One of the most interesting people in the story of Jesus’ early life is Anna, the prophetess who had spent her life in the temple after being widowed as a young woman. (In fact, the book of Luke notes that she had been married for 7 years and widowed for 84 years. Factoring in the average age of marriage in those days, it’s safe to presume that Anna was around 105 at the time she encountered the newborn Jesus!) Anna was committed to prayer and fasting, she was faithful to serve in the temple and she was an early witness to the Messiah. Remember, the Jews were not expecting the Messiah to be born into humble circumstances – they were expecting a military power who would overthrow Rome.
When His parents brought Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord, Anna was there. Anna, in her advanced age, was a prayer warrior. She was well-known in the temple because she never left it! Even though her story is brief, here are three powerful things she proved:
Age is just a number: Truly in God’s eyes age means nothing at all. Sarah was 90 when she gave birth. Noah was 600 when the global flood started. Moses was 80 before his ministry began. Elisha was dead and God used his bones to raise someone to life!! God uses the “least” and most overlooked faithful people to confound those who watch and smirk. Many died before seeing the Messiah (Hebrews 11:13), but Anna was there because God knew this: She would recognize Him and she would tell others. It doesn’t matter to the Lord what you look like or what your skills are, your intelligence, your connections, your charisma or anything else. Will you recognize God? Will you bear witness of this to everyone you know? Everyone Anna knew was in the temple and they were filled with religion and doubts, yet she proclaimed the unpopular “crazy” notion that the baby Jesus was the Messiah. It takes a bold person to speak the “crazy” truth about the Good News of Jesus Christ, but if you are able to recognize Jesus in every situation and willing to tell everyone about it – God knows and He’ll be able to use your witness to change the world!
A lifestyle of worship is a spiritual discipline that anyone can have and as you progress in your relationship with the Lord, He will show you more and more the closer you are to see it!
Less is More with God: So many people work in the Kingdom, plowing the ground in front of them and wonder if they’re of any effect. Pastors, evangelists, teachers, parents, friends and other ministers of the Gospel everywhere in the world are toiling and giving everything they have to advance the Kingdom of God and no one will ever know their names. This was Anna. The tribe she came from, Asher, was one of the “lost tribes” way in the north that Israel had lost track of over time, but God had been keeping track. In terms of culture, Anna was no one special, from nowhere special. Yet here she was, one of the first witnesses to the Messiah! One more important thing to note is that Anna didn’t run out and shout the Good News on the streets. She didn’t hop on a donkey and tell everyone in the next town over. Anna stayed where she was and bore witness to the people in her sphere of influence, those lost in their waiting, “all those who looked for the redemption of Jerusalem“- her peers, the ones who knew her, had seen her all these years, knew her testimony. They knew her life and so they listened to her words. What world-changing miracle that God is doing will you be a witness to?
Praise is the perfect response: When Anna realized that she was seeing the hand of God at work before her, that God had done what He said He’d do, that the miracle of the Messiah was present in her life, she worshipped! The account in Luke 2:25-38 says, “Coming at that moment she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for the redemption of Jerusalem.” 1) Anna had been watching and waiting on the Lord for His promise of a Messiah to be fulfilled. 2) Anna didn’t try to define how God would come through. 3) Anna worshipped the Lord as her first response to witnessing what God had done. In all things, during the waiting, during the wondering and during the witnessing of it all – praise God! A lifestyle of worship is a spiritual discipline that anyone can have and as you progress in your relationship with the Lord, He will show you more and more the closer you are to see it!
Thought for today
Paul wrote this: “For observe your calling, brothers. Among you, not many wise men according to the flesh, not many mighty men, and not many noble men were called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And God has chosen the base things of the world and things which are despised. Yes, and He chose things which did not exist to bring to nothing things that do, so that no flesh should boast in His presence. But because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, whom God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
Maybe no one will ever know what you’ve done, but God does. Maybe no one will ever know your name, but God does. Maybe you feel obscure or overlooked or of no consequence, skill or usefulness, but God says otherwise. He needs you. You are, like Anna, of tremendous value and use right where you are. People are watching. They know your life and your testimony. When you witness a move of God, tell everyone around you, in your sphere of influence! Anna’s faithfulness to the Lord proved that God sees those who labor in secret. It was evangelist Dwight L. Moody who once said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” Remember: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. For you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)