The Christian is born for the conflict!
Christians must prepare to suffer misunderstanding and persecution at home or wherever God may lead.
Christ told His disciples that “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” Although the Christian does not look for trouble, we can anticipate that opposition, persecution, and conflicts will be a part of our lives.
At the dedication of Jesus, Simeon the priest said: Behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Luke 2:34-35) Simeon’s words give insight into the birth of Christ and his ministry.
The Christ Child will be “set” for the “falling” and “rising again” of many in Israel. Simeon stated this in the present tense. Christ will be continually set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. As a result of his preaching and life, some will fall while others will rise. Judas will fall, but Peter will repent and rise. At the Cross, one thief will blaspheme while the other confesses Christ and enters paradise.
The Gospel functions as a magnet. Those who love the darkness and hate the light are repelled by the Gospel. Others, who are longing for a new life, a deeper life, are drawn to its power.
Simeon also stated that Christ was set… “for a sign which shall be spoken against.” This is also stated in the present tense, meaning it is a continuous action. Yes, it continues even to this very day and time. The name of Christ continues to be spoken against across our world of darkness.
Every time Christ preached, He compelled men to take a stand for Him or against Him. – Dr. O. T. Spence
Christ is the catalyst for the unveiling of the thoughts of the heart of men. For over 2,000 years this truth of the Gospel has not changed. Our preaching and witnessing are to be catalysts to stir the hearts and thoughts of people. Just as Simeon prophesied, it continues to draw some to the Savior, yet repel others to the point of hatred.
Christ Our Example Facing Opposition
After approximately one year of Christ’s public ministry, He returns to Nazareth. By this time His fame had already increased throughout the region. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. Luke 4:14
It was customary in the synagogue services for prominent visitors to be asked to read the Scripture and give comments on the reading. In each service, there would be a portion of the Law as well as the Prophets read. The portion of the Law was already read and presented.
At some point in the service, Christ was presented with the Prophets, providentially the Book of Isaiah. Christ took the roll and continued to “unroll” it until He came to the passage of Isaiah 61:1-2. It could have been the lesson already appointed for the day’s reading, or it may have been of Christ’s own choosing.
There are six characteristics to the passage in Isaiah 61:1-2a; The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me…
1. to preach the gospel to the poor;
2. he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
3. to preach deliverance to the captives,
4. and recovering of sight to the blind,
5. to set at liberty them that are bruised,
6. to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Although Verse 2 of Isaiah 61 continues, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; Christ stopped the reading (Luke 4:20) And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
This was the official proclamation by Christ that the Messiah had arrived and His ministry was underway. Luke 4:21; This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Although the words of Christ were gracious words, the truth of what he said was too hard for the listeners to bear.
Their prejudice against the Gentiles (Vv. 26,27) became the catalyst for their hatred. They were ready to kill Christ then and there.
Luke 4:28-29; And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
Providentially, Christ made His way through the crowd. It was not the time of His death to be fulfilled.
Our Savior faced misunderstanding and persecution all the way to the Cross. Should we anticipate a road different from His while claiming his namesake? May we remember that this world is not our home. We are strangers in a strange land and while we travel here, there will be opposition, persecution, and conflict. But His grace is sufficient to keep and to preserve us in His perfect will. Amen!