The Purpose of Life

Luke 2.34

Sermon by Dr Peter Masters

What is the purpose of your life? Is your objective earthly or eternal? Is it material or spiritual? Christ lived on earth according to a set plan to accomplish our reconciliation with God. Our response to His life and work determines whether we have a heavenly destiny or purpose.

‘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.’

Well, we’re thinking of Simeon and allowing his life and his words to be a challenge to us. My title is very simply, The Purpose of Life. Simeon, remarkable, he appears only here in this second chapter of Luke in all the scripture. And setting aside the various ideas about him, which come from different human traditions and confining ourselves only to the Bible, we don’t know very much about him at all. He would not appear to have been a priest or a Levite, but a layman. At least the language doesn’t clothe him with any dignity in temple or in his activity beyond that of a layman, a Jewish lay worshiper. Possibly an old man, but you can’t be sure. Some of the words just about suggest that, and some of his own words, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that. But maybe he was an older person. He utters words which are passed into the worship of Christian churches for generations.

All this took place, by the way, some 40 days after the birth of Christ. We’ve moved quickly in the Gospel of Luke from the actual day of the event. But here it is, verse 22 tells us so, and when the days of Mary’s purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. So the time of purification for a mother who’d given birth to a male child was 40 days. So it’s 40 days after the birth that they make that six-mile journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice. And in verse 24, to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. Well, the pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons was the optional sacrifice for people who were too poor to afford a lamb. And so Joseph and Mary offer the poor people’s sacrifice, a perfectly legitimate and honourable sacrifice.