Every word that Jesus spoke had a purpose and there is much that we can learn from the things that He has said. In this morning lesson, we are going to be examining the event that Jesus observed at the temple treasury as the rich gave and then how the poor widow gave. He will use this event to teach His disciples and us about how the poor widow gave more than those that were rich. I hope this lesson will teach you how important it is that we strive to have the same spirit as this widow when it comes to our giving.
Mark 12:41 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, 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." (Lk. 21:1-4).
This happened on Tuesday of the Passover week in the temple just
days before Jesus would be crucified. Many had come to
Deuteronomy 16:16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17 "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.
In the NT there are 2 different Greek words that are translated temple:
• Hieron – refers to the temple and all the outer courts Mk. 11:11
• Naos – refers only to the sanctuary itself where only the priest are allowed to enter. Luke 1:9
Most of the time “Hieron” is used and this is the word used in our text to describe the area that this event took place. More specifically it took place in the court of the women. We need to understand that there were several courts that the temple area was divided.
Court of the Gentiles - located on the outside of the main temple area.
Court of the women – this was main area that most people worshipped and gathered. It’s where the treasury was.
Court of Israel - was for men only and you to climb up 15 steps to get to it. It was a narrow corridor that surrounded the area where the priest worked where they could see the sacrifices that were made.
Court of the priest – where only the priest could go was on 3 foot high platform where they performed the animal sacrifices.
The House of God- included the Sanctuary and the Holy of holies, which use to house the Ark of the Covenant. Only the high priest entered into this place once a year.
Now that we have a better understanding of the layout of the temple area, let’s get back to court of the women. Again, this is where the treasury was and it contained 13 chests for collecting the gifts that were brought. One writer I looked said that each of one these chests were marked for specific purpose. Some were for the temple tax, monies for the animals purchased for sacrifice, free will offerings and other various needs for the temple.
had been teaching in this area every day since His triumphant entry into
Luke 19:47And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, 48 and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.
The first thing the religious leaders did was challenge Jesus authority to teach in the temple. In response, He asked them about the authority of the baptism of John. When they did not answer His question, He did not reply to theirs. He used several parables—the two sons, the vineyard and the husbandmen, and the wedding feast—to show how the kingdom of heaven would be reserved for obedient servants and not for those who rejected the Son of God.
Jesus was asked many questions and He either answered them or turned their questions back on them. When they could not answer His question about Christ’s relationship with David, they finally retreated as,
Matthew 22:46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
Mark 12:41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.
Jesus was sitting opposite of the treasury. It appears that Jesus was taking a break and He was watching the people put their money into the treasury. Now the word “saw” or “beheld” in the KJV means to look with great attention. He noticed how the rich gave much. I wonder if they were making a show of it like some of the Jews had done with their prayers. As Jesus was watching carefully, along came a poor widow who threw in two mites.
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.
Jesus used this opportunity to teach His disciples and us about the proper attitude about giving. Jesus point out how the rich were giving out of their abundance, but this poor widow had given all that she had because of her giving spirit and the trust she had in God. Even though she had not given much money, Jesus said that she had given more that the rich had because she freely gave all she had even though she was poor. This is the same word that is used to describe what Jesus did for you and I.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
When it came to giving, this lady had the same attitude that Christ did with His life. Now let’s take a closer look at the value of her gift
The widow only gave 2 mites. This was the smallest Jewish coin there was and two of them together was only worth about half a cent. The common wage during the first century was denarius a day, which is worth about 46 cents today. This means that a normal days wages was approximately 100 time more than what she had and that was all she had to live on. Yet she was willing to give it all to God and to begin again. She understood what sacrificial giving was all about.
Because of her attitude, she raised the value of those two mites beyond what everyone else had given. The significance was not in what she gave, but in what she did not keep. Jesus is teaching us that no gift is to small if it given with the right heart. It also important to see that no matter how poor a person is, they are never to poor that they can’t give to God. It certainly didn’t keep the poor widow who looked poor and was poor. Instead, she gave just as we are commanded to give today. As Paul said,
2 Corinthians 8:12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
We don’t read about this woman being embarrassed or ashamed of such a small gift and she shouldn’t be. Some people might consider her foolish for giving all she had to live on the Lord, but Jesus didn’t say that she gave too much. She didn’t worry about tomorrow. Instead, she was just concerned about today and she wanted to give her all to God.
Just like the faithful Abraham who was willing to give up his son to God as a sacrifice who meant everything to him, this widow was willing to sacrifice her livelihood to God. Do we have this much faith? Do we trust in the Lord to take care of us when we use what we have to His glory? Hebrews 11:6 promises a reward to those who diligently seek after Him in faith.
This poor widow reminds me of the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:12-16. She only had a handful of flour and little bit of oil that she had planed to make for herself and her son to eat as their last meal before they died. But when Elijah told her to make a cake for him first, her faith caused her to share this last bit food with him.
Because of he giving attitude, God rewarded her. From that time on, her bin of would never be empty and neither would her jar of oil until the drought was over.
How about you? Will you share your “bin of flour” and your “jar of oil” with someone who needs it? Now God will not miraculously replenish what we give today, but He is able to provide for us through His providence. As Paul says,
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Where Is Your Treasure?
In Luke 18, we read of a rich man who did not love God with all his heart, mind and soul. Jesus knew his heart and told him to sell all that he had, distribute to the poor, and to follow Him. However, he was not willing to put God first. Instead, he trusted in his riches and put them before God and went away. The rich man’s actions proved what Jesus said earlier in,
Mark 10:24 Children, how hard it is for those who trust
in riches to enter the
He let the love of money keep him from the treasures of heaven. However, this widow was willing to give voluntarily what this rich young man would not give.
The rich fool of Luke 12 is another good example of an improper heart. He didn’t even do as much as the rich that gave out of their abundance. Instead, he stored it up and horded all for himself. Since he was greedy not only did he lose all that he possessed when he died, he lost his soul. Jesus concluded that story by saying,
Luke 12:20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
He was like the Laodiceans of Revelation 3:17, who said, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' but Jesus tells them that they don’t know it, but they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked –
We have to be careful today that we don’t have a selfish attitude when it comes to giving. If we continue to be greedy and stingy when it comes to giving to God and helping others, then we put ourselves in danger of missing heaven. Paul taught Timothy,
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Now there is nothing wrong with being rich as long as we can keep our priorities straight. Abraham, Joseph, and Job are good examples of men who were rich and remained righteous before the Lord. In fact, Paul goes on to give instructions to the rich. Notice what he says,
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
So, those who are rich can do many great things for the Lord. God is not that concerned with how much money we have. Instead, He is concerned in how we focus our attention. Jesus said,
Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Again, I ask you, Where is your treasure?
The Privilege Of Giving
contrast to the church at
Revelation 2:9 "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);
The same was said of the Macedonians in,
2 Corinthians 8:2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
These Jews were
described as being in the same state of poverty as our poor widow and yet
they insisted that their gift be accepted among the collections being taken to
the Jewish Christians in
Why were they so eager for Paul to accept their gift? Paul tells the reason in verse
2 Corinthians 8:5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
Can this be said of us? Our physical giving can never be called into question if we have first given ourselves to God and we have the proper love for God and our fellowman.
In Malachi 3, God challenged the Israelites to come back to the Lord. He said they had robbed Him by their pathetic excuse for giving:
Malachi 1:13 "And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?" Says the LORD.
Malachi 3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Are we like the Israelites? Do we take for granted everything God has given us in this life and then repay him by giving him the sick, blind, or maimed of our stock. In other words, are we given God our leftovers?
As Christians we are supposed to put God first in our lives, then our possessions come somewhere after that. When we do this, this is when we are told that God will reward us beyond measure:
2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Now I am not saying that God is going to make you physically rich if you give more, because a person can be rewarded in many ways other than money. Every Christians that faithful follows God and has a giving spirit is rich spiritually, which is far greater then physical wealth and the pot at the end of rainbow is a home in heaven.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Please understand that God doesn’t expect us to give more that we are able, He simply tells us to give as we prosper.
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
However, God does expect us to be good stewards of what we have. If we are careful with our money, time and talent that God has given us, we will be able to give more.
Even if we had no money to give, we can still give of our time and talent. Sometimes people don’t think they have much money to give to God, yet they seem to find plenty of money to spend on themselves. I think its important that we examine what we are spending our money on.
Many will waste away money on the latest clothes have a closet full of movies that the buy and watch one time. People will buy expensive boats that they only use 1 or 2 times a year if that. Some eat out all the time or think they have to have steak dinners every night. Some think they have to have the latest car or truck and so they never own a vehicle because they are always making payments. Then others have trouble with the temptation the credit cards bring. They will use them to buy things they cannot afford and don’t really need and they are stuck with having to pay off their credit card along with it high interest rates for many years. By the time all this happens no wonder some people don’t have anything left to give to God.
We have to be careful that we don’t find ourselves getting caught up in greed because it easy for us to do. When we live beyond our means and try to keep with the Jones, then we are going to find ourselves robbing God because we are serving ourselves.
If we keep making ourselves and things our number one priority then we are going to pass that knowledge down to our children and they are going to have the same attitude that God gets the leftovers that is if there is anything left.
Giving to God is a privilege that we can all enjoy in one way or another. Jesus said that even a cup of cold water given in His name shall receive its reward. When we don’t give as we should, not only do we rob God, we rob ourselves of the privilege of giving! Jesus said that is better to give than it is to receive.
Just as Jesus watched the givers of the temple, He is watching how we give as well. He not looking at the amount we are giving, He is looking at our heart and knows whether or not we have giving spirit and if we are giving as we should. You may hide you feeling from your brothers and sisters in Christ, but God knows whether you are giving out of your abundance or whether you are giving him your leftovers.
If we find ourselves not having money to give to God because
we are living beyond our means, then we must be willing to sacrifice and to
deny ourselves a few comforts so that the
Adapted from “The Sayings of Jesus”