Sunday 11 November 2018

Bible Book:

For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. (v 44)

Mark 12:38-44 Sunday 11 November 2018

Psalm: Psalm 146


Today’s passage seems to contain two differing and unrelated themes. The first giving a warning against those who would laud their position over others and the consequences of this (vs 38-40) and the other concerning sacrificial giving (vs 41-44). Preachers may take one or the other as the basis of their sermon but the passage is not often taken as a whole.

The first section is a continuation of Jesus’ challenge to the temple and its systems. In Mark 11, he has turned over the tables and driven out those selling in the temple. Here he speaks against the “teachers of the law” who use their position and status to laud themselves over others. They expect to be treated with respect and dignity because of the position they hold. It is an age-old problem – when people find themselves in power, they can often let it go to their head.

The other character in this story is that of the widow. Mentioned briefly in the first section where she is the victim of the scribes who “devour widows' houses”. In the second section she appears centre stage. Widows were some of the poorest people in Israel’s patriarchal society, alongside orphans and foreigners, and the Old Testament has many instructions and commands on how they should be looked after.

We are told Jesus sat down opposite the place where people gave their offerings (v 41). He watched the many wealthy people throw in much and then a “poor widow” came and put in her only two small coins. The word poor is added for emphasis to the widow here to show the destitution this woman was in. Jesus then tells those with him that she has given more than the others, in fact she has given all she had to live on.

We often read this as an encouragement to sacrificial giving but maybe this isn't praise; maybe this is lament. Here is a widow having her life devoured by the temple system because she has to put in all she has in order to keep up with the religious elite. I wonder how she fed herself that week.


To Ponder:

  • Who in our society could be accused of abusing their positions of power?
  • How should we respond when we see people being mistreated by those in power?
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