It still amazes me that when Jesus was born, so few people in Israel recognized the birth of their Messiah. After all, Messianic expectation was running at an all time high. Last week while studying Eve we saw the first time that our Savior was promised in Genesis 3:15. They were so eager for the fulfillment of prophecy they even wondered if John was the promised, long-awaited Savior when he began his ministry. (Luke 3:15)
So while virtually all faithful believers were eagerly and expectantly awaiting the Messiah and looking diligently for Him, the irony would unfold that so few recognized Him. He just didn’t meet any of their expectations.
The only people in Israel who did recognize Him at His birth?
The humble, seemingly ordinary people.
Just like Anna.
Luke retells the whole story from the beginning from various witnesses, with Anna being the last. Her entire story in Scripture is found in just 3 verses, then she’s never mentioned again. But what happened in those 3 verses was enough to leave her mark as one of the most extraordinary women in the Word.
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. -Luke 2:36-38
In the exact moment Simeon picks up baby Jesus, the aged prophetess Anna appears in the story. What must have seemed like any other day in the temple, fasting and praying culminated in a moment she had put all her hopes and dreams in. Anna knew the Old Testament promises and knew that any hope of deliverance from sin would come from one place and only one place. In the middle of that seemingly normal day in the temple she beheld him. HIM!! The Messiah she longed and prayed and fasted for!
This encounter, getting to be one of the few key witnesses to this miracle changed the course of Anna’s life. She became one of the first and boldest witnesses of Jesus. She literally could not stop talking about Him.
This same woman, who had single-mindedly talked to God through prayer and fasting for more than 60 years, suddenly became best known for talking to people about God. The switch flipped after just one encounter. One miraculous opportunity to meet the Messiah. It was likely not even a long encounter. After all, this was most likely the only time on earth she got a glimpse of Him, since she was very old. But 1 time was all she needed.
I want that.
To be known as someone who literally could not stop talking about Jesus.
Three short verses is all we have of her. We meet her, we learn of her extreme devotion to her God through prayer and fasting, her long awaited moment with the promised Messiah. It’s an incredible story in an incredibly short amount of text. What made it what it was? An encounter with Jesus.
I’m not sure where you’re at in life right now. Maybe you’re in a storm and desperately needing a glimpse of the Savior. Maybe you’ve spent what feels like your own kind of 60 years waiting for God to move in a situation. If so, I’m urging you–keep on. Keep on seeking Him. Eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, your only hope. Anna did nothing but seek Him continually in the temple for 60 years. One moment, no matter how brief, so far outweighed her 60 years of longing that she couldn’t stop talking about Jesus if she tried.
And if you’ve had an encounter with Jesus? You better speak it sister! Who cares if they think you’re crazy. Who cares if they think you’re obsessed. If Jesus has met you in your midst, open your mouth and speak it-and don’t stop. On the days you don’t feel like it? Ask Him for it. For a fresh outpour of remembrance of His goodness on your life so overwhelming that you couldn’t keep it inside if you tried.
My deepest desire today? To hear a holy roar of the chatter of the grace of God on our lives begin. A low rumble roll of praise and glory all pointing back to a Savior that has been nothing but lavish with us.
Just like Anna.