“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, ESV)
No doubt Mary was amazed because this man Simeon was unknown to them yet he confirmed the revelation that had been uttered to her by the angel Gabriel. She was amazed to hear this stranger speak to her of the wonders that God would do through her son. But the words also saddened and grieved her. The blessing Mary received in the honor of being chosen to bear the Messiah came with a bitter edge to it. She would feel joy yet it would give way to sorrow so unbearable that it would break her heart. And this suffering was for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind
Simeon prophesied that her child would cause division and dissent and that a sword would pierce her heart. Though she could not imagine what this would be we know that this is a reference to the crucifixion. This would the agent which would divide men for it would reveal their hearts. Jesus Himself is the dividing point of all men, the dividing point of all history. His life and death affect the lives of everyone who ever lived or would ever live right down to the present day and beyond. How one responds to Him, to His death on the cross determines where one will spend eternity. On one hand, the rich, the powerful, the proud, the egotistical and self-righteous will think they are fine without Him. They will fall because they would reject Him and His offer of salvation. The oppressed, the losers, the powerless, the humble, the repentant, they would all be raised up for they will accept Jesus with thanksgiving and gladness.