This widow does something so radical that it’s really hard to grasp.
She gave everything she had.
If I’m reading this text right, she didn’t have something squirrelled away in a snuff box under her bed for really tough times.
Her savings account and safety deposit box down at Jerusalem’s Bank & Trust were empty.
She had two almost worthless copper coins to her name, and she gave them both.
In a world without a government or social fall-back plan, she gave it all.
Amazing story . . . you’ve probably read it before, but read it again, slowly, reflectively:
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:41-44).
Some scholars even argue that this story couldn’t have happened, because Jesus never would’ve commended someone for such reckless giving.
But we know it happened.
We just don’t know exactly what to do with it.
One thing we do is what we do with the story of the rich young ruler who was told to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor.
We talk about what it doesn’t mean.
Surely, we say, Jesus didn’t intend for believers in every place in every age to give every last cent to God.
And of course we’d be right. Jesus doesn’t teach that here or anywhere.
But here’s what he does—he commends this poverty-stricken widow for having enough faith to give everything she had, knowing God would care for her needs.
Practically speaking, I’m not sure what that means to you and me.
I don’t think Jesus means that we should empty our checking and savings accounts every Sunday when the collection plate goes down our aisle.
But here’s one thing I’m pretty sure he means: if we’re only giving out of our surplus, then we’re not where he wants us to be.
If times get tough and we cut our contribution before we cut our satellite TV package, we might have a priority problem.
Here, as elsewhere, Jesus isn’t particularly concerned about amounts. What this woman gave amounted to 1/32 of a denarius, and a denarius was how much a day laborer earned in one day. In other words, she gave about what a blue collar guy could earn in about 15 minutes.
It was nothing.
But it was everything.
This story hits close to home.
As the Lord has done so often in his ministry, he asks us to look into our hearts and ask ourselves about commitment.
This story isn’t about money, and it’s not about how much you’ll put in the plate Sunday.
It’s about faith and how much we’ve all truly bought into walking with Christ.
He wants our 401(k)s, our annuities, our mutual funds, but that’s not really what he wants.
He wants our Sundays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays, but again—that’s not really it.
He wants us.
He wants us to love and trust him enough to know that if we truly surrender ourselves to him, he’ll take care of us.
That’s what this widow had in her heart and what we need in ours.
Total trust. Complete commitment. Absolute sacrifice.