Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Parallel Text: Luke 21:1-4
Chapter 12 has been a chapter of battle with Jesus prevailing over three waves of attack. The battle takes the form of a verbal combat between two different value systems, but the more important reality about all of this is our discernment of the fact that the real fight wasn’t a verbal one, but a spiritual one between two opposing powers.
In the last section, Mark 12:35-40, Jesus took the offensive against His real foe, and pronounced God’s coming final judgment on the Enemy, and as I mentioned last time, Matthew really brings this divine judgment into focus in Matthew 23. Here in these few verses, we see the very same spiritual forces at work vying for the hearts of men and women, even though no one speaks. Jesus did not speak to any crowd, but spoke only privately as a Master speaks to His disciples.
Consider the parallels between the wealthy folks here, tossing large amounts of coinage into the pots, clanking loudly so that everyone can see their display of worldly position and success as they part with tiny fractions of their incomes in a demonstration of “piety,” with the Pharisees, Sadducees, priests and teachers of the law and their flowing fancy garments, arrogance and false demonstrations of “piety.” Contrast all of this with the poor widow who gives everything she has to God.
To an onlooker, the situation of the “pious” well to do seems to show great favor from God, but it is only outward and worldly, thus it may not be of God at all, for He is not impressed by the outward grandeur of this world.
No! The poor widow is the one who has received God’s favor! She isn’t playing the world’s game, and so she may be poor in worldly terms, but she is rich in faith, a faith that will see her through hard times and ensure her place in eternity while all of those who so value their worldly positions suffer the consequences for their foolish and selfish behavior.
This chapter was not written, in my view, to show us that Jesus was smarter than the other guys, nor was it written to show us that He was a better debater. It was written to instill in us the truth that Jesus came to establish a whole new kind of kingdom, one that is not of this world, one that is in opposition to this world. It was written so that we might understand that if we intend to follow Jesus, our attitudes must change, our priorities must change, and that in our daily lives this world needs to decrease and His Kingdom increase. In order for this to take place, we must let go of the notion that Jesus will someday return to establish a kingdom in and of this world, for His Kingdom in not, has never been and never will be of this world.
Yes, and this is very good news!