Well done, Nettie’s Book Club Bookworms! You made it to the final week of our Hidden Christmas book club study. This week we take a closer look at Simeon’s prophecy to Mary and Joseph in Chapter 7 and we wrap up with a look at what Christmas means about our Christian faith in Chapter 8. If you’re a bit behind in the book, I would highly recommend that you read these two chapters as they wrap up the treasure trove of wisdom that Tim Keller shares with us in this book.
During week 4 we will read Chapter 7 with Luke 2:33-35 and Chapter 8 with 1 John 1: 1-4.
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”Luke 2:33-35
During his life on earth Jesus Christ warned his disciples that he did not come to bring peace to this world, but to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34). He explained that following him would mean losing your own will for your life and taking up the identity of Christ (Matthew 10:39). From the beginning, we were warned that following Jesus meant we’ll experience conflict – both with others and within ourselves.
Jesus causes conflict among people
Simeon warned Mary and Joseph that Baby Jesus will grow up to cause the “falling and rising of many”. When Jesus is King of hearts he polarizes people (Matthew 10:35-38) because he claims full authority. As his followers begin to live honest, moral lives their choices expose the sin around them which causes conflict among non-followers. Tim Keller uses the examples of corrupt societies or organizations where Christians are reprimanded for exposing lies and backhand dealings. Therefore, Christmas means that “if you live like Jesus, there won’t be room for you in many inns” (Page 86).
In the same way that the early Christians were a threat to the social order in polytheist Rome in ancient times, we are also seen as a threat in our highly secular society. Jesus’s teachings threaten those who want to do as they please and those who want to be their own saviours. When we live by these Biblical principles we will experience conflict and be unwelcome in many circles.
Jesus causes conflict within people
A sword will pierce through your own soul also.Luke 2:35
Mary had one of the most devastating parenting journeys as the mother of Jesus. She watched her son die a cruel and unjust death on the cross (John 19:20). While Jesus was teaching she could not always understand what and why he was teaching and wanted to stop him. In turn, Jesus reprimanded her and his brothers for their confusion. Similarly, a sword must pass through our soul if we love Jesus Christ.
If we want to surrender our whole selves to him we will experience conflict. We will sometimes fight with Christ because we cannot see our lives from his perspective. We will struggle to the end but will find humility and satisfaction in him on this journey. “True Christianity is a fight” (J.C. Ryle). We constantly fight our sins and weaknesses. We have to overcome our innate desire for self-righteousness and self-governance.
“God’s peace comes after the inner conflict entailed by submission.”Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas
This painful struggle will result in ultimate joy and peace because Jesus Christ went under the sword on the cross (Genesis 3:24 and Romans 6:23). When our own cross feels unbearable, we should examine our hearts with the question “What if Mary or Jesus said: I don’t want a sword to my soul.”
Where would we be?
Here is the final instalment of Freechurch.net’s sermon on Hidden Christmas:
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of the books studied by Nettie’s Book Club. I am not profiting from the sale of these books. I will carefully select books that have had a significant impact on my faith. My goal is simply to share the wisdom in these books with others so we can assess and apply the wisdom of these authors to grow in understanding of our faith together.