Today’s message of February 24, 2019 from Asst. Pastor Travis Jackson:
We learned last week about Simeon, who proclaimed that the baby Jesus was the Messiah, and he was told by the Spirit that he would not die until he saw his Redeemer in person.
Anna, the prophetess, also provided testimony as to who Jesus Christ is.
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, and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 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.
She was a remarkable woman. Her husband had died and she was a widow who was advanced in years. Women who were left alone as widows, in that day, were poverty stricken. It was difficult for her at that time, as well as others, in the first century. This is why Paul made this statement about how to care for people like Anna.
1 Timothy 5:1-5
Don’t rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters with all purity. Support widows who are genuinely in need. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God. The widow who is truly in need and left all alone has put her hope in God and continues night and day in her petitions and prayers.
Anna was a prayerful woman who prayed night and day (Luke 2:37).
People who fast can do so in a religious or a non-religious sense. Some people will fast just to lose weight, but the act of fasting with prayer reflects a denial of self for the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ.
She had her mind set upon God. She was very disciplined in her approach. Her husband’s death gave her the desire to seek after God more.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
I want you to be without concerns. The unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But the married man is concerned about the things of the world—how he may please his wife—and his interests are divided. The unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But the married woman is concerned about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is proper and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction.
It’s certainly not wrong to have a spouse, but your natural desire to please your spouse will create priorities. This relationship that Anna had with the Lord had to be developed over time.
1 Timothy 5:9-10
No widow is to be enrolled on the list for support unless she is at least sixty years old, has been the wife of one husband, and is well known for good works—that is, if she has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work.
God was asking for the people to care for the widows, and the church is reminded of its importance in doing the same.
Anna was praying night and day. Are we practicing this same approach? Are our hearts divided and distracted from this practice?
We are to be persistent in our prayers to God.
Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up. “There was a judge in a certain town who didn’t fear God or respect people. And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ “For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect people, yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so that she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.’” Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God grant justice to his elect who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay helping them? I tell you that he will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
We are reminded that Joseph and Mary, when they brought Jesus to be presented to the temple, had encounters with Simeon and Anna, who they did not know. Simeon gave his declaration, and then Anna spoke and gave God the glory for the knowledge that the Redeemer had come.
Anna was speaking to everyone as to what she had seen and heard. She could not contain herself over this good news! Redemption for the people had arrived! (Luke 2:38)
The group of people who spoke about Christ in Luke—Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon and now Anna, were all selected to speak about Christ and His glory through the coming of Christ and the one who was to prepare the world for Him, John the Baptist. In all of this, Jesus Christ was being glorified.
Anna was in the temple night and day because she desired to be where the Lord was. She heard the blessing of Simeon and gave praise to God for the arrival of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ was the Redeemer of the people. He would be the author of the New Covenant.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God? Therefore, he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
When you hold near and dear to you the redemption that Christ gives to you, then you take this matter very seriously. You would know the need for repentance and God’s forgiveness. If you were to stand before God and die right now, He would deem you justified because you believe in Him and what He has done for you.