The Widow With Two Coins
Her Character: Though extremely poor, she is one of the most greathearted people in the Bible. Just after warning his disciples to watch out for the teachers of the law, who devour widows' houses, Jesus caught sight of her in the temple. He may have called attention to her as a case in point.
41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites,[a] which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
Two tiny coins. Mark identifies them as two Greek Lepta, tiny copper coins worth less than a penny.
Roman coins (denarius), Greek coins (drachma, farthing), and Jewish coins (mite, pound, shekel, and talent) are all mentioned in the New Testament. The Israelites typically used the coinage of the nation that ruled over them, but they also developed their own local system of coinage.
Coins didn't actually come into use in Israel until after the people returned from exile between 500 and 400 B.C. Before that time people bartered, exchanging produce, animals, and precious metals for goods and services. A woman might barter a flask of oil for a new robe or the wool from a lamb for a new lamp.
By Jesus' day, a large variety of coins had come into use in Palestine. New Testament Jews used coins from Rome and Greece as well as their own Jewish form of coinage. The temple tax had to be paid in Jewish currency - in shekels. Money changers set up their businesses in order to change other coinage into shekels for temple worshipers. Jesus was not opposed to the operation of such businesses, but to their operation within the temple itself. He furiously scattered them, declaring that his Father's house was a house of prayer, not a business site (Matthew 21:12 - 13)
While money is necessary for life in most cultures, the Bible warns against placing more importance on it than it should rightfully have. The widow who gave all she had furnishes us with the best example of recognizing the need for money - she had money, although very little - but also the need to hold it lightly- she willingly and lovingly gave it away. Peter warns us not to be "greedy for money" (1 Peter 5:2), and the writer to the Hebrews admonishes us to keep our "lives free from the love of money and be content with what [we] have" (Hebrews 13:5). When writing to Timothy, Paul penned those famous, and often misquoted, words about money: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10). A lover of money would have hung onto it more tightly than the widow and , when giving it away, would have made sure the gift was noisily apparent.
Our Life and Times
Money drives an effective and forceful wedge between our Saviour and us. Jesus knew that, and pointedly reminded us of money's power with these words: "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money" (Luke16:13)
Lord, how fitting that we have this devotional as the Holiday sales, bazaars, and endless catalog mailers fill up our mailboxes. Lord, I pray that this holiday season we remember your Word and that we must give freely to You. I thank you for the fact that I am an American and am so wealthy compared to so many. I know it is hard sometimes to imagine giving all that I have to you. Especially my last dime. Lord, please help your Word resonate in our lives, help us to give to those who have nothing.
The Widow's Legacy in Scripture
Why would Jesus watch people putting money into the offering" What do you think he was looking for?
Picture yourself in this scene: You're in the temple, putting your offering into the receptacle. You don't know it, but Jesus is watching. What does he see?
The trumpet-shaped receptacles for offerings were made of metal. Compare the difference between the sound of the widow's offering with the sound of the offerings of the rich. Who do you think was most noticed by the crowd? Who did Jesus notice?
What did Jesus see about the woman that others in the crowd missed? What might Jesus see about you that others around you might miss?
What was significant about the widow's offering? Why do you think Jesus pointed the widow's offering out to his disciples? What did he want them to think, to understand?
How does the widow's offering compare to the offering Jesus was about to make? What was similar about it? What was different?
What has the Holy Spirit taught you through this story?
Her Legacy of Prayer
Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, 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 21:43
Reflect on Mark 12:41-44
Praise God for judging not by outward appearances but as one who sees the heart.
Offer Thanks for blessings of money, time, energy, and emotional resources.
Confess any tendency to act as though your security depends more on you than it does on God.
Ask God to make you a generous man or woman with the faith to believe that even small gifts are worth giving.
This week, think of an area of your life that feels particularly empty or impoverished. You may be lonely, financially stretched, or worried about the future. Whatever it is, pray about it. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. Is God inviting you to do something to express your trust? What kind of offering would be the most pleasing to him? Once you hear his voice, go ahead and give him what his heart desires.
Father, you are the source of every blessing. This week, help me to give, not only out of my wealth, but out of my poverty. Remind me that I belong to you, body and soul, hear and mind, past, present, and future.
Carry each other"s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Heather and I feel that God has put a genuine desire in our hearts to share His word with people. This blog is our attempt to get the Word of God to our friends in a practical and loving way. We are hoping to create a community of people that strengthen one another for the Kingdom of God. No matter where you are in your walk you are welcome here. Please feel free to share prayer requests, opinions, questions or anything that you feel led to say.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The Widow With Two Coins