Summary: This is about the widow’s offering, and what significance really is.
Mark 12:41-45 – What Matters Most
Today I’d like to speak to you on the issue of significance. As we continue to look at The Life of Jesus, there is an incident towards the end of His natural life that paints a picture of what significance is, and what it isn’t. This is a message that I have preached before, but I felt that it was worth looking at again. As my pastor friend Denn Guptill says, “If it’s worth preaching once, it’s worth preaching again.” Let’s read Mark 12:41-45.
You know, so often we are belittled by others. We are often made to feel small by people who think that they are somehow better than we are, or stronger than we are, or smarter than we are, or something like that. The author and speaker Tony Campolo one time told a story about his wife Peggy, a stay-at-home mom and housewife. Mr. Campolo used to be on the faculty for the University of Pennsylvania, and there were frequent gatherings when the university faculty members would bring their spouses and socialize.
Inevitably, Peggy would be asked by a faculty member or another spouse, “And what is it that do you, dear?” Peggy would reply, “I am socializing two homo sapiens in the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition in order that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the theologically prescribed utopia inherent in the eschaton.” In other words, she was raising 2 kids with Christian values to make a difference for God in the world.
Then, she would ask, “And what do you do?” Whatever the other person said would just sound small compared to the dignity Peggy Campolo gave to her role as mother and wife.
So what is significance? What matters? What is important? Am I important? Does what I do matter? Let’s look at those questions today from our Bible passage.
Today’s short story simply retells Jesus describing a small event in the last week of His life. What’s interesting is that Mark takes the time to record it. Matthew doesn’t, and neither does John. John, who spent the most time recording Jesus’ words, didn’t write these ones down. And Mark, the shortest of the Gospels, usually jam-packed with miracles and healings and stories, records this teaching of Jesus. Mark considered it important enough to put into his short book. So between Jesus’ last teachings including this, and Mark including this, I really believe there’s something there for us.
Three simple thoughts about significance are found in this story. #1 – Significance may have a small audience – v41. Jesus alone was watching. Then, He called the disciples to look, too. Only Jesus in all the world saw what the widow did.
You see, in the Temple, there were 13 trumpet-shaped boxes designated for different offerings: for destitute children, for the poor, for the Temple, and so on. Wealthy religious folk wanted attention when they gave offerings. They wanted people to know what they were doing. But no one ever noticed the poor doing it. There was no fanfare. There were no trumpets blaring. It went unnoticed. Yet, Jesus saw, and He called His disciples to look and learn from it, too.
You have to know that Jesus sees what you do. I don’t say that as a scare tactic, though it can be used as such. No, I say it to let you know that even if nobody else notices the good that you do, Jesus does. Even if nobody else cares about the small things you do because they are the right things to do, Jesus does. Jesus sees you in all you do. He’s watching, even if no one else ever will.
So take heart. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” What you do is not in vain. It is not pointless. It is not meaningless. It matters to God, even if nobody else will ever set eyes upon it.
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” You will reap what you sow – that is, what you plant, you will grow. If you do things to please God, that’s what you will do – please God. Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. It has its costs. But the costs of not pleasing God are a lot higher than the costs of pleasing God. So it’s worth it to live to do the right thing, no matter how hard, no matter how unnoticed.
Your life may have a small audience, but in the end it’s the only audience that matters.