Summary: A sermon in the character of an observer who was seeing the events that unfolded in Mark 12:38-44, where he see the difference between the religious rulers and the widow, and we explore not only what this means for us but what this story reveals about God.
I will never forget that day.
I was sitting near the back waiting to worship and out of the corner of my eye I could the one everyone was talking about.
This is the one who was challenging some of the religious authorities, not with violence but with love and something called grace.
And there were many people following him, 12 men seemed especially close to him. And they were with him that day.
He was getting a bit of a reputation. He was known for telling some wise stories, performing unbelievable miracles, healing people, and mixing with some undesirables. You could tell some highly respected people weren’t too impressed with him. They kept spreading rumours about him, suggesting he was blaspheming God and that he and his followers were just troublemakers.
So, when I turned around and saw him, I couldn’t believe it. He had come to the place I where I worshipped and he wasn’t sitting that far from me. You know what, if I knew he was coming today I would have dressed up. I might even had, had a haircut and I would definitely had been at church before it started. What would you have done if you knew Jesus was coming here today?
As he sat, he seemed to be watching everyone intently, interested in who was coming in.
And that day, like most times we gathered for worship, there were some interesting characters coming to worship.
The first lot of characters were some religious teachers who you couldn’t help noticing as they walked through the door. They made quite a scene. Some people almost bowed for them, others wanted to make sure they were seen by them. They had the best of clothes on, some long flowing glamourous robes. They walked in the place making sure everyone knew they were important. They greeted many of the other important people, but tried avoiding people like me or Jesus. It was like we weren’t good enough for them. But not only that, they loved attacking the venerable and those who couldn’t stand up for themselves, pointing out all their faults and how they are not living up to their expectations or God’s standards. There was one young woman whose husband had recently passed away from a long illness, and you would think they would have some compassion for her, but no. They were more concerned that she met her responsibilities, how she was dressed and that now her husband had passed away she could get back to contributing to society. These religious rulers had a bit of a reputation you know they often made a big fuss about how much money they were putting in the offering bowl, how they weren’t as bad as everyone else and there prayers would be full of flowery language and go on for ever.
It felt like that these religious leaders only wanted a relationship with God for their own selfish benefit.
Have you ever met anyone like that? Despite all their elegance and glamour, they don’t seem very real or caring, do they?
And it got me thinking. Have there been times in my life when I have been like that?
Have there been times when I’ve wanted to be the centre of attention?
Have there been times when I thought I was a little better than some others?
Have there been times when I have used people, without thinking how it might be hurting them?
I remember Jesus saying on another occasion, that many of those who put themselves first on this earth will find themselves last in the Kingdom of God, and many who find themselves last on this earth will be first in God’s kingdom, you can read about this occasion in Mark chapter 10.
Well, when Jesus was looking at these religious leaders, he didn’t seem too impressed. I overheard him saying to his close disciples, “that the religious leaders have misunderstood what God is on about and their actions and attitude wasn’t pleasing to God at all, and they were too worried about what others thought of them.
But shortly after this the real surprise of the day came. A little old lady came to worship. She came in without any fanfare. She almost went unnoticed except that she was by herself and her clothes were in fashion 10 to 20 years ago. She emptied her purse in the offering bowling and all that dropped in were two very small coins. I don’t think you could buy much with what went in there, not even a loaf of bread. And we discovered later that she gave everything she had, wow what trust, how generous is that? And Jesus noticed her, and as he watched her a smile came on his face. It was as if he was pleased for her to be here, even though others seemed to ignore or not even want her here.