A Pilgrimage Fueled by Hope: Anna – Helper
By Sharon W. Betters
For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. -Proverbs 2:6 ESV
In keeping with the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph brought their little baby boy to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Like Anna, Simeon was “righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:25-26).
Remember, Mary is Luke’s source for this story. Later Luke says Mary stored up all these things in her heart, so details insignificant to others are really important to Mary. We need to pay attention to each one of those details, for they are packed with life-giving encouragement.
Imagine the great joy flowing out of Mary and Joseph as they stood before Simeon and presented their son. What they did not know was this was not just any priest. Just as Anna was led to Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, Simeon, at that very hour came in the Spirit into the temple (Luke 2:27). The Holy Spirit moved Simeon to go to the Temple at the very time Mary and Joseph arrived to present their son. Something supernatural was happening in this little circle of people.
Mary and Joseph watch and listen closely to the words of the priest Simeon:
Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel. -Luke 2:29-32 ESV
Were Mary and Joseph mystified or affirmed in their own beliefs about the uniqueness of their son? Simeon was not finished:
And His father and His mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. -Luke 2:33-35 ESV
I imagine Mary holding Jesus a little tighter, kissing his soft head and longing to erase those words of Simeon. How could her little baby make such an impact on Israel? How could the birth of this precious and much-loved child bring a sword that would pierce through her own soul? Mary wants us to know that at this very moment Anna came alongside the priest Simeon and brought the touch of a mother and sister to Mary’s fearful heart.
And coming up at that very hour Anna began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. -Luke 2:38 ESV
Anna, a life-giver, partners with Simeon the priest. She offers comfort and encouragement to Mary. Through the power of the Holy Spirit writing through Luke Mary wants readers to know she (Mary) knew Anna came up to them at that very hour, at just the right moment to assuage Mary’s fears. Anna’s presence was not a coincidence. Imagine our all-knowing God watching this scene play out, knowing the words of Simeon would strike fear into the heart of Mary, and sending Anna at just the right moment to step into this little circle with words of comfort and love. Anna confirms Simeon’s message, but her words soften the pain of Simeon’s declaration.
What equipped Anna for this moment of life-giving encouragement? Anna loved God’s Word and loved talking to her God. Her time with her God sensitized her to His voice and leading:
For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. -Proverbs 2:6
As a pastor, my husband Chuck often asked me to join him in a counseling session with a woman. He knew I would be more sensitive when she needed a softer touch or a clearer explanation of his counsel. If Chuck misunderstood her position, he could look to me to help him. No doubt it was Anna’s habit to partner with the priests during these momentous family occasions. Maybe she saw Mary’s face fall as Simeon warned her of the agony to come, and Anna knew this baby was the reason the Lord led her to step up at that very moment of need. Though Luke’s words about Anna are few, we can imagine the emotions and humanity embodied in his description of this poignant moment.
As you spend time reading the Word and talking to the Lord, ask the Holy Spirit to awaken your heart and mind to opportunities to offer the life-giving encouragement that comes from knowing Jesus.
Lord, we long to know You so intimately that we do not miss seeing Your sovereignty in the details of life. We don’t want to miss opportunities to offer the life-giving encouragement we experience from knowing Jesus. May Your Holy Spirit awaken us to the joy of knowing Your Word and to recognize opportunities to share the beauty of knowing Jesus as Savior.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a nonprofit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children, and fourteen grandchildren.
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