To Fall or Rise

Luke 2:34, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel…” (own Greek translation).

God, in His goodness and mercy, sent His only-begotten Son into the world on account of His promise made to Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to raise all of Israel from death in sin to life in Him through Christ (cf. Romans 6). But Christ also caused some in Israel to fall. As Paul says, Christ crucified is “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The Messiah was not whom the Jews expected Him to be, so they trip and fall when confronted with the Messiah. That a god would die for human beings is ridiculous to us Gentiles! Gods don’t die, let alone for humanity; they reign with an iron fist and a sword of justice! Whether Jew or Gentile, God is not who we expect Him to be. We say He is one way when He says He is another way. Seeking to be gods ourselves, we won’t let God be who He says He is. We won’t let God be God.

But I digress. What do we make of Simeon’s saying here? Simple: when people are confronted with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, some will rise in faith, and others will fall with hardened hearts. It is to answer His convicting question, “Who do you say that I am” (Matthew 16:15)? If it is the confession of St. Peter on whose faith the Church is built, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” we rise in faith. Anything other than this confession is a denial, falling into the abyss.

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