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Summary: The Temple maintained a public fund for charity, out of which money was available for helping the poor. People would bring their gift and place it in one of the thirteen trumpet-shaped containers. Each was labeled for a specific use.

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Jerusalem

A Lesson on Giving

Mark 12:41-44(Focal Passage), Luke 21:1-4, (Lev. 27:30)

Mark 12:41-44

41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.

42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.

43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;

44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

Before this, Jesus was teaching the people about the hypocrisy of the scribes. He described them as lusting for recognition, seeking the best positions, and stealing from the helpless, while pretending to be religious. Listen as I read Mark 12:38–40.

The story within our text is also found in Luke’s gospel. It is recorded twice, to teach us two important lessons concerning giving:

First: That showing charity to the poor is a fundamental feature of the Christian religion. Our Lord Jesus used many occasions to commend it and recommend it. He had just mentioned the heartlessness of the scribes, who swindle poor widows out of their homes, and perhaps this story is designed to show the charity of one such poor widow.

Second: That Jesus Christ has his eye on us, because He wants to know what we give to the poor, and what we contribute to works of goodness and charity. Although Christ was absorbed in his preaching, He looked up, to see what gifts were cast into the treasury.

This passage is Christ’s commendation of the poor widow who cast two mites into the treasury, which our Savior, busy as he was in preaching, found the time to take notice of her gift.

41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.

Paraphrase: Now, Jesus “sat down” opposite the treasury, which consisted of thirteen trumpet-shaped containers called trumpets, due to their shape. He watched attentively as many people voluntarily contributed or paid a yearly tax used for the upkeep of the Temple and to provide for the poor. The common people came with the money they could afford to give without creating a hardship for them. Also present was the wealthy religious leaders and Jerusalem’s leading men who made a show of giving large amounts of money.

The Temple maintained a public fund for charity, out of which money was available for helping the poor. People would bring their gift and place it in one of the thirteen trumpet-shaped containers. Each was labeled for a specific use, and donations were made accordingly. They were similar to what we call “poor boxes.” The Temple was full of the loud clanging sound of metal on metal made by coins as they were cast into one of the containers. The Temple was the best place for contributing to help the poor, because works of charity and religious acts go well together. Where God is honored by our worship, it is fitting that He should be honored by the relief of His poor; and we often find prayers and alms together, as in Acts 10:2, 4—“a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” It is good that there are organizations like the Salvation Army, United Way and Goodwill that help the poor. In addition, most churches have budgeted money for giving to the poor. It is good for those whom God has blessed financially to give to the poor, as God has prospered them—“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper…” (1 Co. 16:2).Here Paul recommends that they have something ready to give when an object of charity offers itself.


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