Anna was a prophetess and widow who lived in the Temple. It’s almost too hard to imagine what that moment must have been like for Anna.
For probably sixty years she had been a widow living at the temple, worshipping night and day, fasting and praying, even communicating prophecies to people. No doubt many of her thoughts and prayers focused on the coming Messiah and the redemption of Jerusalem.
Then all of a sudden, there He was—the Messiah—right in front of her. She heard what godly Simeon had said about Him, about how this baby was the Lord’s salvation and a light to the Gentiles. Could it really be true?
Anna came up to Mary and Joseph, thanking God for them and for their little baby, Jesus, the Savior of the world. What else could she say to them except thanks to God? Anna had plenty to say later, though—to everyone she met who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. She told them all about the baby she had seen in the temple and the hope that He was bringing to the entire world. Anna had seen the Messiah.
Most scholars place Jesus’ birth at about 5 BC, which means that Anna would have been about twenty-six years old (and perhaps recently widowed) when the independent kingdom of Israel under the Hasmoneans was overtaken by the vast Roman Empire.
Perhaps this is what led her to commit herself to fasting and praying day and night in the temple for the rest of her life.