And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. — Mark 12:43-44
Hattie May Wiatt was a young girl who lived in the city of Philadelphia during the 1880s. She came from a poor family and lived in one of numerous tenement buildings in the city. She wanted to attend Sunday school, but the church near her home was small and the area where the Sunday school was conducted held only a limited number of children. Week after week, many of the neighborhood children were turned away because there was no room.
One Sunday, the pastor of the church noticed Hattie May standing at the gate wondering whether to go back home or wait and see if there would be space for her later. The pastor felt compassion for her, and personally ushered her into Sunday school and found a place for her. The next day, the pastor saw Hattie May on her way to school and told her that one day they would have enough money to build a Sunday school room large enough for all of the children.
Some time later, Hattie May fell ill and died. Her parents asked the caring pastor to handle the funeral arrangements. After the service, Hattie May’s mother gave the pastor a little purse with fifty-seven cents in it and told him that Hattie May had been saving the money to help build a bigger church.
The pastor was touched by Hattie May’s desire to help children attend Sunday school, and he challenged the deacons and congregation to come up with a way to raise the money for a bigger church. He took fifty-seven pennies, representing Hattie May’s contribution, and sold them individually, raising $250. Fifty-four of the fifty-seven pennies were returned with the contributions. Then, as word spread throughout the community, a realtor offered to sell a parcel of land to the church with a down payment of only fifty-four cents. Within five years, Hattie May’s gift had resulted in new church and Sunday school buildings.
In our text, Jesus had been observing people as they put money into the treasury. He knew that even though many of them cast in large amounts, they gave out of their abundance and not sacrificially from the heart. The poor widow woman gave two mites, the equivalent of half a cent. Even though she gave far less than other contributors, Jesus told His disciples that she had given more because she had given all she had — an example of sacrificial giving.
It is essential that we give our offerings and time to the Lord out of a heart and attitude of love and obedience. If we do, God will be pleased that we are giving our best in service to Him regardless of the amount.
During the week preceding Jesus’ crucifixion, the religious leaders were trying to force Jesus to make an unpopular statement by asking hard questions. When they finally refrained from asking Jesus any more questions, He took the opportunity to question the scribes concerning their teachings about the Messiah. The scribes taught that the Messiah would come as a prominent political man who would be a descendant of David. However, they neglected to explain what David meant in Psalm 110:1 when, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he called the Son of David his “Lord,” which was not a term he would have used if he were talking about a descendant. Jesus was making the point that He was not only a descendant of David, but He was Christ, the Son of God.
After Jesus had pointed out the errors of the teachings of the scribes, He warned the common people to be wary of their hypocrisy. By Jesus’ time, the influence of the scribes had grown significantly, and they used their authority for dishonest conduct. They took pride in parading around in their scholarly clothing, and valued themselves above the general population. They loved the applause they received, and they chose the most important seats in the synagogues and the most honorable rooms at feasts, with disregard for anyone else. Some of them used their great influence to intimidate or persuade widows to hand over management of their property, and the scribes would in turn charge excessive fees or extort the property for personal gain. To cover their greedy ways, they made long prayers in public places to try to convince the people that they were pious. Jesus warned that because of their hypocrisy, their damnation would be greater than if they had not made any pretense.
After Jesus’ controversial conversation with His opponents, He began to observe the people as they came into the Temple with their offerings. The Temple treasury was located in the Women’s Court and consisted of thirteen receptacles shaped as trumpets. Nine of the receptacles were for the receipt of what the worshipers lawfully owed, and four were specifically for freewill offerings. As Jesus scrutinized the givers, He was aware of the amount they gave and how it related to their status in life. When the widow threw in her meager amount, Jesus knew she gave it from the bottom of her heart and depended on God to supply her needs. He told His disciples that her offering was worth more than all of the others that had been given dutifully out of the givers’ abundance.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VI. The presentation and rejection of the Son of God
F. The instruction of the Son of God
1. Concerning Himself, Israel’s Christ (12:35-37)
a. His human descent (12:35)
b. His deity (12:36-37)
2. Concerning the error of the scribes (12:38-44)
a. Condemnation of their practices (12:38-40)
b. Commendation of the humble widow (12:41-44)
When we give of our best to the Master in offerings, time, and talents, He will be pleased with what we have offered, and He will use it for His glory.