And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel…
"That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
I. Yes, THAT IS THE CLAIM WHICH CHRIST HAS UPON US — THAT HE KNOWS US. AS it is said, "He knew what was in man;" and He does not merely know our faces and our forms, but our true selves. You know nothing of any science or thing until you know its hidden inner secret. How different it is to know about a thing and to know what is within a thing. Superficial knowledge is that of the surface, of the skin; and profound knowledge is that which is organic and descends to the foundation. You know every man has within him an amazing secret realm of thought and emotion; I may go a step further and say, it is unknown to himself, and most men never have more than very occasional glimpses into the "within the veil" of their own minds; most men are not at home within themselves; they do not dwell there. Even those men who do suppose that they are well acquainted with their own minds, often deceive themselves.
II. MAN HAS A GREAT HIDDEN NATURE, WAITING FOR REVEALMENT AND DEVELOPMENT. But how secret. This it is which makes the relationship of the pastor and the teacher frequently so sacred; it is felt that he can fathom the great deep of the human soul. You may illustrate it from so poor a piece of machinery as a watch; a watchmaker descends into the mystery; he knows it; and if he professes to know and does not, great mischiefs and mistakes result. Or, look at the human body and its diseases. I had a friend who was ill; he had three doctors who attended him; they gave him up; they looked at symptoms and phenomena; they were ignorant of the law; another came, touched the mainspring and restored him to health. Look I and here the image is more pertinent; look at the schoolmaster and educator, the teacher, the boy. I knew a minister in his early childhood; he was a very wild, a strong-willed boy: his parents punished him severely, again and again — they were pious people; at last they tried another method, they took him downstairs, after they had closed the shop at night, and they knelt down on either side of him, and they prayed, they both prayed for him, and they wept. "Oh!" said he to me, "I could not stand that, I tried, and I prayed, and they conquered." He is an eminent minister now. They had touched the mainspring; there is a mainspring in all of us, and we bless the man who reveals it to us; he who can touch it, rules us — be he general, poet, statesman, or preacher.
III. Yes; this is Christ's claim upon us; He knows us; HE IS THE TRUE REVEALER OF THE HIDDEN NATURE OF MAN. "He therefore taught as one having authority, and not as the Scribes." And hence the word of the prophecy of Simeon, which I have read as a text, is to be taken by the side of His precious word. Christ is "a light" — "a light," says Simeon, "to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of Thy people Israel." "That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." What do we mean by light, but that which makes manifest the interior chambers of our nature? Yes! to know man is the great indispensable of all teaching. Rare knowledge and wonderful!
IV. Yes, AND KNOWLEDGE OF HUMAN NATURE IS ESSENTIAL TO ALL TEACHING. You see the painter! he will tell you that knowledge of anatomy is essential to success; he needs the knowledge of muscular action, to give life to his picture — a knowledge of internal action to external development. Thus you see in Christ knowledge of humanity. His whole teaching reveals adaptation, fitness to complete imperfect man! Hence, because of Christ's transcendental knowledge, Christianity cannot be realized on earth. It is always over and beyond man. But a terrible thing it is to be with one who entirely knows us, and reads us through and through like a book — by observation, like Foster — by intuition, like Shakespeare; but to many it is only moral anatomy or surgery. The greatest knowledge of man is by sympathy. And Christ knew the World of the Human Heart by sympathy. Have you not noticed that scarcely any mind can cross the broad disc of our Lord's even temporary association, without revealing, as it passes, its state? It seems as if any mind coming into the neighbourhood of His Divine character is compelled to yield itself up, not only to His perfect knowledge — but, in the memorable events of His life, is illustrated bow that which is done in secret is proclaimed on the house-tops. Amazing would seem the attraction of our Lord's character, by which He drew to Him most opposite beings. He held them by their affection to Him. He held them by their hostility to Him. He revealed their love, their hatred, and their fear. Christ's character was like that ancient mirror which, if held up before the face, did not reveal the face, but the thought.
V. THE TEACHING OF OUR LORD HAD THE SAME INFLUENCE AS HIS PERSONAL CHARACTER; it revealed the thoughts of the heart. All His parables removed the abstract ideas of the human soul into the region of home life. Thus Christ shows how He knows our inner nature, and speaks to the inner world of motive and imagination.
1. He knew. Mark, His knowledge was and is absolute. We speak of many, and say, "They know human nature by observation or by intuition." Properly, Christ's knowledge is neither the one nor the other; the first says, I know human nature because I look at it; the second says, I know human nature because I look at myself, and find myself related to it. Christ knew it because He made it.
2. Hence His authority over man. Man felt His knowledge.
3. He revealed our thoughts in His sympathy, he knew what was in man; hence His sympathy with men. Yes, His sympathy with man!
VII. Christ not only revealed the thoughts of many hearts by eliciting their peculiar moral character, but HE SPOKE TO THE UNIVERSAL HEART OF MAN IN ALL AGES, BOTH BY HIS NEEDS AND BY HIS WORDS; He transformed the great instincts of men in all ages into absolute revelations. Christianity has revealed and authenticated to men what had been for ages suspected, or hoped, or feared.
1. He saw human nature was dark. He came to enlighten it. "I am the light of the world."
2. He saw the hardness as well as the darkness of man. He came to soften the world's heart. "He knew what was in man."
3. He consecrated humanity. He revealed the holy destiny of man, for "He knew what was in man."
4. "That the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed." He came to sublime and to crown human nature, to reveal to man His brightest, boldest thought — Eternal life — Immortality.
(E. P. Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;