The Mystery of the Significance of Christ (continued)
Christ Determines Destiny
First of all, Simeon says that this Child - the Christ - is going to determine destiny. He "is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel." There are several different translations of these words. Firstly, they may mean that some will fall, never to rise again, as they come up against the Lord Jesus. They will find Him a stumblingblock. It was said in the Scriptures that He would be a stumblingblock to many (Isaiah 8:14). Many would strike their foot against Him and go headlong. How true that has proved to be! Coming up against the Lord Jesus, and not being willing to accept the offence of the Cross, not being willing to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, not being willing to take up the Cross and follow Him, they have gone headlong, and their destiny has been settled by their contact with the Lord Jesus. It is ever so. On that side He is set for the falling of many; that is, He is put there to find out whether we really mean business with God or not; and many coming up to Him and finding Him and His way an offence have turned and gone again, God only knows to what. "Set for falling ... of many."
"And rising of many;" and oh, what a glorious story is bound up with that! Many have come to Him, sensible of something of the cost, recognizing that in which they will be involved if they should link on and go with Him. Nevertheless, they have chosen Him; and what a lifting it has meant for them! Yes, from the dunghill to be set among the Princes of His people (1 Samuel 2:8). "We maketh the rebel a priest and a king." You and I know just a little of what it means to have been lifted by reason of with the Lord Jesus. But how much more there is yet to be, for He has given His word that some shall sit with Him in His Throne, even as He overcame and sat down with His Father in His Throne (Revelation 3:21). What a rising! A long and wonderful story could be told of men who have been lifted by the Lord Jesus. The settling of destiny: some will fall, some will rise. Their attitude toward the Christ will determine for ever which it is going to be.
These words may also mean that many will fall and also rise, and in this connection there is a mighty army. I see Peter in that company. Oh, this self-elevated,self-confident, self-assured, boasting Peter! "Even if I must die with thee, yet will I not deny thee" (Matthew 26:35). There was a man who was up, but up on a false platform, and when he came really into touch with Christ crucified he fell - but, praise God, to rise again. Christ, Who brought him down, brought him up. See that great Saul of Tarsus riding his highhorse to Damascus, and what a highhorse it was! Oh, how self-sufficient and self-important and self-confident was young Saul of Tarsus! He came down off that highhorse into the dust at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth - the most humiliating thing that could ever have been conceived by him. 'Jesus of Nazareth, that false prophet, that impostor, that blasphemer of God, that one who was hanged on a Cross, bearing what our law declares to be the mark of the curse of God resting upon him!' Think of that man humbled at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth and saying, "What shall I do, Lord?" Has he not come down? Yes, but did he come up? "this child is set for the falling and the rising of many."
It will always be like that, one thing or another. We shall go down before Jesus Christ, we shall come up, according to our attitude and response to Him, according to whether we refuse or accept, obey or disobey; He determines it. Coming down from our own natural strength and fullness, in brokenness, humiliation and shame at His feet, confessing Him Lord - a hand will take us and lift us to such wonderful heights of grace.
(continued with # 20 - (Christ A Sign Spoken Against)