What Does Anna the Prophetess Show Us about Jesus?
- Emma Danzey Contributing Writer
- Updated Dec 22, 2021
As I was reading through the Christmas story this morning, I was going over the portion of Scripture which covers the prophet Simeon and prophetess Anna meeting baby Jesus. Tucked away in Scripture we see two unique characters arise. One was a man, one was a woman. One was a priest, one was a widow. Both had the blessing of seeing Jesus in their old age. What particularly struck me were the details given about Anna, and what this tells us about Jesus. Today we are going to study the Scriptures and learn about the intentional background provided for Anna.
After Simeon provides an incredible prophecy about the life and death of Jesus (Luke 2:28-35), we see a miraculous moment. A widow for decades, potentially 84 years, approaches the Savior of the world. A woman, who already would have been considered lesser than in society, was chosen by God to reveal Himself in human form. A woman who lost her husband after 7 years of marriage early on, and experienced levels of grief which many of us have never known, was pursued. The Light of the World showed Himself to renew her joy.
Anna from Asher
Luke 2:36 says, “There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage.”
Anna was mentioned as being from the tribe of Asher. This spoke to me thinking about the definition of the name Asher. Behind the Name shares that Asher means “happy, blessed.” Anna came from the tribe of happy and blessed. Although from a worldly perspective we see Anna as a widowed woman, childless and elderly, through the sense of Christ, Anna was happy in Him and blessed by Him. She was fulfilled in the Lord and she sought Him daily in the temple. This woman knew him intimately and personally.
This causes me to ponder how Anna did not have to question if Jesus was Lord. She saw Him and knew He was the Messiah. When we know God and spend time with Him, we can confidently recognize His working in our lives. We can joyfully praise Him and celebrate Him moving. If we neglect God, then when He is working around us, we might very well miss Him. Anna was not going to fail to see the One who she met with every day.
Ellen Mady from Aleteia shares that this detail is also significant because the tribe of Asher was in the northern kingdom, which was defeated by the Assyrians in 8 BC. There was a great divide between Judah and Benjamin with the other tribes. Levi did not have land because they were the priesthood. Ellen mentions that Simeon would have likely been in Benjamin or Levi. She says, “The prophet Simeon is believed to have been either one of the temple priests, and therefore from the tribe of Levi, or Simeon ben Hillel, son of Hillel the Elder, from the tribe of Benjamin.” Ellen shares that this could be a moment representing wholeness for the Jewish people. No matter which tribe people were from, Jesus had come to be their Prince of peace and Lord of lords.
Anna Knew God
Notice there is no mention of her having children. At that time, a woman’s identity was wrapped up in producing an heir to the family name. Instead of choosing to stay in a place of self-pity and bitterness about her situation, Anna chose to worship. Anna chose to fast. Anna chose to daily seek God in His temple. In fact, the Bible uses the words, “She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers” (Luke 2:37b).
I love the purposeful timing of Anna. To anyone it may have seemed a coincidence, “There was also a prophetess.” However, this was the sovereign placement of Anna right where God intended to meet her. Just as He had met her night and day, just as He heard her prayers and saw her fasting, He was now going to reveal Himself in the flesh to her. Anna was never alone in these many years, but God was with her. Emmanuel was just as much Emmanuel before He came down, but at His appointed time, Jesus came and showed Anna that He was God with her. This promise is for us as well today.
Commentators from Bible Hub share that Joseph and Mary would have brought Jesus for his dedication in the temple after 40 days of life. This means that Jesus would have been a little over a month old. Think about this tiny baby being brought to the temple just like any other newborn, and Joseph and Mary knowing Who they were caring for as they went. Imagine the pure joy of these new parents as they experienced yet again confirmations of the King of kings in their household. God used Simeon and Anna as affirming voices over the life and future of Jesus.
Thanksgiving and Sharing
Anna’s response to seeing Jesus is priceless. “At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38).
Anna came up and thanked God. We do not know many other details of what happened, but I imagine it was more than just the words, “Thank you.” I envision a woman of many years crying out to God with thanksgiving and praising Him, perhaps with tears in her eyes and hands lifted. Her response to seeing Jesus was telling everyone about Him.
When we have encountered Jesus Christ, do we have this same response of thanksgiving and sharing? If not, how can we daily incorporate this into our rhythms of life?
Jesus Pursues the Elderly
One lesson from the life of Anna and Simeon is that Jesus came to the elderly. Jesus is not partial to the young; He is still pursuing people of all ages. Maybe you feel that you are too far gone or your life was not well-spent. God is the Redeemer and He came to meet those who are elderly, valuing them with equal pursuit. Jesus is pursuing you right now, no matter what age. He is extending His salvation to you. Just like Anna, we can embrace Him and accept His sacrifice for us to live with Him forever. No sin is greater than our Savior.
As we look at the small glimpse we get into the life of Prophetess Anna, we see a life of brokenness redeemed by the Messiah. We see a woman who found great fulfillment and purpose in her identity of being His own. We see that Jesus came for all people. We learn of the call to be thankful of His sacrifice and tell others of this good news as well. We might feel like our lives are minute in the grand scheme of the world, however Jesus took the time to visit an elderly widow who had been seeking Him for many years. We are all valuable and purposeful in Christ Jesus.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/gpointstudis
Emma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew and mom to Graham. Emma serves alongside her husband in ministry, she focuses most of her time in the home, but loves to provide articles on the Bible, life questions, and Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 on Crosswalk in 2021. Most recently, Emma released Treasures for Tots, (Scripture memory songs) for young children. During her ministry career, Emma has released Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness, two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, and ran the Refined Magazine. You can view her articles on her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Instagram @Emmadanzey.
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