The Life of Anna
Luke 2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Jesus’ parents had brought him to the temple to be circumcised. It is there that two people are encountered, Simeon and Anna. The first is a man who speaks a word of blessing over the child. Next they encounter a woman, Anna whom we are told is also a prophet. Her words are not recorded but there is something of her description which becomes prophetic for those who will be touched by Christ.
Her encounter with with this baby, the Messiah, was life-changing for she had met the one who would redeem Israel. But there are other clues as to Hannah’s presence here in the text, clues which speak to us even today. She is the daughter of Phanuel. The name means “face of the Lord.” She and her father are from the tribe of Asher. This is a tribe which was celebrated for its beautiful women and considered fit to become the brides of high priests or kings for they were blessed with many children. And finally, Anna had fixed her abode in Jerusalem, worshiping God, fasting and praying day and night.
From Simeon we received words about the Messiah. From Anna we receive a which life becomes the prophetic voice, the acknowledgement of the deeds which are the result of the encounter with the one who brings redemption to his people.
Anna’s presence here in the text becomes a challenge to all of those who will encounter the Messiah. Her earthly father was named Phanuel, “the face of the Lord.” Our Father in heaven is the one who draws us toward him and desires that we would reflect his holy image to the world. In this momentary meeting with the Messiah there is a glimpse at what adoption really means. Suddenly his father becomes our father and there is the realization that we are all welcomed into God’s family.
Anna is also from the tribe of Asher and suddenly another metaphor is thrown our way. We are called to be the bride of Christ, beautifully adorned to love and to serve our bridegroom. Anna’s life was already filled with this activity as she had been preparing herself for years for his arrival. She had committed herself wholeheartedly to abiding in Jerusalem. We don’t have to physically go to Jerusalem these days to experience the presence of God but we do have to make time for God in our lives. The Holy Spirit comes and dwells in and among us but we have to take the time to abide in him — and he in me! Anna had learned this secret and it included times of prayer and fasting. These are spiritual disciplines which lead to a deeper walk with our Lord; practices which are to be a part of our routine as well.
Finally, after abiding and encountering the Messiah, this bride of Christ could not be silent. Her life had been transformed and she spent her time praising God and telling others the good news of salvation. The Messiah had come and redemption awaited his people. Anna’s life became consumed with living out in word and deed all that she had been created to be. It was in that encounter with Christ that she was made perfect — or, all things were brought to completion. Now her name, her tribe and her behaviors all made sense — in light of her meeting with the Messiah. She was the beautiful bride who would bring many children into the family. She had to go and share the good news!
Our encounters with Christ will change the way in which we view everything. Our lives will become ones of proclaiming his good news and living as reflections of his holiness as we seek his face. Just a brief encounter with a woman and her life becomes a roadmap for all that God intends for his people. May our encounter lead us to live like Anna.
Lord, thank you for your touch in my life. Amen.
If you would like to read more "Reflecting the Image" click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.