Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Luke 2:36-40 NKJV
Anna was a devoted servant of God. Widowed early in life, Anna dedicated herself to fasting and praying in the temple. When Jesus was bought into the temple, her life of piety was interrupted. No longer were her religious actions on hope of the long-awaited Messiah. The Messiah was there, in the flesh, in the temple with her! Her hope was rewarded. God was praised. The presence of the Messiah was met with her gratitude to God. Like other true believers, she could not be silent about her Savior. The Good news had to be shared!
Throughout the Bible, women had a role in proclaiming the truth of God. God chose in the biblical narrative, to mention women as well as men who went in boldness to tell others about God and speak his word to others. These women are sometimes called “prophetesses”, a female version of a prophet.
Why is Luke including Anna here in his Gospel? Because his major theme is that God sent Jesus to earth that ALL might be saved.(Luke 2:10) In a culture that generally did not hold women in high regard, Luke wanted to show that God is different. He wants to be sure that the reader understands that women as well as men will be part of the Kingdom of God. In fact, Luke’s Gospel tells us more about women than any others. Later in the book of Acts, also written by Luke, we learn of other women who prophesy. (Acts 2:19)
Anna was a mighty woman of God. She was a watchful woman and used the spiritual disciplines of fasting and praying to keep her mind and heart focused on God. As a long-term widow, Anna could have wallowed in self-pity. But she did not. Instead, she devoted herself to pleasing God and waiting for him to fulfill his promises. Anna was a woman of faith and God rewarded her with the greatest gift of all.
Luke wants us to know that in the birth of Jesus, God is fulfilling his covenant promises of the Old Testament. This fills Anna with gratitude and joy so much that she must share the Good News with others.
In the midst of all your activities this Christmas season, find time to tell others about Jesus.
And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:38
Lord, Help me to spread the Good News about Jesus this Christmas season. Amen.