One of the unsung heroes of Jesus’ birth story was an older lady named Anna. We know very little about her and she just pops into the story and back out very quickly. In Luke 2, the parents, Joseph and Mary, take their newborn baby Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord. This was in accordance with the Law that declared that the firstborn male belonged to the Lord.
While they were in the temple, Mary and Joseph run into two people: Simeon and Anna. Simeon had been told that he would not pass away until he saw the new Messiah. He rejoices in God’s promise coming true and beholding the Messiah. He offers a prophecy to Mary about the ministry of Jesus. After this, we find Anna.
Anna was a widow. She only lived with her husband for seven years before he died. Now she is 84, which means that she probably has been a widow for over 60 years. She is in her old age. She has very little to offer the world in terms of productivity. Her body is worn out from the challenges of life and loneliness. So what does she choose to do during her final years? She chooses to never leave the temple but worship night and day, fasting and praying. She decided that her final days would be devoted to worship, prayer, and expectation.
To her delight, she got to see the new Messiah and then she began to spread the news about this child’s role in God’s redemption. She was one of the first missionaries – spreading the good news of Jesus when He was only a baby.
One commentator remarked about Anna that her story reminds us that sometimes our most significant spiritual ministry is after our earthly productivity is over. To the world, Anna had little to offer. But to the kingdom of God, she was a worshiper, a prayer-warrior, and a missionary. Through her efforts, she helped speed along God’s redemption. She was rewarded by being able to see baby Jesus.
It is easy to feel like we have little to offer the work of the Lord because of age, health, or lack of education. But Anna provides a wonderful model. We can all pray. We call all worship. We can all share good news. Maybe that is the most important work for us to do.