“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is opposed…so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (
Luke 2:34-35)

Put yourself in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. At Jesus’ dedication in the temple, a sweet old man says, “Your Son will light up the dark world and show people what God is like and why they need him and he will be their Savior. And yet, some people will oppose him. So much so that this is going to be like a sword thrust through your gut, Mary. And, oh yeah, your heart is going to break, too.”

Ouch. Not what you expected, huh? But it’s true. Jesus brings some down and raises others up. He is a light that divides. When God comes to town in the person of Jesus, the truth about you and me and everyone else will be exposed. That’s what light does. It reveals what’s there. Some people hate this and it causes them to stumble over Jesus.

How do you know if you are rising or falling because of Jesus? If you sense how low you are and that you are nothing, be comforted, God delights in those who are low. If you run to the light of Christ not mainly because of all the darkness in the world around you—and there is darkness—but because of the darkness in you, be comforted. These are the ones who rise. God in his grace is drawing you to himself and humbling you.

On the other hand, if you are impressed with your morality or religious accomplishments or your occupational ambitions, God is opposed to you. If you think that you are “generally good” and not in need of God’s gracious intervention, the gospel will be a stumbling block to you. Who Jesus is and what he came to do will mean nothing to you.

How do you move from falling to rising? Like Simeon, humbly take your eyes off yourself and fix your eyes on Jesus. Then you will sing Simeon’s song with him: “Now you are letting your servant depart in peace…for my eyes have seen your salvation!”

Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Luke 2:22-35

  1. Have your eyes seen Jesus as your salvation? If not, why not? If so, are you increasingly seeing his majesty and beauty?
  2. Read. v. 32. Jesus is a light to the Gentiles—the nations. In what ways can you engage in shining his light to the nations?
  3. Read. v. 35 and Hebrews 4:12-13. What has God been revealing about your heart? What areas of your life are you trying to keep from being exposed to other people?
  4. Throughout the Gospels, it’s actually the religious people who stumble over Jesus. What religious activities or personal morality have actually kept you from  Jesus?

From We Look for Light: Readings and Reflections for Advent

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