“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed– and a sword will pierce even your own soul– to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35 [NASB]
Reading through Luke this week, verse 35 of chapter 2 (above) struck me. In the past I’ve been so focused on the prophecy regarding Christ that I more or less read past what was spoken to Mary. This time, however, as I read “a sword shall pierce even your own soul,” I intimately knew and felt the deep searing pain of a mother bearing the death of her beloved child.
Precious Mary, she who found favor with God (Luke 1:30), and had responded in complete humble surrender to Him, saying of herself, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Her favor with God, her humble surrender, and her obedience to Him led directly to her soul being pierced by a sword.
The day before my child was killed I sat wrestling in prayer with the choice to place her on that bus the next day. With palms lifted open to the heavens I prayerfully entrusted her to God, praying Psalm 91 over her. I have struggled in the months since Sarah left with jealously resenting the account of Abraham and Isaac. I, too, placed my child on the altar, but He did not stay the knife. Though I rejoice in the confidence that my child yet lives, I continually bear the soul piercing sorrow of her physical death on the altar of that bus.
My sword pierced soul finds comfort and courage in the example of precious Mary. I long to have her humble servant’s heart to respond to each and every life circumstance in full surrender, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” I long to have a gentle and quiet spirit like that of Mary who “treasured” the prophecies and truths of Christ, “pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). And I long to walk as righteously and faithfully as Mary in the painful absence of her child. With a sword pierced soul she was found of one mind with the disciples continually devoting herself to prayer (Acts 1:14).
I praise God for the death of Mary’s child, and more so for the resurrection of Mary’s child. That which caused the sword piercing pain of Mary’s soul is also that which He used to shine His light “upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79). Praise God that through the atoning work of Christ Jesus we no longer sit hopelessly in the shadow of death.
We who believe are tenderly cared for by The Good Shepherd who, through His death, burial, and resurrection has enabled us to confidently say, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
We are pilgrims on a journey and, though part of our journey may be through the valley of the shadow of soul piercing death, we will emerge “in just a little while” to the dawning of the Bright Morning Star who will forever cast out death and its shadow (Heb. 10:37; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 22:16).
Until that glorious day, We, too, can faithfully journey like Mary, praising Him all along the way for He has promised to be with us, and to faithfully “guide our feet into the way of peace” with His rod and His staff, “for He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). And He will strengthen us to walk in that peace “with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience” enabling us to “joyously give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Col. 1:11-12).
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, [even] Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom [be] the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21 [NASB]
Come, Lord Jesus.