|Vol. 13 No. 9 September 2011||
Adam B. Cozort
Mercy is defined by Webster as: “That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves… It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders.”
Mercy is not a common attribute to be found in the world, nor is it as common as it should be in the church. An individual’s general inclination is to repay a wrong by making sure the offender gets “what he deserves.” Yet, the child of God is required to be a merciful individual. Solomon wrote, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart” (Proverbs 3:3). The attribute of mercy is one that is required by God if one is to be found faithful.
The importance of mercy is further emphasized by Jesus when He stated, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). In order for us to obtain the forgiveness of God, we must be willing to show mercy (the attribute that leads to forgiveness) in our own lives. Jesus illustrated this with the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:23-35. He concluded that parable by stating: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (vs. 35).
May we understand and implement the attribute of mercy in our lives, enabling us to present the attributes of God in our own lives and to receive the forgiveness so desperately needed from our Creator.
Anna has a very brief mention in the Bible in Luke 2:36-38. She met Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus in the Temple. Jesus’ parents had brought Him to the Temple for the proper sacrifice for a son.
Anna was 84-years-old. Some commentators think her age has symbolic significance. In Jewish numerology, seven represents perfection and twelve represents completeness. Seven times twelve is eighty-four. Thus, some say she has lived a complete life in service to the perfect God. Our text does say that she did not depart from the Temple. This does not mean that she lived in the Temple, but that she was always there when appropriate for worship, service and meditation. She probably had some service in the Women’s Court since she is known as a prophetess. Stating her age also lets us know one can never get too old to serve God.
The mention of Anna’s prophecy is important. Women were not looked upon as very important in first century culture. Yet, Anna is now known throughout history by being mentioned as telling others about Jesus.
Anna’s name means “grace.” How appropriate, since she gave thanks to God for the redemption that He was bringing through Jesus. Luke gave specific names of Anna’s lineage. It must be important since there is so little told us about her. Her father’s name, Phanuel, means “the face of God.” Later, when the disciples desired to see the Father, Jesus told them that they had seen the Father through Him. It is also a fact that true grace only comes from the face of God. Anna is of the tribe of Asher. “Asher” means “happy” and comes from a root word that mans “fortunate” or “blessed.” Anna was indeed fortunate, blessed and happy to see baby Jesus, knowing that the redemption of the world would come through Him. There is something else interesting about her being of the tribe of Asher. The majority of that tribe disappeared with the northern kingdom when it fell to Assyria in 721 B.C. However, a few years later, a few men of Asher “humbled themselves” and came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:11). Anna was probably a descendant of those righteous few.
The righteous of Israel had been looking for and anticipating the coming of the Messiah for many years. Today, we look for the return of the Messiah at His Second Coming. Only the righteous were happy to see the Savior in the first century. Only the righteous will be happy to see Him at His Second Coming.
Study your Bible. Learn all you can from it. Be like Anna, and spend your life serving God. If any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.