When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” –Luke 2:22-35
There’s one more story about baby Jesus that we have to look at together, and this one is just a little bit scary. It’s not that the story itself is scary—I mean, after all, Jesus is just a baby, and how scary can a baby really be? Rather, it’s something that’s said about Jesus in the story—something that, if it’s really true, should make us a little nervous about this baby.
When Jesus was just a baby, Mary and Joseph brought him on his first trip to the temple in Jerusalem. While they were there, they met an old man named Simeon, who was waiting there to see the Messiah, God’s chosen King. When he saw baby Jesus, the Holy Spirit whispered to his heart, “Here’s the King!” Simeon was so happy that he had lived to see the day when God’s salvation finally arrived. He praised God for letting him see the promised Savior, and then he turned to Mary.
“This baby,” he said to Mary, “will be like a fork in the road to everyone who meets him; they will go one way or the other. No one will be able to stay on the fence about him; they will either follow him, or they will fall away from him. He will make everyone choose sides.”
If you stop and think about it for a minute, that’s kind of a scary thing to say about this Savior. Sometimes we like to think of Jesus as so gentle and kind that nothing bad could ever happen because of him. But Simeon said that there was something about Jesus that would make everyone choose sides, and many people would choose the wrong side. Some people would meet Jesus and love him. Others would meet Jesus and hate him. But nobody could sit on the fence and just be like, “Oh, Jesus, he’s okay I guess.”
What makes this story kind of scary is that that’s exactly what a lot of people try to do today. They try to say, “Oh Jesus, he’s cool. I’ll sing songs on Sunday, and I’ll learn about him in chapel or whatever, but he’s not that big of a deal to me. He’s okay I guess. But I really love other stuff.”
But what Simeon said is still true: you can’t stay on the fence about Jesus. Either you believe he really is the King, he really is the Savior, he really did conquer death, and that changes everything… or he’s a nobody, and you should stop paying attention. There isn’t any middle ground that makes sense. Either he’s the King, or he’s a clown. Either he’s the Way, the Truth, and the Life… or he’s a liar and a loser.
So you can either fall down and worship him, or walk away. You can believe him, or not. You can give him your heart and your life and follow him forever, or you can throw him out and go on with your life. But the one thing you can’t do is have it both ways: you can’t sorta like Jesus, but not really be into following him. He didn’t leave that option open. You’ve got to get off the fence.