Luke 2:36
There was also a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, who was well along in years. She had been married for seven years,
Sermons
The Circumcision and Presentation of JesusR.M. Edgar Luke 2:21-40
Anna an Example to the AgedJames Foote, M. A.Luke 2:36-38
Beautiful Old AgeH. W. Beecher.Luke 2:36-38
First Female Testimony to ChristVan Doren.Luke 2:36-38
Occupation of AnnaDr. Geikie.Luke 2:36-38
Piety in the AgedPreachers' TreasuryLuke 2:36-38
The Prophetess AnnaJ. Parker, D. D.Luke 2:36-38
The Story of a Lonely Woman's WorkMarianne Farningham.Luke 2:36-38
The Testimony of WomanhoodW. Clarkson Luke 2:36-38
From this interesting episode, without which the beautiful story of the infant Savior in the temple would hardly be complete, we learn -

I. THAT THERE IS ROOM IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST FOR THE SERVICE OF WOMAN-HOOD. It was well that the aged Simeon should bear his testimony to the birth of the Savior; it was also well that this aged and honorable prophetess should "likewise give thanks." Woman as well as man was to utter reverent joy on this supreme occasion. Woman, in the person of Anna, might well rejoice; for in the kingdom of Christ there is "neither male nor female;" all distinction of sex is unknown. Woman is as free to enter that kingdom as man; she may reach as high a position, by personal excellency, in it; she is as welcome to render holy service and fruitful testimony; is as certain to reap the reward of fidelity in the kingdom of heaven to which it leads. Women were the most faithful attendants on our Lord during his earthly ministry; they have been, since then, the most regular worshippers and the most devoted workers in his Church (see homily on Luke 8:2, 3).

II. THAT LONG LONELINESS MAY WELL BRING US INTO CLOSE COMMUNION WITH GOD. Anna had a very long widowhood (ver. 36), and in her loss of human fellowship she waited much on God. She "departed not from the temple, but served God... with prayers night and day." When denied one another's society, what can we do better than seek fellowship with our heavenly Father, with our Divine Friend? What, indeed, can we do so well? Communion with the Father of our spirits will bring healing to the wounded soul, will be companionship for the lonely hour, will promote sanctity and submissiveness of will, will remind us of those other children of his who need our sympathy and succor, and will send us forth blessing and blest on the errands of love.

III. THAT A VISION FROM GOD SHOULD RESULT IN PRAISE AND TESTIMONY. Anna "gave thanks unto the Lord, and spake of him [the infant Christ] to all," etc. Inspired of God, she recognized the long looked-for Messiah, and immediately she broke into praise, and forthwith began to communicate the joyful fact to all whom she could reach. This is the true order and the right procedure. When God reveals himself or his truth to us, we must first go to him in gratitude and praise, and must lose no time in passing on to others what he has entrusted to us.

IV. THAT AGE HAS ITS OFFERING TO BRING, as well as youth and prime. It is pleasant to think of the aged Anna, some way past four score, bent and feeble with the weight of years, speaking to "all them that looked," etc., and telling them that he whom they had waited for so long had come at last. A fair sight it is in the eyes of man, and surely in his also who estimates our service according to our ability (ch. 21:3), when those whose strength is well-nigh gone and who have earned their rest by long and faithful labor will not be persuaded to retire from the field, but labor on until the darkness of death arrests them.

V. THAT HOLY EXPECTATION WILL MEET WITH ITS FULFILMENT. There were many looking ("all of them," etc.) for redemption (ver. 38); and as they waited for God and upon him, their hearts' desires were granted. God may delay his answer for a while, even for a long while, but in due time it will come. The seeker will find; the worker will reap. - C.







And there was one Anna, a prophetess.
1. Excited by long expectations.

2. Based on personal sight.

3. Given with full candour.

4. Sealed by holy walk.

5. Crowned by a happy old age.

(Van Doren.)

Let me recommend to all persons advanced in life her spirit of holy abstraction — an abstraction, not from duty, but from the sins, and cares, and vanities of the world. It is difficult to conceive a more unbecoming, or more pitiable object, than a person, whether male or female, far advanced in years, but still engrossed with the trifles of time. It will not be supposed that it is meant to say that aged believers should not be truly happy and cheerful; but very different is the joy of God from the gaiety of the world; very different is the rational and devout placidity from the unreflecting and ill-timed mirth. The vain attempt to go on as formerly, in defiance of the ravages of time, and the failing of nature; the affectation of the dress, manners, and enjoyments of youth, in the midst of the infirmities of age; the haunt of giddy amusement resorted to with feeble and tottering steps; the wreathy garland on the withered brow; the world still predominant at threescore and ten, or fourscore; the heart barricaded against the admission of serious thoughts, and full of the things of sense, when a very short space of time must shut the scene, and dispel every dream, and fix the destiny for ever'; — alas! alas! let who will admire this and call it pleasant, every wise man must feel disposed to exclaim, How incongruous, how absurd, how melancholy, how sinful! But an aged Christian, justly estimating the circumstances in which he is placed, contented, thankful, grave, pious, and consistent — how becoming, how engaging, and how venerable! A very little reflection, too, must suffice to show the impropriety of the aged spending the small remainder of their time in unprofitable amusements, and also the impropriety of others encouraging them to do so. If it be so that some who are far advanced into the vale of tears, spend some hours of almost every lawful clay in any such manner as merely kills the time, it is truly to be much lamented. If indeed their mind be in such a state of dotage as to unfit them for anything useful, there may be some excuse for the habit; but it must be criminal and very hurtful, as long as they are in possession of ability to distinguish right from wrong, and to make any preparation for the unseen world on which they are verging. Far other employments ought to engage them. It was not thus that aged Anna sought her amusement and solace. Let the aged get interested, deeply interested, about the things of God, and they will not then stand in need of any expedients which are, to say the least, of doubtful propriety. Let them, like Anna, as far as strength permits, regularly and devoutly frequent the temple of God. Let them be much in religious exercises at home. Let them speak to others on the subject of religion. Let their lips, which must soon be closed, speak for Christ while they can. Advices from persons of their experience may be well taken, when those from persons of less standing may be despised. Let them study in all things to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, that their hoary heads may be crowns of glory, being found in the way of righteousness. Thus, that God who hath taught, guided, and blessed them from their youth, will not forsake them when they are old; they shall safely and happily come to their grave in their full age, like a shock of corn in its season.

(James Foote, M. A.)

Preachers' Treasury.
I. PIETY IN THE AGED CONFIRMS AND ILLUSTRATES THE PROMISE WHICH GOD HAS MADE OF LONG LIFE TO THOSE WHO FEAR HIS NAME.

II. PIETY IN THE AGED CROWNS THOSE WHO POSSESS IT WITH ESPECIAL HONOUR.

III. PIETY IN THE AGED COMMENDS RELIGION TO OTHERS.

IV. PIETY IN THE AGED FURNISHES A BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATION OF THE MATURITY AND RIPENESS OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. Concluding inferences:

1. We should imitate the pious aged.

2. How thankful should the children of pious and aged parents be.

3. The departure of aged Christians from our midst reminds us who remain that the ranks before us are thinning out, and that we are pressing up to the forefront of the line. We should see to it, then, that we have their piety, and can honour their place.

(Preachers' Treasury.)

A very beautiful completion of a very beautiful picture. Simeon standing there alone as the representative of humanity is isolated; is there nowhere a companion who may share the riches of this new joy? The other side of human nature must be represented, and that deficiency is made up by the presence of the venerable prophetess. There they stand as father and mother of the whole race, giving hospitality and welcome to Him who came to save the world. They stood, as it were, at the front door of the world's house, and spake to the young King in the name of the captives He came to deliver. There are some womanly characteristics in this passage which should be noted.

1. Anna departed not from the Temple — persistent, faithful, constant, and thus a woman pre-eminently.

2. She served God with lastings and prayers night and day — self-denial, profound devotion, continual watching.

3. Where Simeon prayed, Anna gave thanks. It would seem as if there was just the faintest touch of self-consideration in the prayer of Simeon, as he wished to be gone from scenes that wearied him; but the prophetess, eighty and four years old, constant through all changes, hopeful through all fears, was willing to linger longer, for she spoke nothing of her own release, but thanked God for His mercy, and comforted many that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Blessed are they who can sing in their old age, and turn all their own experience into comfort for those who mourn.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Our text presents us with the picture of a lonely woman, old, and a widow. Could a less attractive subject be chosen? There is something interesting in a young widow; but who cares to look at an old one, whose charms have long since faded, whose eyes are dim, whose hair is white, whose face is wrinkled, and whose hands are tremulous? But there is a beauty that does not depend upon youth, a loveliness that wears well, and cannot be washed out even by tears, a charm that comes in answer to the prayer, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us," Of this beauty Anna, the prophetess, had a full share; and the story of her life, briefly as it is told, is not devoid of interest. Anna, "the gracious," as her name signifies, was the daughter of Phanuel, evidently a man who lived as one who saw the face of God. While still very young the maiden was wedded, and for seven happy years youth and love filled her heart with gladness. But at the end of that time the shadow of death passed over the Jewish home and hid the light, and stilled the song, and filled the house with mourning. What was she to do, that young widow with her life before her? She had surely some excuse for joining that innumerable company of disappointed women who talk of blighted lives, and are themselves a blight upon everything that Comes near them. But she let "the useful trouble" of her life soften and sanctify her. She put her trust in the God of Israel, and received with meekness the chastening of His hand. She took herself and her sorrow to the Temple. And there a new longing and a new love took possession of her;. for were they not all looking for the Messiah, and might not the time of His coming be near? She would consecrate herself to God and to His service in the Temple. Other women could not do it; the sweet clamour of the children, and the wishes of their husbands kept them at home; but she would have her pleasures too, and the joy of the Lord should be her strength. And so the young widow took her place, and day by day, and year by year, returned to it. The sun touched Olivet with golden beams and left it again in shadow more times than she could count. The fig trees blossomed and shed their fruit, the valleys drank up the early and the latter rain, the tender grapes became ripe and were gathered, the corn showed first the green blade, and then the full ears; the feasts came round with their joyous assemblings; and, year after year, Anna was in the Temple, neither wretched nor useless. God gave to her the gift of prophecy. She saw what some eyes could not see, and she had power to utter the Divine revelations which were made to her. Complacently and tranquilly she saw the years pass away until eighty-four had seamed her face, and bent her form. But He whom she had served with such fidelity and devotion had a wonderful joy in reserve for her yet. Coming into the Temple one day, as usual, she heard an unusual sound. Simeon, with tremulous voice, was singing that new song, which has been continued by the Church ever since. In his arms he held the Child Jesus; and, seeing Him, what could Anna do but take up the strain of thanksgiving, and pour out her soul in praise? And then she found that, after all, her work was not over. She had known what it was to wait long, and others were waiting still. She could not keep the good news to herself. She became the first evangelist of His advent in the city of her King, and "spake of Him to all them," &e. We are taught at least three things by the brief biography which Luke has written of Anna.

1. What is the best cure for loneliness? — Something to do, and the determination to do it.

2. What is woman's work in the Church, and who are the women to do it? More and more every year it is coming to be understood that there are departments which women can excellently fill. There are thousands of devoted women scattered about in different parts of our country who, in quiet places, and by womanly methods, are doing an immense amount of good. More Annas to spend their days in God's Temple, and speak a kindly word to those who are in darkness: women who have a ready hand to take up any duty which would not otherwise be done — these are the women that are needed. But it is lonely women especially who are called to Christ's work.

3. God will most richly reward the services of the faithful. No one knows exactly what the reward will be, for He delights to give us surprises of joy.

(Marianne Farningham.)

Anna was of the tribe of Asher, and therefore a Galilean. She was eighty-four years of age, and had thus lived through the long sad period of war, conquest, and oppression which had intensified, in every Jewish heart, the yearning for national deliverance by the promised Messiah. Her long life had been spent in pious acts and services. She had never married again a fact, mentioned by St. Luke, in accordance with the feeling of the day, to her honour, but had been, in the words of St. Paul, "a widow indeed," trusting in God, and continuing in supplications and prayers night and day. She might in truth be said to have lived in the Temple; having very likely come from Galilee to be near the holy place, and thus able to give herself up to religious exercises, on the spot, where, in the eyes of a Jew, they were most sacred. Such a woman must have been well known in a place like Jerusalem. Catching the burden of Simeon's words as she passed, she too, like him, forthwith thanks God that the promise of the Messiah is now, at last, fulfilled. There could have been few, however, to whom the glad tidings of such a Saviour were welcome, for, though the heart of the nation was burning with Messianic hopes of a political kind, we are told that Anna was able to tell them to all in Jerusalem who looked for a redemption of a higher type.

(Dr. Geikie.)

Sometimes the sun seems to hang for a half-hour in the horizon, only just to show how glorious it can be. The day is done; the fervour of the shining is over, and the sun hangs golden — nay, redder than gold — in the west, making everything look unspeakably beautiful, with the rich effulgence which it sheds on every side. So God seems to let some people, when their duty in this world is done, hang in the west, that men may look on them, and see how beautiful they are. There are some hanging in the west now.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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