“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age” (Luke 2:36).
While most people have no problem recognizing the faces of friends and family, a small percentage have a cognitive disorder called prosopagnosia—or face blindness—that impairs their ability to recognize familiar faces, including their own. Many people who are affected by this disorder have suffered brain damage, but others, up to 2.5 percent of the population, are born with the affliction.
The fusiform gyrus, a part of the brain that becomes active when a normal person looks at a face, may be damaged in a person with face blindness. Many people with this handicap learn to use other cues like voice, skin colour, and clothing to recognize their loved ones.
Anna, the elderly prophetess who was serving at the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was dedicated, recognized her Redeemer in the face of a baby. It was the most precious moment in her life.
This woman, the Bible tells us, was “of a great age.” Seven years after she had married, her husband had died, and she had been a widow for eighty-four years. Even if she had married at the tender age of fifteen, she would have been 106 years old when the infant Jesus was brought to the temple. Yet her aging eyes clearly discerned the presence of Divinity.
She came in just as Simeon was holding Jesus, prophesying about Him, and blessing the family. Anna confirmed Simeon’s words, and “she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (verse 38).
Anna knew beyond a doubt that this Child was the absolute fulfillment of all the prophecies of Scripture with which she was so familiar. It was the most significant event she could ever witness. And it was a moment that filled her heart with overwhelming joy and comfort, for this baby represented hope and salvation not only for her but for all who would behold Him with gladness.
King of all, You came as a humble baby to bring me salvation and fill my heart with gladness. Thank You!
For Further Study: Luke 2:36–38; Matthew 18:11; Hebrews 7:25