Luke 21:1–4 ESV
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Friends, the texts are going to get longer this week, and because of the gravity of these Holy Week texts (in comparison to what I have to say about them), I am going to shorten my comments. By the time we get to Thursday I may have nothing to say at all. Nothing is more critical this week than the slow, deliberate, even contemplative reading of these texts.
Think about it—apart from these written gospel accounts, we would know nothing at all about Jesus. This is a week to treasure the text. I encourage you to read it aloud so your ears can physically hear the words. Faith, remember, comes by hearing.
Now to my short comment for the day: I always understood the story about the widow putting all she had to live on in the temple treasury as a good thing—a commendation of the widow. When I look again and read it carefully in its context, I am beginning to think it was actually a bad thing.
The reality is that it was an indictment on the temple and its leadership—remember that word about devouring the houses of widows? It’s easy for a wealthy community leader to put in a fraction of a fraction of their wealth into the offering plate while having no idea that it costs the most impoverished among them everything they have to even participate. It gets really interesting when on the heels of this story, Jesus’ disciples start pointing out the extravagance of the temple.
I mean, would that be what Jesus is really after—for the poor to take what little they have and put it into the offering plate? Surely not. Am I missing something here?
So that was the first paragraph in today’s reading. The kicker comes in the rest of the story, on which I will not elaborate other than to say it’s all about judgment. Are you seeing the connection?
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a son/daughter.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a saint.
Where do you most struggle with the prevailing value system within the church in our time?
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