Luke 2.34This is from the Douay–Rheims translation. Most translations have "a sign that will be opposed" or "a sign that will be spoken against."
And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted...
The word "sign" here is the Greek word σημεῖον (sémeion). Sémeion occurs 77 times in the NT and it has a few different meanings. But its basic meaning is that which makes something distinctive, salient, noteworthy or different. This could be a token or a mark that sets a person apart from others. Circumcision, for example, is called a "sign" (Romans 4.11). Signs can also be portentous events. Signs are those events that suggest that something is coming down road, the first rumblings of thunder, for good or ill. Thus we speak of "signs of the times":
Matthew 16.1-3Because sémeion refers to events or things of a distinctive or noteworthy nature sémeion is also the word that gets translated as "miracle" or "miraculous sign" in the gospels.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign (σημεῖον) from heaven.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs (σημεῖα) of the times."
The observation I'd like to make with all this is that "miracle" isn't a biblical word. The gospel writers use other words like sémeion and we, the English reader, describe these signs as "miracles." But that shifts the frame a bit. The word "miracle" shifts the focus to causality. To be sure, Jesus is described as doing things that defy the normal laws of cause and effect. But the "miracles" are, fundamentally, signs. The actions of Jesus are portents. The signs are pointing and gesturing toward something.
Something was happening in Jesus that was noteworthy, distinctive and set apart from the normal manner of the world. Jesus was a portent, an omen. A warning even. Jesus was a sémeion. Jesus was a sign, a wonder, a miracle.
A sign of what?
A sign, according to Simeon, that would be opposed, resisted and spoken against. A sign of contradiction.
In Mark 8 the religious authorities ask for a miraculous sémeion, a "sign from heaven." Jesus says they ain't gonna get one. Not, at any rate, the sort of sign they were hoping for. Because there is a sign standing right in front of them. They just can't see it, see him. Instead, they will contradict, fulfilling the oracle of Simeon. As Jesus goes on to describe in Mark 8:
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed...But there is more. Jesus goes on.
Just as Simeon foretold the future of Jesus, Jesus now foretells the future of his followers:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."Like Jesus, we are to become signs of contradiction. We are to become tokens, portents and omens that speak, enact and dramatize the contradiction with this "present evil age."
Like Jesus, we are to become signs.
We are to become...miracles.