Summary: In this lesson we analyze the testimony of Anna in order to see how God works in the life of a dedicated follower of God.
We are studying the life of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke in a sermon series I am calling, “To Seek and To Save the Lost.”
Luke described the birth of Jesus, which took place in a stable in Bethlehem (2:1-7). Then he told us about the shepherds visiting Jesus on the night of his birth (2:8-20).
Joseph and Mary continued to stay in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. Eight days after his birth, Jesus was circumcised and named “Jesus,” in accordance with the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb (2:21). Forty days after his birth, Mary, along with Joseph and Jesus, went to the temple for her purification and Jesus’ presentation to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord (2:22-24).
While they were in the temple precincts, Joseph and Mary and Jesus met two very godly people who gave an astounding testimony regarding Jesus. Last time we examined Simeon’s testimony, and today we will examine the testimony of Anna.
Let’s read about the testimony of Anna in Luke 2:36-38:
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. (Luke 2:36-38)
One of the great missionaries of the 19th century was David Livingstone. He spent several decades in south and central Africa. Although he is known as a great explorer, and was the first known white person to travel across Africa, he was also a dedicated medical missionary and slave abolitionist.
David Livingstone died in present-day Zambia on May 1, 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery. He took his final breaths while kneeling in prayer at his bedside. Britain wanted the body to give it a proper burial, but the African tribe, who loved Livingstone dearly, would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut Livingstone’s heart out and put a note on the body that said, “You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!” Livingstone’s heart was buried under an Mvula tree near the spot where he died, which is now the site of the Livingstone Memorial. His embalmed body together with his journal was carried over a thousand miles to the coast, where it is was returned to Britain for burial at Westminster Abbey.
You may recall the story of when Henry Morton Stanley was sent by the New York Herald to find Livingstone. He eventually did find him, and we remember the memorable greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” By that time Livingstone had spent thirty years in Africa, and Stanley wanted Livingstone to go to England with him. But Livingstone refused to go.
Two days later Livingstone wrote in his diary: “March 19, my birthday. My Jesus, my King, my Life, my all, I again dedicate my whole self to Thee. Accept me, and grant, O gracious Father, that ere the year is gone I may finish my work. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.” It was a year later that his servants found him dead on his knees.
On every page of Bible and church history we read about remarkably dedicated followers of God. One such dedicated follower of God is Anna. Luke wrote about her when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple for Mary’s purification and Jesus’ presentation to the Lord.
Last time I mentioned that Luke did a masterful job of presenting many eyewitnesses who testified about Jesus so that the truth may be established. Luke wanted his readers—and us—to learn about Jesus’ true identity and mission. And so he introduced two witnesses—Simeon and Anna—who both testified to the true identity and mission of Jesus.
Now, the evidence of two witnesses was very important in the Bible. Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” In that culture a person could not be convicted of a crime on the basis of the testimony of only one person. There had to be at least two witnesses in order to establish a charge.