33 His father and mother[b] were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed[c]— 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts[d] of many hearts may be revealed.”
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,[e] 37 and was a widow for eighty-four years.[f] She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment,[g] she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.[h]
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. (Luke 2:33-39CSB)
As I read this passage in Luke, God reminds me that every voice, every gift, every life is important to His plan. Tucked in this passage of Joseph and Mary’s visit to the temple to dedicate Jesus, we get a picture of two people, Simeon (Luke 2:25-32) and Anna. Two people, a man and a woman, bear witness to who this baby is and who He will become. It was a fulfillment of the law which required two witnesses for any legal challenge.
I know I often skim past all these little “distractions” as I read scripture. But I am learning to slow down and see why God includes these details about Anna. Simeon’s story was more about what he had to say about Jesus. Anna’s story is more about who she was than what she said. Who she was is important.
In the first two sentences we have a clear picture of Anna. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Phanuel means, “Face of God,” and Asher means, blessed. She was a widow who had been serving God in the temple by praying and fasting for 84 years. That is a whole story all by itself! She had been faithfully serving God, quietly praying for the people of Israel. Probably praying for those that passed the “old lady” by every day.
She looks at the face of God in this baby. In the busyness of the people rushing in and out of the temple, she and Simeon see the redemption of God’s people. This child who will reveal the hearts of people.
Our light in the darkness. Our redeemer.