The world is infatuated with beautiful people. We have science to explain what makes a person beautiful or handsome. Researchers have even studied human features from different regions of the world to help us know what it is we appreciate about the different types of people on this globe. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, the male physique was the ultimate symbol of beauty and thus physical competition was created to show off the sculpted muscular humanity. For our American culture, the female body has become an obsession and this plays out in other arenas like beauty pageants... (I’m done talking about this)
In Jewish tradition, there was one tribe who was known for the beauty of their women and the talent of their women. That tribe was Asher. These women were so sought after that the Jewish leaders allowed the high priest to take them in marriage. If there were a king looking for a Jewish girl to marry, he would not have to wonder into the region of Asher very far to find a suitable royal companion.
So, when we meet Anna in Luke 2, we should be surprised by the description, it really shouldn’t make since to us at all. Let’s read it:
Luke 2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37a and then had been a widow for eighty-four years.
Ok—But maybe you have already asked the question I have in my mind. If she is from the tribe of Asher, a tribe known for beauty and for talent, then why would she choose to spend 84 years by herself as a widow. The text tells us…
37b She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Now, the natural thing for Anna, once her husband died at age 21, would have been to look for a husband (or really to have a man look for her, which I’m certain happened given what we know about her).
And perhaps this is what Anna had discovered, that the only way for redemption, or salvation from this life was for God’s promise to be true. Perhaps another man would heal her broken heart, perhaps some children would give her purpose as a mother. However, only the Messiah could make the world right, and only God’s promise was big enough to heal the nations.
And so Anna sought after the promise of God. Everyday, ceaselessly in the temple praying and fasting like a person who is morning for the dead, and like a person who can’t “get over it” who has lost it all. She was a fixture in the temple; hoping God would hear her.
Anna doesn’t teach us how to be a mother, or a wife, she teaches us how to be a disciple of Jesus, trusting that God’s promises are true even when every experience might ask us to question it.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.