by Bill Spaans:
Chapter 21 of Luke’s gospel comes in two parts – a rather lengthy prophecy that Jesus gave about the end times, which was proceeded by a short recounting of something that Jesus and His disciples observed as they walked near the temple gate. Dr. Luke opens chapter 21 with a story about a widow and a gift. This story is best understood however in the context of the closing verses of chapter 20, where we read (vs. 45- 47) “Beware of the scribes who desire to walk in long robes and who love greetings in the marketplaces and the prominent seats in the synagogues and the seats of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive greater condemnation.”
What Dr. Luke next recalls in chapter 21 is an incident that Jesus and His disciples observed while people were coming to bring their offerings to the temple. The text says (vs.1–4) “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
What are we to make of these stories that Luke tells, which occurred just a few days before Jesus would face the cross? Clearly there are some pretty clear messages here about priorities. The scribes loved the adulation of the people. They loved to be recognized for their status in Jewish society, and for their piety. The poor widow on the other hand came quietly and placed two small copper coins in the offering box!
What a contrast in attitudes! On the one hand we have the scribes who came pridefully, with great public display. On the other hand, we have the widow who came in humility, to offer all that she had. And Jesus noticed! As we have seen over and over again, Jesus is not impressed by what can be seen on the outside. Jesus looks at the heart!
Why is it that Jesus would focus on this lesson just days before His own crucifixion? Could it be that the key message of the cross is not about who we are but rather whose we are? This Easter season let our attitude be that of the hymn writer, who wrote:
1. Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
2. Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
3. Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
4. Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
May we like the widow, give all that we have, for all that He is! And to God be the glory! P.S. You may be wondering about Jesus’ prophecy about the end times which is also recorded in chapter 21. More about that in a future newsletter, God willing! In the meantime, I encourage you to read it carefully and prayerfully. It’s truly amazing!