Summary: The incident of the Widow’s mite took place during Jesus last week in Jerusalem. He had few opportunities to reinforce the teachings He felt were most critical for His disciples. So why use this woman as His object lesson?
TEXT: Luke 20:45-21:4 TITLE: Desperately In Love With God
OPEN: Several years ago, I read the story of an 87 year old woman named Oselola McCarty. She had spent her life working 12 hour days doing other people’s laundry. That’s why people were amazed when she generously donated $150,000 to establish a scholarship fund at the University of Southern Mississippi. What’s even more amazing is that this gift represented only 60% of her total life savings of about $250,000.
When asked how she did it, she simply said that she lived modestly, saved regularly and gave generously (in other words, she’d regularly gave to causes she believed in).
APPLY: Now, how did she do that? How did manage to save a quarter of a million dollars over her lifetime? Well, she did it by deciding to live her life in a specific way. She structured her wants & her needs so that she could reach a specific goal. And because she lived like that, she was able to be generous beyond all expectations.
But as impressive as her story is, as impressive as it was for her to save $250,000 and to give away $150,000… it pales in comparison to this woman that’s described here in Luke. Oselola gave away a huge amount of money - but she still had 100,000 in the bank.
This woman in Luke basically had two coins to rub together… and she gave both of them to God. And when she was done with her donation…
she didn’t have $100,000 left over
she didn’t have $100 left over
she didn’t have 100 pennies left
… she had nothing.
But we’ll back to her in a moment. First I want to give a little background on our story today.
Jesus is now in Jerusalem for His final Passover.
The day before, He entered into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the crowds lined the streets with palm branches shouting
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"
"Blessed is the King of Israel"
This is the FINAL WEEK of His life.
And many scholars believe this was the last full day of teaching that Jesus shared with disciples. The entire day seems to be filled with questions asked of Him by disciples and others.
Now, Jesus is in the temple.
It helps to understand the setting.
The Temple area was divided into 4 sections
(at this point, we put up Temple graphics on the screen from http://www.ccthomasville.org/ study aids)
The first of thoe 4 sectinos was called "the court of the Gentiles." This was a large area where non-Jews were allowed to enter... but they could go no further under pain of death.
The 2nd area was entered From a set of steps that led to wall with a large gate called the “Gate Beautiful” or the “Gate Susan”. Thru this gate, you would enter the women’s court (Jewish men and women could both enter here, but this was as far women could go to approach the temple proper in their worship).
Beyond this was a third area called "the court of Israel" where Jewish men could gather for worship.
And lastly, beyond this was the "court of the Priests" where the altar of sacrifice and the Temple itself stood. Only priests were allowed in this area.
It was in the “women’s court” that the Temple treasury was housed. Along the wall were 13 treasure boxes with mouths shaped like trumpets. And each of these treasure boxes had a specific designation.
1. According to Alfred Edersheim, several of the boxes were for mandatory temple offerings, where a person could place the monetary equivalent of their burnt offerings and sin offerings. If you didn’t have money for the bull or goat or sheep required in that offering, you could give an equivalent amount of money instead into these boxes.
2. Another set of boxes were for the ½ shekel Temple tax.
3. There were a couple of boxes dedicated to contributions to help purchase wood and incense for the Temple sacrifices.
4. And there was a box dedicated to offerings used to teach the children of poor families.
My suspicion is, it was into this last box that the poor woman gave her gift.
Now, understand… she didn’t have to give this gift to God. In fact, she couldn’t really afford to give this gift.
She’s a widow.
Her husband had died some time ago and she apparently had no children to take care of her.
And the Bible tells us she was a “poor” widow.
The word used in the Gospel of Mark indicates she was destitute… reduced to begging, asking for alms along the street.
She had no home, she had no possessions.
The only thing she seems to own were the clothing she has on her back.