The Poor Widow's Gift
"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts." v.41
J Have you ever sat at the mall and watched people as they walk by. We often to it for entertainment, but Jesus did it with a great purpose. He was examining how the people worshiped by giving their financial gifts to God.
Thirteen trumpet-shaped containers where offerings and donations to the temple were placed. During Passover thousands of people had flooded the city and many brought huge offerings with them to be put into the treasury.
According to the Mishnah (a collection of Jewish writings 200 AD), each of the 13 containers had inscriptions designating what the offerings were for: Bird offerings,Young birds for the whole offering, Wood, Frankincense, Gold for the Mercy-seat, and, on six of them Freewill-offerings.
"Threw in large amounts"
"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues." Mt 6:2
No reference in history of trumpets ever being used; refers to the sound that was made when large amounts of money was thrown into the trumpet shaped containers. There was no paper currency at the time, all money would have been in medal coin.
"But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny." v.42
She was poor
Throughout the Bible the poor are often linked together with widows and orphans as a symbol of the disenfranchised in society; the underprivileged, the overlooked, the struggling, the needy for which we are to reach out to and help.
One of the signs of the legitimacy of his ministry was "The Gospel is preached to the poor"
"Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" Jas 2:5
They are singled out and promised the unique care and attention of God.
"For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help." Ps 72:12
She was a widow
She was without the protection and provision of a husband and was therefore exposed to uncommon and difficult trials.
She had no reason to think that she was special to God, but God had become very special to her.
Having no inheritance rights and often in want of life’s necessities, she was exposed to harsh treatment and exploitation. Widowhood was perceived by some to be a disgrace;
The most famous widow in the Bible is probably the story of Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath whose jar of oil would not run dry. 1 Kings 17:16
"Calling his disciples to him" v.43
Watch a most amazing thing
An extraordinary act of love and devotion on the part of this poor widow
Jesus is not teaching about giving in this passage.
He wants to draw our attention to "The personal devotion behind her sacrificial giving."
Learn a most important lesson
"I tell you the truth ("truly I say to you" empathic), this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others." v.43
Backdrop to this v.38
Religious leaders should have been the examples of whole-hearted devotion to God, but no, he had to point to as lowly poor widow to who what authentic religion looked like.
"this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others." v.43
Add up the monetary value of all the rich people's gifts, her's was more.
In his estimation the two copper coins were sparkling diamonds.
How was she able to do this? Jesus explains,
"They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.'" Mk 2:44
The Contrast: "They all gave out of their wealth"
"out of what they could well spare" Weymouth, "they gave a tiny part of their surplus" NLB
There is no disparagement or criticism of the rich in this story, they are merely a contrast to highlight the remarkable and beautiful thing she did.
The Key: "She gave out of her poverty"
"For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own," 2 Co 8:3
The Extent: "put in everything-all she had to live on."
A. Guidelines on giving
God watches what we do with our money "Watched"
They marched the people to the front and watched
Why would Jesus be so interested in people's money: reveals values, priorities, and devotion.
So, Jesus examines the motive behind our giving
To be seen: empty giving envelopes, a pledge don't intend to pay, big check to me personally.
Custom-habit: write the same check and don't think about it.
Fear of disobeying God
Give to get
Devotion and love
"Wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." 1 Co 4:5
Even the poor should give
"The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea." Ac 11:29
"On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." 1 Co 16:2
"God can do great things with tiny offerings. Those two pennies, given quietly with the widow’s motive, have produced more for the Kingdom in the intervening 2,000 years than all other gifts presented that Passover week. Down through the ages those two minuscule coins have been multiplied into billions and billions for God’s work as humble people have been liberated to give from their little. The Lord has converted those two coins into a perennial wealth of contentment and instruction for his Church."
B. Consecration: She "put in everything" v.44
"And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God s will." 2 Co 8:5
"The widows act cannot be reproduced mechanically. Even if you gave all that you have you could not in that way alone match her performance. Copy her faith, then you will be in her class, and the size of your gifts will, of course, take care of itself." Lensky
C. Extreme devotion: She "put in more... than all the others" v.44
She was somewhat our of her mind, but to her the only thing that matched what she felt in her heart was everything she had. She was pushed forward, compelled by her feelings to express it in some tangible way.
Not just the two coins, but more of herself, her heart, and devotion
She was silently saying to God, “I love you, and all I have is yours. Here’s my heart, my life.”
Everything is made easy by love
"Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.' Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'" Lk 7:44-48
May our lives rise up to the level of this lowly women. May our devotion to God match hers and may it be manifested in the deeds of our life.