Jesus looked straight ahead as He led His disciples to the Temple.
A Scribe stood on a street corner. His robe covered the top of the pedestal he stood on. His hands were lifted over his head. “…and God in Heaven we thank you for choosing us as Your chosen people. The fact that we’re not like the other nations is such a glorious event to behold. We give you our offerings of thanks and support…”
As his voice trailed off a gathering of Pharisees came into hearing.
“That was such a sumptuous feast you provided last evening.”
“I knew I had to seat you in the front, Caiaphas. How else could I honor God so well?”
“Excellent point, my friend. That’s as it should be.”
“So, did you take old-lady Anna’s house this morning?”
“No, she came up with the Temple tax, again. I don’t know how she does it every month.”
Jesus’ pace quickened as He entered the Temple. He stopped and turned around once inside. He waited for those following to catch up to Him.
“Beware of the Scribes who love their long robes and even longer prayers. The religious leaders who love to be seated at the best seats in the synagogues and at feasts are only looking out for themselves. They don’t think twice about taking widows’ houses. These will all receive a harsh judgement when they come to the Father.”
The sound emanating from the treasury drowned out anything else Jesus wanted to say, so, He stopped and watched.
Men carrying jars were pouring their offerings into the metal cone that fed into the treasury box.
One man slapped the back of the man whose jar was just emptied. “They’ll be able to put a new wing on the Temple with what you just put in there.”
The first man stood tall and smiled. “Yes, they can name it after me when it’s finished.”
They laughed as the next man dumped his coins in.
Jesus continued to watch as the men walked off. An old woman walked up and held her hand over the coffer. As her bent fingers uncurled two small coins fell. She turned and walked away.
Jesus slapped Judas Iscariot on the arm with the back of His hand. “Did you hear that?”
Judas looked at Jesus. “Hear it… I could barely see it from here. What was that? It looked like the two smallest coins available.”
Jesus smiled. “I tell you the truth, their sound is still echoing in Father’s ears.”
Matthew stepped forward. “But, that’s far less than even a day’s wage. What good is that pittance going to do for the Temple?”
Jesus looked at His men, then, waved a hand at the men carrying their empty jars. “The wealthy give out of their abundance. They’ll never miss that money. But, she…”
He turned His attention to the hunched figure balancing her walk with a cane. “She gave her whole livelihood to God, everything she had. God has a broad smile on His face right now.”
When you’re reading the Bible it’s important to see the context surrounding the passage you’re studying. I could have given you only the widow dropping her two coins in the treasury coffer and offered a lesson from that view. But, that’s only a portion of the lesson to be taught from this passage.
One advantage of showing scripture with fiction like I do is the fact that I can show you some of what Jesus’ followers saw as they learned from the Master. Scribes praying on street corners would have been common for them. Today, we can look past what that looked like. I can imagine Jesus’ blood boiling by the time He reached the Temple that day.
His warnings of not copying the pompous self-centered actions of the religious leaders of that day were punctuated with an exclamation point when the lonely widow casually inserted the last two coins she possessed into God’s care.
Jesus is again doing a heart-check here and He doesn’t want His men to miss the importance of the lesson. This is the living out of what He gave us in the center of the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 6. There He repeats the importance of doing all that we do with God’s happiness in mind.
There’s a term He uses to describe people who live out their religion in public to gain attention for themselves: hypocrites. These are people who are doing the right things as far as helping and giving, but their motives are completely selfish. They give with an eye on themselves. To sum up the lesson here I would say it’s:
It’s not about me, everything is to be done for the glory of God.
Jesus wouldn’t have had any qualms with the wealthy if they’d given their money quietly, but, that’s not what they did. The prayers of the Scribes would have pleased God if they’d been given sincerely from the heart and offered in secret. The meals the religious leaders enjoyed weren’t the issue, it was the glory and honor they received from those occasions that got Jesus all riled up.
I’m not about to tell you you shouldn’t have a savings account, or that you should give at least ten percent of your income. The amount you give is between you and God. Planning for the future is the prudent thing to do. Hoarding all your money is greed displayed by not trusting that God can and will provide for your needs.
Too many Christian ministries are struggling because God’s people are too afraid to step out in faith by giving their money to help them concentrate on getting the kingdom message out to people. I know there are too many ministries to give to all of them. Give to your local church first. Then support the one that lifts you up the best. Chances are good it’s also giving others a lift.
Give quietly and sincerely.
I’ll see you later. Wade