36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on him.
I work with special needs children. The children I serve most often fall on the autism spectrum. The ways their brains work are amazing and unique. If I were to give you a picture of children playing on the playground you would be able to instantly come up with a title for the overall theme of the picture. For example, recess or playground or school days would come to mind. My students however, would focus on one specific detail of the picture. They would only see the red ball, swings or the slide. They would not focus on the children or faces in the picture at all. They would find one detail and see nothing else of importance.
Today’s scripture has this same effect on my mind. I find myself jumping from one detail to the next, only to have ten more questions. Did Anna live in a spare room at the temple or did she return every day from her own home? What does it mean that she was a prophetess? Did this meeting provide comfort to Mary and Joseph? Who was Anna’s father that he was mentioned by name? What was her relationship with God like, to never lose faith in His promises? My thoughts start to spin in my head.
I had to quiet my questions and ask myself, what is this section really about? The answer is the same for all Scripture. The answer is Jesus, for all Scripture points to Jesus Christ and His Gospel of salvation. We can find this truth in vs. 38 in one word, redemption. To redeem something means to come and get that which belongs to you already. We belong to the Creator; Jesus came to get us from the clutches of this fallen world by offering himself on the cross. This section of Scripture is about our redemption when we call on His name.
Anna told everyone about Jesus and the redemption offered. You and I can do the same thing.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- I want to challenge you to come up with a working definition of redemption for yourself. This will help when you share your faith with others.
- Do you ever find your life overwhelmed with details? Find one place in your life to focus all on Jesus. A few examples would be quiet time in the morning, prayer walk at lunch, scripture memorization challenges with a partner. One small change to hear God’s Word can refocus your walk with Him.
Show children their birth announcement photo. Talk about how this photo was used to declare to friends and family that a new baby had been born. Share with the children the different congratulatory comments you remember from that time from friends and family. Explain that Anna was a woman who was very excited about seeing baby Jesus; point out verse 38 in today’s passage and discuss what different things she did because she was so excited. Comment that even today, we can be like Anna and thank God for sending Jesus, while at the same time share with others about Him. Provide a blank sheet of paper and crayons for your children. Have them create their own “birth announcement” for Jesus that you can share on social media or with family and friends as an example that we can share about the good news of Jesus with others.
Pray for churches in deaf communities around the world today. Pray for steadfastness, courage, dependence on God, and a burden for lost friends and neighbors for all believing deaf. The majority of the deaf around the world have never encountered the gospel or any Scripture, especially not in their heart sign language.