Mark: The Widow’s Offering

Read: Mark 12:41-44

John Mark and Luke include this short narrative about giving offering for the temple, the massive enterprise, the centerpiece of Jewish culture at that time. It’s a brief look into life around the temple, but we have a few extra adjectives to describe the event that I found interesting:

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. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Mark 12:41-42

Jesus watched the crowd. Sometimes actions speak so much louder that great speeches. In my mind, I see Jesus sitting across from the procession of people making their way to the temple treasurer while the disciples are looking around trying to figure out what’s next. He’s just watching. Demonstrating that people matter more than stuff as the scene unfolds.

Rich people threw there money into the coffers. They didn’t just pay their portion, they threw in large amounts. If I understand correctly, the currency of the day would be coins of various denominations. I imagine the noise that a bag of coins might make as it enters the chest. At eCity coffee, some of the workers us a large metal tip jar. It’s embarrassing to drop in a few coins because of the loud sound it makes. Paper wouldn’t make the sound, but really? Should I tip a dollar for a 2-dollar coffee? Anyway, the rich in this story want people to know they have arrived, so they make as much noise as possible.

The poor widow put in two coins. On the other hand, the widow merely puts in her two coins. Gently, reverently, respectfully. No show, no flashy appearance, and no explanation.

The Teachable Moment

Jesus takes time to teach His disciples a significant lesson.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43-44

This woman was committed to serving God the best way she knew how. Her understanding of demonstrating her love of God was to give all she had for the temple to continue so she would have a place to worship. She wasn’t on the board of elders, not a Pharisee, nor a teacher of the law. She was merely a person doing her best to honor God.

Like people who are dedicated to weekly attendance, I suspect there are a few who fit this woman’s character. They are doing their very best to honor Christ as the church leadership has taught. I really appreciate the story because it shows that Jesus honors those who give from their heart, those who have complete faith in the system of worship without piety or selfish intent. These will be honored by Christ.

I’m sure the juxtaposition of these men will be punished most severely (v.40) with this story is no accident. Those who misled congregations will have to answer for their behavior–not the faithful who devote themselves with all their heart.

Lord, thank you for the reminder that as we humbly offer ourselves with faith,  You will receive our offering.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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