Summary: what Jesus uses to judge our gifts
April 29, 2001 Mark 12:41-44
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
When I was in the fourth grade or so, my parents bought me an Iwo Jima army set. It was one of the neatest gifts I have ever received. It had all kinds of tan Japanese soldiers, a couple of army turrets in the side of a hill, tanks, bazookas and everything else to make up a real nice war scene. I had hours and hours of fun with this toy. We would set up the Americans verses the Japanese, and then take rubber bands and try to knock down the other guy’s army.
Did you ever receive a gift like that - something that you could never forget? It’s kind of funny - because those real memorable gifts aren’t always the most expensive or the fanciest - but for some reason they have special meaning to you. Isn’t that something we’d all like to do for God - to give him a gift that would really catch his attention - that would mean something to him - something He’d never forget. Do you think that your gifts to God really grab His attention? Does it matter to you? It’s a concept we’re going to think about today, as we consider the fact that -
The Greatest Giver Judges Our Gifts
I. He looks into our hearts and evaluates what we’re thinking
Several days before he died Jesus sat down in the outer courtyard of the beautiful temple in Jerusalem, opposite the place where Jewish worshipers placed their offerings, “and watched.” From the kind of verb that was used, we can tell that this was an ongoing observing - Jesus was watching with a purpose. You might compare it to when we might occasionally go to mall - and just sit down and watch people. It’s kind of fun. You see people walk by of all makes and sizes and you wonder to yourself, “I wonder where he came from? I wonder what he does for a living.” It’s intriguing. In a sense, that is what Jesus was doing - He was observing people. The only difference is that Jesus didn’t have to think, “I wonder what he does?”, etc., because he KNEW. As true God, he could look into a person’s heart and be able to tell everything about the people he was watching.
As Jesus sat there watching, He noticed two sorts of things. Many well-to-do worshipers placed large sums of money into the offering receptacles. You could almost hear the clanking of the coins on the bottom of the receptacle - the big bags of money being brought up and dumped into the offering plate. You would think that these kinds of offerings would make Jesus say, “wow - now there’s a real believer!” But what was it that moved Jesus to speak up? It was the offering of a poor widow! Mark says, a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. When Jesus saw this lady’s offering - it moved him to praise her. How do you figure that?
Remember, first of all, that Jesus was able to look into her HEART. He could see the motivation behind WHY she was coming. If you think about it - from a worldly point of view - she didn’t have much to be thankful for - did she. She may have dreamed of growing old with her husband - saving up some money and retiring on a hillside in northern Jerusalem. But what happened? Her husband died - and she was left with NOTHING - only able to live day by day. So what was it that drove her to give offerings to the Lord?
Since this lady came to the temple, I think it is safe to say that she was a Jew - a member of God’s covenant people of Israel - the nation that God called “the people I formed for myself, that they may proclaim my praise” (Is 43:21). Therefore, she had heard God’s voice speaking from the pages of the Old Testament - and recognized that she had a special privilege that no other nation had. As one of God’s people she was a part of the ONLY nation to whom God had revealed His ancient secrets. What were those secrets? That God would send a great Champion through the bloodline of Abraham and David - to deliver a world full of people lost in sin. Every time she saw a blood sacrifice get offered on that big seven foot altar in the middle of the temple - she knew that God would some day send a Substitute to be slaughtered for HER sins! When Jesus saw her heart, He could tell that she loved Him for making her a part of His family - for promising her a Savior - for assuring her that she was a forgiven child of God. She was thankful for what God had done for her - and so out of thanks - she gave her offering.