Read: Luke 20:45-21:4
Mark and Luke both provide two brief stories to contrast pride and arrogance versus humble obedience. The former will be severely punished while the latter is honored far above the proud.
Jesus holds no punches in revealing the proud and arrogant Pharisees, the teachers of the law, that go about in flashy robes, long prayers, and seats of honor. We see this in a lot of different venues, especially in the entertainment business which, in my definition, includes sports. A pro basketball player makes the game-winning buzzer-beater then runs around beating his chest, standing on tables, making sure everyone knows he is the hero.
In this first story, Luke lets us know that the Pharisees’ actions will have consequences:
These men will be punished most severely. Luke 20:47c
Their punishment, however, is not so much because of their boasting, their buzzer-beater pride, it’s because of how they mishandle an important responsibility for the temple: offering, especially from those who are widows.
They devour widows’ houses Luke 20:47a
Widows and orphans have a special place in God’s heart. As we read through the Bible we see references to the fatherless and widows quite often, each time to make a point that we have a responsibility to care for those who are seen as the least in society.
Jesus makes the point that those responsible for the temple offering are abusing their position by taking advantage of widows. The crowd would certainly agree, but what can be done? No solution is offered except this important perspective: Jesus knows.
The Humble Offering
To hammer the point home, Jesus looks out over the area where the offering is rendered and notices a poor widow.
he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. Luke 21:1-3
No doubt the temple coffer keepers looked down upon the widow for her insignificant gift, but Jesus sees something completely different. He uses this as an example for us to follow as well as some assurance that the inappropriate behavior of those in charge is seen by the Father. He will not let this go unpunished.
We know the story well. I hope this reminder helps us to pause when we interact with the waiter at a restaurant or friend or neighbor.
Jesus knows the hearts of mankind. He will avenge those who cannot speak for themselves. Have faith. Don’t be like these people. Learn the art of servant leadership as demonstrated by Jesus. We don’t need fancy titles or reserved parking spaces. All of that stuff is temporary anyway.
Lord help us to see the widows of this world, those who are fatherless, those who are far from You. Help us to see the hearts of all we interact with and humbly offer our very best to advance Your kingdom.