But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23 NIV
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
There was also a prophetess, 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, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 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. Luke 2:22-24, 36-38 NIV
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
His Word shall not fail you, He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell
This beautiful hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” describes much of Anna’s life. Anna, meaning gracious, is the same Hebrew word as Hannah, who was another woman of prayer and devotion to God. Luke gives us a short, two-verse description of her life – which illustrates the fruit of the Spirit in action. We are given a snapshot picture of a woman, a widow, who spent her life in God’s presence and worshiping God.
As Joseph and Mary approach the temple to dedicate baby Jesus, Simeon recognizes the baby as Israel’s salvation and declares this to his parents. Anna is described as a prophetess. Because of the time spent in God’s presence, fixing her gaze on him, she also recognizes Jesus as the redemption of Israel. Anna then tells everyone about the child that has come to Redeem Israel.
Anna was faithful in her worship of God. She was patient, waiting for the Lord’s redeemer. She spent her days praying and fasting, while in the temple – the most holy place in all of Israel. She is placed alongside Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (II Kings 22:14) and the daughters of Phillip (Acts 21:9) as a prophetess of the Lord. Luke 2:38b says,“she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
What does it mean to you to fix your eyes upon Jesus? A. W. Tozer said, “Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” Listen to this version of the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. While you are listening, think about ways you can fix your eyes upon Jesus. Perhaps you could take a walk and pray asking God to show you where you need to refocus on him. Ask him to show you who you should be praying for today, and in what way. You could spend time reading Psalm 103 and worshiping him for his unfailing love for you. Perhaps journaling, or drawing is a way for you to spend time in God’s presence. For many of us, listening to praise music, brings us into God’s presence. Explore ways to spend time in God’s presence and fixing your eyes on Jesus this week.
By Grace Hunter