Mar 6 2013 - Mark 12:38-13:13 – She … put in everything
The Jewish leaders have now given up trying to trap Jesus in his own words. The last one to try went away acknowledging that Jesus had answered wisely and well.
But Jesus has not finished with his comments on the Jewish leaders. Speaking to the crowd who had gathered around him in the Temple courts, Jesus tells them to beware of the spirit that dominates these leaders. They love to parade around in their long robes, to be recognised, greeted and treated with honour. Many of them are devoted to a proud outward show of piety rather than the cultivation of a humble, contrite heart.
Jesus and his disciples were now sitting opposite the spot where people were putting their gifts into the Temple treasury box. Many who were well off made a show of throwing a large amount of money into the box. A poor widow then put in two small copper coins. Her gift seemed insignificant compared to the riches others had given and probably went entirely unnoticed by most of those in the Temple. But it did not go unnoticed by Jesus. He pointed her out to his disciples and said that she had given more than all the rest. “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44).
As I read these words, I could not help thinking that Jesus was just days from his death. Jesus came into this world not just to share some of the excess of his riches with those in need. He came not in a proud show of glory, looking for recognition and admiration. He humbled himself and gave everything for us; he laid down his life for us. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). And Jesus calls us to follow him; to devote all we are and have to the service of our God and for the blessing of others. It’s a big call.
Do you recall the time when David had taken a census of the Israelites. It was an act of pride that angered the Lord and brought a plague that resulted in the deaths of 70,000 people. David wanted to build an altar and seek God’s forgiveness and plead that the plague might stop. He asks to buy the threshing floor of Araunah as a place to build an altar and make his sacrifice. Araunah offers to give the king his threshing floor and oxen for a burnt offering and their wooden yokes and threshing sledges as fuel for the offering. But David will not accept them as a gift. He tells Araunah, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). David recognises that the Lord calls for costly worship – for whole-life obedience and service.
I am aware that all too often I am like the rich who threw their gold or silver into the treasury. It’s easy to feel that we have given a great deal to the cause of the kingdom when what we have given has cost us little; we have given what we can spare; we have given what we do not really miss. It’s easy to make a show of following Jesus.
Lord Jesus, keep me from making a show of discipleship. You have given yourself for my redemption; help me to follow you in giving all I have for the furtherance of your kingdom and the glory of your name. Help me to be open-handed in my service of you, recognising that I have nothing which has not first been given to me. Keep me from cheap devotion.