Jesus had just encountered the scribes as He was teaching in the temple complex. (Mark 12:35-40) These religious leaders were very prideful. These arrogant leaders demanded presence. When they walked into a room the waters were to part and give way for their holiness to shine above everyone else. Yes, these holy heathens thought they were above reproach and were to be regarded with a holy respect.
They had forgotten they too were servants of God. They were to be humble and not self-seeking. But self-seeking is exactly what they were about. Can you picture them in their fancy garments that made them feel like royalty? These men even shared special seats of honor in the temple. They set themselves apart and above everyone else.
"As He was going out of the temple complex, one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!" Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!" Mark 13:1-2
Jesus is here in the temple complex with the disciples. The disciples are finding themselves in awe of the grandeur of these buildings. The temple treasury had thirteen trumpet-shaped treasure boxes according to the Talmud. They were located in the court of women. Archaeologists have found these massive stones of the temple court. Some are forty-two feet long and weigh over one million pounds. Ponder that for a minute. This was a place that would knock your socks off and make your neck sore from looking up at the beauty in these buildings.
"He looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins. "I tell you the truth," He said. "This poor widow has put in more than all of them. For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on." Luke 21:1-4
Here in the midst of all the diamonds and pearls is a woman that shines far greater than any in this complex. She's hidden from all those focused on themselves, but there her Savior sees her. The temple treasury is placed in the court for women so she could have easily walked in unnoticed. Did she feel unnoticed or did she feel everyone there was watching her? This woman, a widow, is among the poorest of poor. She isn't even counted worthy to those around her. She isn't walking in and seeing friends reach out and embrace her. She is alone. My heart breaks for her. I wish I were there to walk with her and to be her friend. Don't you? At least that's what I hope I would do. Maybe I would be like the holy heathens and stand in stare mode, wondering what on earth someone like her was doing in the temple. May God forgive us.
We do that, you know. We have all been at church when a 'sinner' walks in and all eyes turn. Sure, we can pretend that never happens, but in our heart of hearts we know better. We look at those who are different and we wonder about them. We may smile, but once in our cars we are sure to ask our husband, "Did you see that woman who sat in the corner of church today?"
This woman came, entered the temple in all of her humbleness and beauty, and placed her two coins in the treasury box. These coins weren't made of gold. They didn't catch the eye of the one standing next to her. But there was her Jesus who had seen her every move. Can you see Him watching her with much love and gentleness? Two tiny coins. The smallest currency in Palestine. One coin is valued at about 1/8 of a cent. Today we would say that she didn't have much more than two nickles to rub together. In fact, she had much less than even that.
"If anyone has this world's goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need-how can God's love reside in him? Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action." 1 John 3:17-18
This woman was giving what she didn't have to give. This was all. There was no more in her pantry. This is what she had to live on for the time. What would tomorrow bring for her? Was she worried about tomorrow? Maybe she wasn't like us at all. Maybe her faith was so great, she knew her Savior would provide. He had already been providing for her. Praise Jesus! The pondering that captivates my thoughts is simple beauty.
"But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6
Her trifle gift was more than all others in the temple had given. They didn't give beyond their surplus. They were full and proud. She had nothing to her name. At least that's what the world would say. But I see her as so much more than those two coins. I see her as the woman who trusts and believes beyond her own comprehension. I see her as loving Jesus and giving until it hurts.
"Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart-not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
So often we have misplaced desires and wrong motives. We give when others can see. There are many motives for giving. One of them is that it just makes us feel good. We tend to give what we no longer want or need. Hmm. Does that hit you hard too? We should be giving when no else is watching. We should be giving until it hurts. God knows the heart of the giver. Giving is such a precious gift and so often we make it ugly because we turn it around and make it about us.
"Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27
When I read about this precious woman I see the love of Jesus flowing through her. She was willing to give beyond herself, reach in and dig deep, when she knew the well was dry. But there is much more to the well that this woman was drinking from. She knew her Savior and His well never went dry. He would always provide for her just as He always had. My friends, that is deep faith. A faith that is lived beyond all measure of this world's comprehension. May we learn from her beauty. Giving is priceless when it comes from the heart.