Summary: This series is based upon Mike Yaconelli’s book "Messy Spirituality" and is designed to convince seekers that God wants their Nitty Griity lives
June 22-23, 2002
“Nitty Gritty…Livin’ Large”
It is a mild Sabbath morning in the Palestinian City of Jerusalem. The sun has not yet risen to full strength, and yet people are already lined up all the way down the dusty road which leads to the Holy Temple. Smoke is in the air because of the animals that have already been sacrificed and burned on the altar. And in that slow moving line, there are rich and poor alike, carrying with them the offerings that are to be presented for the Lord God Jehovah. The line leads to a small square room lined with metal collection boxes. The boxes have metal horns extending out of them, to receive the offerings of the people. As you can imagine, the coins make a constant clanging noise as they are cast into the receptacles.
Most of the people shuffling along, quickly make their donation, and move on. But one person, who has already given His offering, stands over in the corner with His disciples. And notice that it DOES NOT SAY that Jesus is watching WHAT everyone is giving but rather “HOW the people put money into the treasury.” Of course, also in the room, supervising the money boxes, are several priests. As the wealthy citizens pass by and make loud clanging noises by virtue of their many coins, they seem to draw favored glances. Many seem quite impressed at the generosity of those who cast an abundance of big, heavy coins into the boxes. And it is not surprise that no one pays particular attention to one frail, little lady
who enters the room.
Only one person sees her, and that is the One who sees all. But
she nonetheless stops at the collection terminal. She then reaches into a tiny bag and carefully draws out 2 rather insignificant coins -- mites, the smallest currency used by the Romans. She tosses both of these lightweight coins into the big metal box, but their faint click is drowned out by the heavy clanking of more substantial coins made by the wealthy patrons. So, no one notices her. After all, what difference would her two
tiny tokens make?
But Jesus is impressed. He is so impressed that he singles this woman out to the entire multitude and cheerfully confesses that her offerings are more important that those made by men of wealth and prestige. And he recognizes her seemingly uneventful giving by telling the disciples and by having this episode permanently recorded both in the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke, insuring HER a place in history!
After reading about this event, we might wonder, “Why was Jesus so impressed with the widow who gave her two mites?” What was it that caused him to stop and single her out of the crowd? Why did he honor her minute gift so proudly and publicly? For years you have probably heard this story only in the context of giving. Statements have rained down about the woman’s sacrifice and therefore we are all called to sacrifice. The poor little woman gave all that she had, while the wealthy gave a lot but not everything!
Her story is not dramatic, revolutionary, significant or amazing. Her is the story of a woman whom no one notices and worse, whom no one even cares to notice. In her world she is just part of the landscape. She is just another blurry figure in the background of the photo on the 3rd page of section D in the local paper. Yet, she is a faithful blur. She is the one who loves God daily and lives God every hour of that day. She doesn’t care if she is noticed, she cares whether God is noticed. Jesus understood this type of life all too well.
Because we all know the glorious end of the glorious story of Jesus Christ we have let ourselves fall captive to the prevailing notion about how significant the ministry of Jesus was…in Jesus’ day. Because we have heard the biblical stories over and over again we have exaggerated the actual size of Jesus’ tiny ministry. There were crowds but he always was trying to avoid them. Jesus’ ministry lasted a scant three years and he really didn’t do a whole lot in the context of news and events even of his day. I like the condensation, the Reader’s Digest version of his ministry, that I found some time ago, it went like this. He hung around with a few guys, healed a leper or two and a couple of lame folk and a blind guy, made some wine, helped out three or four women, raised one person from the dead, calmed down a crazy person or two, caused a scene in a temple, got himself publically executed as a criminal then disappeared.