Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 15
Thesis: "Blessing" does not spare the "blessed" from the experience(s) of Death while the Plan is unfinished.
Introduction: In our study last week we looked into the fact that Joseph and Mary were both surprised at Simeon's words regarding Jesus. The only rationale for that surprise is the fact that neither Joseph nor Mary understood the intricacies of the implementation of the Plan of God as they relate to the centrality of Jesus and what that means to all men. It is this lack of understanding that keeps most human beings from being able to participate in the Life of God. For that reason, it is critical that we gird up our minds for the purpose of seeking true understanding because it is only out of true understanding that the experience of Life flows.
In the text before us this morning we are going to be faced, once again, with a certain crucial reality about the Plan of God that most folks simply do not want to face. That reality is this: not even "blessed moms" are going to escape the downside of the centrality of Jesus in the Plan. This point will become obvious: having to suffer greatly does not mean that God does not love, that God does not care, or that God is a Big Meanie. What it does mean is that the present conflict(s) of this world are the inevitable realities of the centrality of Jesus in a world that seeks to supplant that centrality with one of its own.
Life and Death are critical realities that stretch into forever without end. Thus, it is required of us that we give attention to the Word of God. So, let's do it...
August 14, 2005
- I. Luke's Continuing Record Regarding Simeon's Words.
- A. Are deliberately set in the context of the "surprise" of Joseph and Mary.
- B. Are deliberately set in the context of "love".
- 1. The reference to "blessing" surfaces this context.
- a. Without dispute, "blessing" is a highly positive word that evokes expectations of bliss that are rooted in love.
- 1) This issue of expectations is central to Luke's record of the "surprise" of Jesus' parents -- if their expectations had not been contradicted, they would not have been "surprised".
- 2) Love is the only rationale for blessedness.
- 3) It is impossible that "blessedness" does not lead to ecstasy.
- b. Without dispute, "blessedness" does not lead to only ecstasy.
- 1) There is not one example anywhere of a "blessed" person escaping the grief of Death -- in fact, the opposite is true: the more "blessed" a person is, the greater the experience of grief as evidenced in every record from Job to Jesus.
- 2) This is the "problem": blessing, in most peoples' minds, is supposed to make life easier, not harder.
- 3) It is this "problem" that challenges the underlying root: love.
- 2. The reference to "His mother" fixes this as a major issue of this context.
- a. The words "His mother" are clearly "focus-fixers": they are not "information-communicators"; but they are "thought-directors".
- b. The point of the "mother" thesis was shown in our last study to be a matter of "primary person of interest". She is God's "beloved" who "loves".
- c. The impact of the repetition is Simeon's clear and emphatic statement that even the "most blessed among all women, Mary, chosen of God to be mother of the Christ" was not going to be exempt by "blessedness" from the reality of the pains of Death that began to show up as soon as her pregnancy was revealed and did not stop until her beloved first born was brutally murdered for no good reason while she looked on.
- d. The point is inescapable: being "blessed", though it means being "loved", does not mean being "exempt from grief", but, rather, (a good case could be made that) it may actually mean being grieved the more.
- C. Are deliberately designed to "set up" genuine expectations.
- 1. First, "blessing" does mean something both positive and real and is given for a good reason.
- a. The "positive" issue is that "blessedness" absolutely means that the final end will prove beyond debate that the process was both necessary and worth it.
- b. The "real" issue is that there is tangible significance both for the present and the ultimate future in being "blessed".
- c. The "purpose" issue is that "blessing is given to fortify the soul against the inevitable grief of the interim between now and forever".
- 2. Second, Simeon establishes Jesus' "destiny" as immutably fixed.
- a. He has been "set" to be the catalyst of the final resolution.
- 1) There is a "final" fall and a "final" rising again.
- 2) There is also, however, an incipient process involved before the "finals" get here.
- 3) Jesus is the central figure, as the catalyst, that actually drives the process.
- a) That "process" has to do with the "revelation" of the thoughts of many hearts. It is this -- the thoughts of the heart -- that drives the entire conflict because it is in the heart that creatures decide whether they will relate to their Creator as legitimate creatures, or as rebels.
- b) Jesus, according to the Gospel, is going to force the unveiling of the realities that most desperately try to keep hidden. This "force" is the inevitable result of His active presence in His creation.
- c) The consequences of the "force" which Jesus applies are either "falling" or "rising again".
- b. He has been "set" to be the "sign".
- 1) The "sign" has already been given: Jesus is the Bread of Life, the "food of the sheep".
- 2) The "sign" makes the issues clear: the sheep will live by that Bread, or they will die without It.
- 3) The "sign" cannot be side-stepped: signs were given as inalterable, immutable, unretractable declarations by the Almighty that this is the way it is going to be.
- 3. Third, no one escapes the soul-piercing sword.
- a. The only way to escape the sword is to fear the blessedness and flee. [Thus Luke's very early thesis of "Stop being afraid".]
- b. Flight from the blessedness only leads to the greater sword. [This is like running from a yapping lap dog right into the powerful jaws of an angry lion.]
- II. The Point.
- A. Luke is attempting to reduce the "surprise" level for the people of God so as to head off the deeper grief of "grief without understanding".
- 1. There is no grief greater than hopeless grief.
- 2. Hope-filled grief is still grief...but it has remarkable qualities in it.
- B. Luke understands that the greatest danger in all the world is the danger of allowing the Tempter to persuade us that God is not Good and is Unworthy of our deepest loyalty on the basis of our own self-centeredness as it is confronted by grief.