Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Persistence of the Prophetess



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 (Luke 2:36-38).

One of the greatest blessings in this gospel is the presentation of Anna the prophetess’ encounter with the Christ Child at His dedication. The temple was a crowded and noisy place, yet the Holy Spirit directed Luke’s attention to this divine meeting between the Son of God and the old widow, and He inspired the Evangelist to record some very precious detail for earnest truth seekers here. Anna is identified as a prophetess and our Teacher reveals three precious virtues in His description of her encounter with Jesus that are worthy of our imitation. Diligent disciples will find faith maturing truth in this reflection on the persistence of the prophetess

Anna was persistent in waiting through the years. The Spirit moved Luke to record that Anna was“advanced in years”, had been married “seven years”, and had been “a widow until she was eighty-four”. Anna’s life is a clear foreshadow of the Church, the Bride of Christ… “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Like Anna with her husband, true believers have experienced a brief time of fellowship with Christ here on earth… “Jesus then said, ‘I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me’” (John 7:33). Like Anna, we are presently living as a widow since Christ has returned to Heaven for a time… “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Like Anna, true believers wait earnestly to be reunited with Christ… “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7). Are you imitating the persistence of Anna by seeing through the trials and circumstances of this temporal life and focusing on the soon return of Christ?

Anna was persistent in worshipping in the temple. The Teacher included a definition of worship here. He moved Luke to note that Anna worshipped “with fasting and prayer night and day”. Real worship is an around-the-clock lifestyle of fasting, or renouncing of the world’s distraction and temptation… “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Diligent disciples increasingly replace love for the world with love for God… “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Like Anna, maturing believers develop a lifestyle of prayer, learning to pray in the Spirit… “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18) and praying at all times… “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Are you imitating the persistence of Anna by developing an intimate and growing prayer life with Christ?

Anna was persistent in witnessing about Christ. The Paraklete wants us to note Anna’s powerful reaction to the Spirit’s clear revelation of the identity of the Christ Child. Upon finally encountering the One she so desperately longed for, she was so excited that she could not contain her joy and her heart erupted with “thanks to God” while her lips began “to speak of him” to others who were seeking the Christ. Evidence that we are truly born again children of God is a genuine excitement and joy that we cannot keep to ourselves. The Spirit leads true disciples to those He has been drawing to Christ so we might speak to them about Him… “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Are you imitating the persistence of Anna by seeking and obeying every opportunity to speak of Christ?

As we grow up into Christ we wait, worship, and witness more like Anna, as we imitate…

The Persistence of the Prophetess.

By Pastor Bob Barber