Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Two Mites and Two Widows

Life of Christ 159

          It is Tuesday morning. Jesus will die tomorrow. Jesus has thus far spent the day engaged in a vigorous verbal sparring match with the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians. Along the way He has proven Himself once again to be a master of the Scriptures. He has not backed down one single inch. In fact, He has actually gone on the offensive – against the spirit of the age, against the leadership of the age – on their home court.
The Widow's Mite, Jan Luyken, 1700
       Now, wearied in spirit from the opposition and rebellion He has faced along with the thought of how this long day will end tomorrow afternoon, He takes a break. (Mark 12.41-44) Herod's Temple complex covered dozens of acres, and on this Passover week it would have been crammed with tens if not hundreds of thousands of people. Leaving one of the larger courtyards Jesus and His Apostles headed away from the hustle and bustle for the relative quiet of the Court of the Women. Lining the sides of this court were 13 trumpet shaped collection boxes marked with various titles such as incense, wood, past neglect, etc. It was beside one of these 13 treasuries that Jesus pauses to rest, and in one of the few quiet moments He will have today He solemnly watches as people cast money into them.
          Knowing the rabbinical predilection for rules it should not surprise us that they had a required minimum for an offering. It was a mite. This was a small coin that represented the equivalent of 1/366th of an average day's wage. The equivalent in twenty first century America is 34 cents.
Resting there, Jesus observes a certain poor widow cast in two mites. Though a tiny amount in the big scheme of things it represented all her living. All morning Jesus has been fighting with a generation of vipers. How refreshing it must have been to Him to find such great faith and love to God still present somewhere amongst His people on that awful day!
Elijah Receiving Bread From the Widow of
Zarephath, Giovanni Lanfranco, 1624
We honor God when give Him, without reserve, everything we have. The widow of Zaraphath is a tremendous example of this. (I Kings 17.10-13) Elijah was directed to go to her and instructed that she would provide for his physical needs. However when he arrived she was preparing a couple of sticks to build a fire in order to cook one last meal for herself and her son. In spite of this dire situation Elijah rudely demands that she feed him first – and she does. And the Lord greatly honors her faith.
In both of these stories concerning two different widows we see great faith in God and a great love for God. And we see that God honors those who honor Him.
This is about money, certainly, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also. And He is after our heart. But it is about so much more than money. It is about giving Him, without reservation, everything we have and are.

What are you holding back? 

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