LUKE ii. 34. “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again
of many in Israel.”
THIS was a saying of the aged Simeon, when our Lord
Jesus was presented in the temple. His burst of inspired
song moved astonishment in Joseph and even in Mary.
Simeon’s last words, “the glory of Thy people Israel,”
might have encouraged unwarranted expectations in their
hearts, and the words of the text seem to be intended to
check these natural but undue expectations regarding the
effect of Christ’s Advent. The child of Mary is set “for
the fall and rising again “of many a human soul.
I. Christ’s coming was not to have a uniform effect upon
human souls. Christ by His coming into this world does
not bless everybody, though it is in His heart to do so.
Men can, if they like, reject Him, and in fact they do. The
spiritual world is not ruled mechanically. Men could not
regard Jesus with indifference, nor escape from some sort
of profound emotion at coming in contact with Him, but
the results were not uniform. They were for rising or
II. The falling of many in Israel is the first effect noted
by Simeon. Isaiah had said that the Lord would be a
“stone of stumbling,” and this was shown to be the case
again and again in Israel’s history. The fall which Christ
occasioned to the majority of Israel was not from the
religion of Moses—nor was it from morality—but it was
a falling away from the Christ, when He had presented
Himself to them.
III. Christ was also set for the rising of many in Israel.
This was His original purpose in coming among us,
which was only limited by the free but perverted will of
man. The gospel tells us of several for whose rising again
Christ was set. It was true of each disciple who persevered
—of Magdalene and of St. Paul. The words of Simeon
still have their power, and suggest a grave question for
every one. Christ is set now as of old, for the rise and
fall of many. His will is that all should rise. Do not
let us balk His gracious purpose. Let us cling rather
by faith, by love, by sincere repentance, to His pierced
hands, that we may have a part in the first, the moral
resurrection, and then by His grace in the second be-
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.