Today’s Reading: Mark 12:38-13:13
Two wealthy Christian a lawyer and a merchant joined a party that was going around the world. Their pastor asked them to take pictures of any thing which they thought was unusual. In Korea, as they were traveling, they saw in a field a boy pulling a crude plow, while an old man held in his hands the handles. The lawyer was amused and took a picture. Commenting to the guide, he said,”That is an unusual sight. I suppose they are very poor.” “Yes,” came the answer. “They are poor, that is the family of Chi Noui. When the church was being built in this area they were excited to give something to help it along, but they had no money so they sold their only ox and gave the money to the church. This spring they are taking turns pulling the plow themselves.” The lawyer said thoughtfully, “That must have been a real sacrifice ” The guide said, “They did not call it that.” They thought it was fortunate they had an ox to sell.”.
The lawyer was real quiet after that event. When they reached home, the lawyer took the picture to the pastor. As he sat down in the pastor’s study he said forcefully,”I want to double my pledge to the church. And please give me some plow work to do. I have never known what sacrifice for the church meant. A converted Korean taught me. I am ashamed to say I have never yet given anything to my church that cost me anything.”
The woman in our text today is never named in the Bible. There are only two accounts of her act given in the New Testament. She is mentioned here and in Luke 21 and both chapters give her story in only four verses. The meaning of this story is very clear. Jesus is pointing up the true emphasis on giving, giving not the leftovers , or a little , bit so that a person won’t notice it, but giving from the point of sacrifice.
One pastor in a sermon on this text said pointing text said, “It is simply that true giving is relative to what is left, not absolutely the gift. As Jesus sat there among the alms boxes and watched people making their contributions out of them all one widow stirred him and moved him to say. Here was the real thing.” To put the matter with stark concreteness it was her next meal. The temple was full of the noise of coins cropping. The thirteen big receptacles, shaped like ear trumpets made a lot clanging of metal on metals. Jesus’ ears were attuned to the fairest noise of all, the fulling of two small coins, the smallest in circulation, worth in purchasing power about two cents…Yet…..it was the one which caught the attention of Jesus”. Why was this giving so different, so unusual? Because this widow was willing to give from the heart. Her love of God knew no bounds. She gave even though she couldn’t afford it. She gave because she wanted to give. She was not compelled by guilt, or fear, or reward, she gave because she was in love, in love with God.