Again, we join Jesus in the temple. He has moved locations and is now sitting down watching the people as they give their offerings. Jesus is observing the people and what they are bringing. He has an advantage here to other would be observers in that He knows the hearts of each of the people in this procession.
I did a little digging into what the scene looked like that day. I discovered that the temple treasury was housed in the Court of the Women. There were actually 13 different receptacles for giving housed on one wall of the Women’s court. I don’t know exactly where Jesus was sitting while He made His observations, unless He was sitting on the steps. We are not told which of the receptacles she dropped her life savings into. I also learned that there were nine boxes that held offerings that were required, two for the temple tax and four for voluntary offerings in excess of the requirements. I invite you to check out Bible-History.com for much more information on this subject.
I’m curious as to which of the receptacles she dropped her small yet profound gift into. I wonder if she cast her money into the treasury for a sin offering rather than for the voluntary offering. There was a prescribed amount for the different sin offerings, such as the price of the turtle dove or pigeon, but this amount probably didn’t even meet the requirements. But it was all she had. Was she desperate for forgiveness for some sin at that time? Could she have been a victim of manipulation on the part of the scribes? Was she in danger of losing her “home” to the scribes, as Jesus alluded to earlier?
Another thing I noticed in this story is that Jesus doesn’t speak to the woman or draw anyone’s, except His disciples’, attention to her actions. Was she trying to go unnoticed? Jesus let her remain anonymous. But He used her heart to teach His disciples a lesson. He taught that the size of the gift means nothing compared to the heart behind it.
Those coming before and after this woman were bringing the required amounts plus their over and above offering. We don’t know if Jesus’ comments on the group of rich givers applied equally to all that day’s contributors, or just to some. We are also not told of their hearts. What we do know of them is that they could easily afford what they gave and it didn’t cause them any hardship from the loss of those funds.
Our widow on the other hand, had nothing else to live on. She gave everything she had. Why did she do that? Was she fulfilling a promise? Was she giving a sin offering or a freewill offering? Was she giving in faith, expecting God to care for her because she could no longer care for herself? How much would that penny have bought in food for her?
Another thing I want to know is what Jesus did about her condition afterwards. Did He instruct His disciples to care for her? Did He ask His Father to bless her? Did He go to her after His resurrection? What became of her; this widow who had given everything she had to God?
I was thinking about the widow and realized her gift has another level we can look at. Let’s look at the heart instead of the coins. Those giving a small portion would represent people trying to section off an unessential portion of their heart to offer to God. “Here God, You can have this section of my heart. I’ll take care of the rest on my own.” Where the “widow” placed her whole heart in God’ hands. “I know it’s not much, but it’s all I have. Please take it and do with it as You see best. I trust You with all that I have. Please take all of me.” This is the heart Jesus really wants. He doesn’t want us shutting the doors where we hide the dirty clothes. He wants free access to all the hidden corners. Only then can we truly be His.
Father God, thank You that You also saw this widow’s offering. Thank You that You care for the widows and orphans. I’m sure You met her at the point of her need, after all, You had Your own Son point her out to His disciples. Thank You also that You don’t count the dollars and cents in the offering plate. But that You bless what we bring when we bring it with the right heart. My regular giving has been stilted by my circumstances, but I know You honor what I give beyond money. Thank You for that too. Please help me know how to handle the hurdles I face in giving financially.
As for my heart Lord, I have given You access to all the rooms. But sometimes I try to hurry You out or only let You in AFTER I have cleaned something up. Sometimes something sneaks into one of the rooms and I try and quietly shut the door so You won’t see it. You always see it but sometimes You let me wait a little while before requiring me to deal with it. You ask gently right from the start, but it often takes more volume or light before I deal with it completely. Thank You that You don’t give up on helping me fess up or on helping me clean up, again. I want to be fully Yours.