The Joy of Faith: a Motherly Example in Anna

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke2:36-38)

The glorious plan of redemption was told from the prophets and prophetesses of old. Moses spoke hope to God’s people at the very account of the fall in Genesis by stating that there would come a seed from the woman whose heel would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15). Anna was a woman of God who was enthusiastically expecting the serpent-crusher. She was called a prophetess not because she predicted the future or claimed to hear the voice in her head, but because she taught God’s Word.[1] She was a diligent student of Scripture in the temple for the rest of her widowed life, which made her privy to the predictions of the Messiah and being able to recognize His birth. Rather than follow after the enticements of the sneaky snake or the things the world offered, this lady was intent on the purpose to which God called her. In verse 37, God reveals to us that this lady was committed to God’s service and prayer continually. “Luke depicts Anna as swelling in an ivory tower of the spirit, aloof from worldly preoccupations. She lived on a plane apart from material things and ‘served God with fasting and prayers night and day.’”[2]

God had so captivated Anna’s affections that she didn’t look to anything or anyone else for fulfillment. The world around this woman had not distracted her from waiting for Jesus’ coming. And her affirmation came the happy day when she got to personally see Christ face to face though in only His infancy. What joy filled Anna’s heart than to get to thank God for a brief little glimpse into His redemptive plan for all of humanity! 

I think it was because she was so preoccupied with God’s Word and will that she couldn’t help by the Spirit to be filled with joy at what she saw before her eyes—God in a human form sent to savior His people from their sin and all of the effects of the fall. Anna didn’t become discontent that in her old age, she probably wouldn’t see Jesus grow up and perform miracles. She was very old and likely didn’t live much longer after seeing baby Jesus. However, those last years of her life were well spend praising and thanking God for His goodness and telling everyone that Messiah had come! “The day of His dedication was probably her one and only glimpse of Him. But it was enough for her. She literally could not stop talking about Him. And that is the most endearing part of this wonderful woman’s extraordinary legacy.”[3]  (MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women, 140). 

Anna probably never had physical children but she became a mother to all of us women who would listen and follow her example of persevering faith that yields lasting joy and sees God at work in His redemptive plan in History. Anna’s reward for her life of purity and devotion was to see God, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). This is the blessing I pray for all the women reading this short devotion, and a happy Mother’s Day to all!

  [1] MacArthur, John.  The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 1-5. (Chicago: Moody Press, 2009), 185.

[2] Deen, Edith.  All the Women of the Bible

(Edison: Castle Books, 1955), 173. 

[3] MacArthur, John.  Twelve Extraordinary Women, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 140.