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41 Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. 42 One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. 43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. 44 All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.”
The Jerusalem Temple was a huge religious, social, and even business center, bustling and noisy. Sustaining the institution took many large gifts—and many people gave such gifts. (Matthew 6:2 even hinted that some people hired a bugler to attract notice as they gave large gifts to the cause.) But Jesus noticed and honored a different kind of giver. He praised a generous, trusting widow who gave her “fortune”—two tiny copper coins, “worth a tiny fraction of a day’s wage” *—to the Temple.
Lord of heaven and earth, teach me how to love you as much as the widow Jesus noticed. Teach me how to offer my time, my talents, my treasures, and myself for your glory. Amen.
I enjoy going to museums. It is fascinating to see the magnificent paintings or learn about the artist’s life before they created that unique sculpture. Museum curators have painstakingly put together exhibits. Donors and visitors contributed lots of money to maintain the upkeep and beauty of the museum. I love going to these places because the paintings I see in a museum are not something I could see every day or purchase to hang in my home. The art in museums usually costs thousands or millions of dollars.
Yet, one of the most beautiful recent exhibits I have heard about does not cost thousands of dollars. It reminds me of the root lesson in today’s GPS passage: Giving Freely and Openly to Others. Back in 2019, a story went viral on the internet. It was about a rock worth a lot more than money. *
Like the poor widow who gave much-needed money that would otherwise go towards basic necessities, a little English girl named Bethan gladly gave her “precious rock” to the Poole Museum after learning about the concept of exhibits so that others might share in the joy of its beauty. Poole Museum manager Rebecca Rossiter told Dorset Live newspaper: “Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s a very personal thing and a very personal story, and she was so keen to give it to us. It’s really a lovely object to have.” *
People probably scoffed at the widow who could only give a few coins when others could provide so much more. People also might have scoffed at a rock being in a museum. Were the widow’s, and the girl’s, offerings that they gave so freely and openly worthy of being placed next to the other offerings given? Is quantity always better than how genuinely something is given? Does a small gift have value?
Even though the rock was important to her, the stone may not seem as valuable as other pieces in the museum. A rock is not expensive. One can find a rock on any road or beach a person visits. Both the widow and the girl gave what they could… what was precious to them for others and for a cause they believed in. Jesus values a small gift given with a big heart when Jesus says: “This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Giving Freely and Openly to Others may not make us tangibly wealthy, but it makes us spiritually rich.
“When asked why such an unassuming rock has gained such a large fan following, Ms. Rossiter said: “I wonder if that’s partly why it’s so popular, as to the untrained eye it doesn’t look like anything hugely special, but it obviously meant so much to her.” *
Most Loving God,
In the hectic pace of everyday life, it can get challenging to determine at times what really matters. Material things and money can provide comfort in our lives, but they cannot completely fill us. Please transform our hearts so that we may live more like the widow at the temple for we can be filled up by Giving Freely and Openly to Others. Amen.
* MacLachlan, K. (2022, February 22). Unassuming rock from Dorset Museum goes viral. Dorsetlive. https://www.dorset.live/news/dorset-news/unassuming-rock-dorset-museum-goes-6701046.
* Suzanne Watts Henderson, study note on Mark 12:42 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 93 NT.
** Craig S. Keener, comment on Mark 12:41-44 in The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.