the shepherds of Bethlehem "made known
abroad," been repeated in this old man's
hearing? What he says is in curious harmony with all the angel had announced to
Mary and to the shepherds about the child, and yet there is a difference; for
now, for the first time, is it distinctly declared that this child shall be
a light to lighten the Gentiles; nay, his being such
a light is placed even before his being the glory of
Israel. Has Simeon had a separate revelation made
to him from heaven,and is this an independent and fuller testimony borne to
the Messiahship of Jesus?
[Rea skips here to the next paragraph, an entire half a page,
to page 38.]
From all Mary had yet heard, she might have imagined
that her child would be welcomed by all Israel—so soon as the day for his
revelation came—as its long-looked for deliverer; and that a career of unsuffering
triumph would lie before him—a career in whose honors and bliss she could scarcely
help at times imagining that she should have a share. But now, for the first time,
the indication is clearly given that all Israel was not to hail her child and
welcome him as its Messiah; that hostility was to spring up even within the ranks
of the chosen people; that he was to be a "sign which should be spoken against;"
or rather—for such is the more literal rendering of the words—a butt or mark at
which many shafts or javelins should be launched. Nor was Mary herself to
escape. Among the many swords or darts levelled at his breast, one was to reach
hers: "Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul
that in the very centre of so broad and comprehensive a prophecy concerning Christ,
such a minute and personal allusion to Mary should come in; a high honor put upon
the mother of our Lord that her individual sorrows of her Son; and a singular
token of the tender sympathy of Him by
whom it was prompted, that now when her heart was filling with strange, bright hopes,
now while her child was yet an infant, now ere the evil days drew on, when she should
have to see him become the object of reproach and persecution, and stand herself to
look at him upon that cross of shame and agony on which they hung him up to die—that
now to temper her first-born joy, to prepare and fortify her for the
bitter trials in store for her, this prophecy should have been thus early spoken.
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the
glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:32)
(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of
many hearts may be revealed. (Luke 2:35)
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring
from on high hath visited us. (Luke 1:78)