Markby Robert M. Solomon
After a tiring time dealing with His opponents, Jesus sat down in the temple. But notice where He sat-in front of the offering box! (v. 41). Imagine Jesus doing this in church today.
There were 13 trumpet-shaped metal receptacles (Shopharoth) present for people to deposit their temple offerings. Coins tossed inside (there was no paper money yet) would make quite a bit of noise, attracting attention, especially if a rich man unloaded a large bag of them-a few at a time-just to impress others. The Greek text indicates that Jesus closely observed what was going on. There are ″many rich people [who] threw in large amounts″ (v. 41).
But Jesus drew attention to a poor widow who ″put in two very small copper coins″ (v. 42). This was a meagre sum. Naturally no one had taken any notice of her, except Jesus, who was impressed. He declared that the widow had given more than all the rest, more than all of their gifts combined! Imagine a huge pile of offerings holding down one end of a balance scale, only to be outweighed by two tiny coins! This suggests that heaven keeps its ledgers differently from the world. As William Hendriksen puts it, in Jesus' estimate, ″the two copper coins were sparkling diamonds″.9
This widow was possibly one of those who had been ″devoured″ by the hypocritical and evil teachers of the law (v. 40). Widows at this time were nobodies and had no social security. This woman probably had to beg on the street for the coins. She could have kept at least one of the coins for herself, it would not have made any real difference, but she didn't. Instead, she had given both to God.
This woman's gift became the best-known offering to God in church history! An insignificant amount in the eyes of the world, and yet in God's sight a most remarkable gift. She had given ″everything-all she had to live on″ (v. 44). With no resources, she flung herself on God's mercy. She gave to express her faith in God, love for Him, and commitment to Him. She would rather offer herself to God and die, than cling on to a couple of coins and try to survive on her own.
9William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Mark (Edinburg: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975).
Why is how we give as important, if not more important than what we give? What is the difference between giving out of wealth and giving out of poverty? How can you apply this truth in your own life?
Why is Jesus so interested in our giving? What does this reveal about our hearts and quality of discipleship? What is the connection between giving and faith, and love and commitment? Pray about applying these lessons in your own life.