Wednesday is a bit of an odd day in the chronology of the Holy Week. Some believe Jesus was silent on this day, preparing for what was about to come. Others believe Jesus continued teaching on Wednesday, just as he had done on Tuesday. I will presume the latter for our purposes.
Some of the topics Jesus covers include:
- Paying taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17)
- Marriage after the resurrection (Mark 12:18-27)
- The Great Commandment – to love God with everything and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-34)
- A widow’s contribution commended (Mark 12:35-44)
- Doomsday Deceivers (Mark 13:1-20)
- Timing of His second coming (Mark 13:21-37)
Because we are investigating his sacrilegious moments, I want to gaze into Mark 12:38-44 and the story of the widow’s contribution at the temple. Jesus points out several things about religious scholars that ought to bring alert – academic prowess, head places at church tables. They all want to look good to those watching, but behind the scenes they exploit the weak and the helpless. Again, Jesus comes against religion in the way he as so often done – when the strong take advantage of the week.
His attention is drawn across the room where people were giving their offerings. He watched as rich people paraded their giving in front of everyone. His gaze fixed on a poor widow who solemnly approached the giving box and dropped in two small coins – nothing of “significance.” This woman captivated the attention and the affection of Jesus. He calls his disciples over and tells them,
“The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford – she gave her all.”
Wow. Throughout Jesus ministry, he has steered us away from self-centered, appearance-based religion. Even in his last 48 hours he continues to teach this to his disciples. It’s not just about Sundays. It’s not just about giving 10%. It’s not just about being in a table group. It’s about following him with our “all.” Their challenge is our challenge. Their invitation is our invitation.