Summary: Anna was a woman of devout faith. The coming of the messiah brought great hope. This year we need that hope more than ever
If you have followed us over the last few months, you know that we are deep into the study of the Gospel of Luke. So on this Christmas eve, I wanted to take a moment and bring a concluding thought to Luke’s Birth Narrative in his Gospel. It is here we find a woman with a remarkable testimony that has something to say to us today as we celebrate Christmas in 2020.
The essence of Luke’s Gospel approaches the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as a collection of eye witness testimony. His purpose is to provide credibility to the Gospel and “that you may know the truth,” as he writes in his opening lines. Truth is something that is difficult to find in our day. It is considered subjective and relative in our post-modern world, which leaves us in a difficult spot.
So when we experience the level and number of events that we witnessed this past year, it leaves us to ask the question, “What is going on?” A few weeks ago, I sought to expose what is going on prophetically. Like the days of the first arrival of Christ, God is moving world powers and geopolitical forces to see his will and his redemptive plan fulfilled. Today we have front row seats to God’s prophetic plan unfold like never before in history. I want to encourage you to join us on Sundays to learn more and in a few weeks, we’re starting weekly prophesy updates on Wednesday nights.
Tonight is Christmas Eve and I know you are anxious to connect with other festivities and parents have some upcoming tasks. So I want to only briefly connect you to one such witness Luke includes in his birth narrative, a prophetess named Anna. To give you some context, I’m going to back up a little in Scripture about her significance:
Luke 2:25–38 ESV
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 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. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 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 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 36 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, 37 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. 38 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.
I. A Remnant of Believers
Anna is found nowhere else in the New Testament. She is virtually an unknown. All that we know about her is found right here in the 3 verse of Luke’s gospel. She was what I would call a remnant of true believers in Israel. Most of Israel was secularized by the Roman world and their attention was not on things of God or the plans of God. That is why nearly all of Israel completely missed the coming of the promised messiah and it is why the vast majority of the world today, including many who come to churches will be unprepared for his return.
New Testament Scholar, David Gooding said this about Israel and the coming of Jesus, “Israel had never been a nation marked by unqualified obedience, any more than others have had. When they came out of Egypt, singing their songs of redemption, no one had dreamed that hidden in their hearts of most of them lay as yet unformed thoughts of sheer rebellion again God, their redeemer. But the wilderness, by God’s deliberate intention, exposed them.”