Reference: Luke 2:36-38.
Heart of the Story: An 84 year old widow, who lived in the Jerusalem Temple and in fact never left it, recognized the baby Jesus as the Messiah.
Back Story: In the New Testament, Luke wrote briefly about Anna. Anna was a prophetess from the tribe of Asher, which was allocated land in the far northwest corner of the Promised Land. She was the daughter of Penuel. Because Luke gave Anna’s father’s name, he must have had some standing in his tribe or in the nation. After she married (about age 15 years of age) Anna lived with her husband only seven year. Then he died. The Bible did not give Anna’s husband’s name so he was less well known than her father.
Story Line: When Luke introduced Anna she was about 84 years of age. Anna lived in the Woman’s Court of the Jerusalem temple where day and night she fasted and prayed. The Women’s Court was only about 200 square feet – can you imagine living in that small circumscribed space? Anna did that for over 60 years.
Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus to the Temple 40 days after his birth to consecrate their first born son to God. There, Anna saw the baby and knew immediately that he was the looked-for Christ child, the Messiah. Anna went up to the child and his parents and gave thanks to God for the baby. She spoke to all who would listen and who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel.
Pondering Relationships: The scant information combined with values of Israelites suggested that Anna did not have children. If she had children, probably she would have lived with one of them instead of living in the Temple. Likely Anna was very thin because she fasted so often. She might have had one or at the most two changes of clothing. She ate only what the cooks and servants of the Temple provided for her. Despite this privation, Anna was content. Further, she was overjoyed that God showed her the Messiah before her death.
When Anna spoke to the people around her about the newborn child, Luke does not say exactly what Anna said. She may have said something as simple as, “Here is the child that we have been looking for the last several millennia.” Can you imagine how excited she was that God rewarded her piety by allowing her to see the newborn Christ?
Reflection: God acknowledged Anna’s devout behavior by allowing her to live to an old age and see the Christ child. Are you living so that God can acknowledge your devout behavior?
Copyright January 15, 2017; Carolyn A. Roth
Please check my website, http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com for more stories about Bible characters.