Luke 2:36-38 introduces us to Anna a minor character with a major influence. She was a prophetess, a spokesperson for God. I must confess I’m not too sure what this role involved. Typically the prophets were men, but here is a woman equipped by the Spirit of God to serve the people of God. There is no book of “Anna,” no record of her prophecies, yet Luke’s description of her involvement in the life of Christ has been preserved for our edification.
1) Her lineage – Genealogy is profoundly significant in Jewish history. Consider the lengthy family tree in First Chronicles or the family tree of Joseph (a Davidic lineage) portrayed in Matthew 1.
2) Her age – Age is relative isn’t it? She was very old. Some seniors I’ve met never seem to be old.
3) Her marital status – She was widowed after only seven years of marriage and now she was 84. If she had married in her teens (common in those days) she would have been a widow for close to sixty years. How had she coped with this providential burden placed on her by a sovereign God? Had she become “bitter” like Naomi (book of Ruth) who returned home as “Mara” bitterly disappointed in God’s plan for her life? How do prolonged life situations impact us? Some become “bitter,” others become “better.”
4) Her devotional status – This senior was serious about God. She never left the temple; she remained in God’s presence and filled her days with worship, fasting and prayer. What an example for us! How have you lived your life? I can think of many widows whose lives bear strong evidence of an experience of God’s grace. Their devotion to their Saviour overflows into a sweet aroma to those around them. They “smell” like Christ. Consider 2 Corinthians 2:15 “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
5) Her encounter with Jesus and his “parents” – As Anna encounters Jesus, as a child, in this God-arranged appointment look at her response. “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
What a way to spend your life! Thanking God and witnessing to others.
I think my Sunday School teachers and leaders embedded this pattern in early years in my life when they taught me to sing –
“Running over, running over,
my cup’s full and running over.
Since the Lord saved me,
I’m as happy as can be,
My cup’s full and running over.
Telling others, telling others,
My life’s work is telling others,
Since the Lord saved me,
I’m as busy as can be,
My life’s work is running over.”
I think had Anna known this little chorus she would have sung it many times. She certainly lived it!
(The painting above is entitled “Anna & Simeon In The Temple.”)