“And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:34-40)
With abundance of blessing there often comes a cross of pain and suffering. At the birth and circumcision of her Son, Jesus, Mary was a very young woman. Though she was very knowledgeable of the Word of the Lord, she was not so sophisticated in her faith to fully comprehend the impact her Son would have upon the world and in all future history. She was first of all amazed at the visitation of the great Angel Gabriel and the astonishing news he shared with her – that she would conceive and bear a son and would call His name Jesus. Her astonishment was multiplied in the knowledge that she had known no man (carnally).
How strange at Bethlehem of the worship and reverence shown her baby by the poor shepherds. Further, later the Magi would appear bearing precious gifts. Though Mary witnessed these events, she could not comprehend the depth of mystery these things represented. Now, at the circumcision, she hears the wonderful pronouncements of Simeon, a holy man of God of the first order. “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” How could a young lady understand such mysteries even the learned scribes and Jewish rulers could not grasp at the moment?
But Simeon made one remark in his prophecy that troubled Mary. She would not understand why until some thirty-three years later when she witnessed her dearly beloved son treated with inhumane cruelty, spat upon, beaten mercilessly, ridiculed, and nailed to a rugged cross wearing a crown of thorns. “(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” In the anguish of the moment at the foot of the cross, Simeon’s words took on a perfect meaning and understanding for Mary. Her mother’s heart was just as certainly pierced as that of her Son when she witnessed the lance penetrate the side and heart of our Lord. Mary’s heart was opened to greater understanding. Just as the heart of our Lord was pierced and opened for us, so had those souls and hearts of believers been opened to new meaning and understanding of the Law and Prophets. New Light was dispersed among the darkness of souls that suffered and languished in guilt and despondency.
When the penitent believer recalls the suffering on the cross of Christ, his anguish and remorse must approach that of Mary, especially when he considers it was his own sin, too, that compelled Christ to suffer. The very One who was without any blemish of sin, and within whose heart was the overflowing Fountain of Love and Mercy, suffers the pains of death that you and I justly deserve – and He does so we might be spared that death.
“We can in no wise live a perfectly sinless life as did Christ, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) But, being renewed in body and soul through the redemption of our Lord, our lives are changed in amazing ways. Sin no longer rules in our hearts for there can be no sinful desires in a heart in which the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ abides forever. Observe the saintly Anna; her soul was drawn to God in a constant devotion. “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Because of that devotion and state of heart, Anna was keenly aware of the fulfillment of the promises of God the Father in the coming of His only Begotten Son, Jesus, into the Temple: “And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Love unites us together under the banner and Ensign that forever leads and follows His people.