Monday, March 14, 2022

Christ, The Church, The Commission #3: All That She Had Mark 12:41-44

Christ, The Church, The Commission #3: All That She Had Mark 12:41-44

Power Point


Our sermon today is taken from Mark 12 verses 41-44. It’s a very familiar story, The Widows Mites, one every Sunday School student has heard, one often mentioned from the pulpit when we talk about giving to the Lord. It is familiar and I have used it many times as an illustration, but I’ve never actually preached on it specifically and as I researched the passage this week I realized that I have been short-changing this story all my life.

I love the story, but I have limited it to a simple narrative about Jesus commending a faithful widow, and it certainly is that but the story of the widow’s mite is actually the culminating event of a very long day of Christ teaching, debating and being challenged by the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and scribes. The story of the widow is the final lesson Jesus brings before the disciples. Jesus wanted them to see her as the antithesis of the Pharisees and scribes. He says look at this woman. Of all the people who I’ve dealt with this week, this woman is the one I want you to see. His praise of the widow is high as His  condemnation of the religious elites was low.


We are always talking about context, and I think to fully appreciate this story and its application to us, you have to see it in its time setting, the events that precede and set the stage for the widows’ mites as a final conclusion to all that Jesus said that day.

Context is always who is speaking, who they are speaking to, the speaker’s purpose and the time when the speaker is speaking. And often it involves where the speaker is as well. When I used to write for the newspaper in college, it was hammered in our head to answer find 5 w’s, who, what, where, when, why and sometimes how. The same questions apply to the principle of scriptural context.

Take a look for a moment at the timeline for this story.

All of this is taken place during what we call, “The Passion Week” the last week of Jesus life, that week begins with the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. And as soon as He enters He is confronted by the Pharisees

On the next day (Tuesday) – Jesus curses the barren fig tree on the way into Jerusalem from Bethany. Once there He cleanses the Temple for the 2nd time, There is another confrontation with Pharisees, as the Children begin singing Hosannas to the Son of David.

In the middle of the week is “The Busy Day”, this will be the last day of Jesus’ public  ministry -  In the morning, cursed fig tree is now withered, Mark 11:20-21 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

Then in the Temple, Jesus’ authority is again challenged by Pharisees and chief priests. Mark 11:28 By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
Jesus now in the Temple courtyard, begins uses parables to teach. He tells the parable of the Two Sons, the Parable of the Talents, and Parable of the Wedding Feast.

After hearing these parable which were directed against the Pharisees, Jesus is questioned and challenged by Pharisees who are joined by the Herodians.  Mark 12:13-14 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

After answering that challenge, He then is challenged by another group of religious elitists, the Sadducees Mark 12:18-23 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.

After silencing the Sadducees, a Scribe approaches and asks about the greatest commandment. Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

Jesus answers the question and then asks the question the Pharisees and scribes can’t answer, Mark 12:35 And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?

He then condemns the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23 and laments for Jerusalem,   Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Then after all this strife and contention, Jesus sees the poor widow give all she had Mark 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites,

After this final public lesson, Jesus and the disciples leave the temple, walk to the mount of Olives and He tells them of His return. Mark 13:1-2 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Matthew 24 expands this prophetic teaching is called the Olivet Discourse.

After teaching about His second coming, He gives the parable of the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Talents.

Finally, Jesus and the disciples sleep atop the Mount of Olives.

The next days see the Passover, Lord’s Supper, the Upper Room Discourse, Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Betrayal, Arrest, Trail, Crucifixion all take place.

And then on Sunday Jesus rises from the dead at Sunrise.

The story of the widow and her giving takes place right in the midst of all that is happening during the Passion week and it is the last thing that Jesus publicly teaches on. It is vastly more than just a side observation that the Lord makes.

We can’t cover all of those events or even just the events of the Busy Day, so let’s begin in Mark 12:28 with the immediate context that ushers in the widow’s story.

The Savior’s Answer - Mark 12:28-34

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

The Sincere Scribe

Who was this man asking Jesus, the famous itinerate Rabbi, about the greatest commandment? Originally, the scribes were a class of Levites that were needed to copy and recopy scripture. In a society with no printing press, this was a highly skilled, important job. After Israel returned from captivity in Babylon and Persia, the scribes became even more important both as recorders of scripture but also as interpreters of scripture. They were the experts on the law and were often called lawyers as well as scribes. As far was we know all the scribes were also Pharisees, though they seemed to be a sect of specially trained for this role.

Now Jesus has just shut down the Sadducees who had asked the question about marriage and the resurrection that was meant to make Jesus look foolish, instead He completely silenced them. The Pharisees, who viewed the Sadducees as enemies, approved of Jesus’ answer since they believed in the resurrection, while the Sadducees did not. So they liked to see the Sadducees put in their place. That approval from the Pharisees, brings us to this scribe who seems to be sincerely seeking an answer to an eternally important question.

Mark 12:28, “Which is the first commandment of all?” There were 613 commandments in the Law, 365 that were negatives, and 248 that were positive. Of all these which one is the most important? That a question that we all need to know the answer.

Jesus answers by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. This of course is the Shema, the Jewish statement of faith about Jehovah their God. It is quoted every day and evening by the Jews. Jesus quotes the passage but adds the phrase with all thy mind, to heart, soul, and might. The meaning of the command is to love the Lord God with all man’s powers, abilities and capacities. Our whole being is to be poured out in love to God. This is the truth that forms the foundation of man’s total duty and relationship to God.

Jesus then adds the second most important commandment from Leviticus 19:18  …thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. The most important commandant is the basis for our obligation to God and the second is the basis of our obligation to our fellowman.  In Matthew 22:40 We read that Jesus summed up the answer by saying, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” They are the foundation of everything the Law asks of us.

The scribe after hearing the Lord’s answer replies, Mark 12:32-33 Well (spoken), Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. That is a wonderful response to the teaching of Jesus, he doesn’t argue, he doesn’t try to ridicule or set a trap. He simple acknowledges the truth.

Now, look at Jesus’ response to this sincere scribe, in Mark 12:34 “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”  The word discreetly means with intelligence, with wisdom, with understanding.  The thing that kept this man from being in the Kingdom of God, is what Jesus next teaches there in the Temple.

Sincerely Seeking

I can’t help but think, as I read of this scribe and his question, of so many people who ae seeking in this world. Seeking for something greater than what they see around them, something more lasting, something that would fill the emptiness in their heart and soul.

I wonder how many of them attend church, or can quote Bible verses or have even been baptized but if they could have the conversation this scribe had with Jesus, it would end with the same statement, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

It is such an encouraging statement and at the same time that encouragement is limited because they stand outside the kingdom, they are close, they know there is something greater but in all their seeking they haven’t come to the place where they can enter in, rather than stand just outside.

“You are not far from the kingdom of God” I wonder if it could be said of anyone here today? You are not far, but you are not there. The door is still closed. The path is still not taken.

A Catholic man, who said he believed the Bible, believe Jesus died on the cross for his sins but had never prayed directly to God. He knew he was a sinner but had never confessed his sin to God, only to a priest and had never directly asked God to forgive him.

He was not far but still he stood outside the gate. What about you this morning where do you stand close or just outside of salvation?

Once Jesus answers these questions, Mark records that no man dared to challenge him or ensnare Him with their questions of theology, law or taxes. He had utterly defeated them. They knew and the people knew it. He was utterly intellectually victorious, but Jesus did not come to earth in order to be the world’s greatest debater. No, he come to be the man’s savior.

So, after they don’t dare ask him any more questions for Jesus, and he tells the scribe, “you are so close,” Jesus then has a question for them. It is a question that brings into focus the one thing that kept the scribe outside the kingdom. It is the single most important answer of time and eternity. Look with me at the question in vs. 34-40

The Savior’s Question - Mark 12:35-40

And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

The Questioning Christ

Here is Jesus teaching in the Temple, he has dealt with the Pharisees, the Sadducees the Herodians and the scribes. He has silenced them and they don’t dare challenge him again. They are finished with Him, but Jesus is not finished with them. He asks, “How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?” In the parallel passage in Matthew, it is even clearer that he is now directly challenging them, in Matthew 22:41-42, “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.” Then Jesus springs His own trap, not to win the day, He has already done that, but to show all how to win the kingdom of heaven.

The quotation in Mark is taken from Psalms 110:1. The Jews knew that this passage was about the Messiah, that the Messiah would be the son of David, he would come through the lineage and family of David.

Then Jesus asks the question of the ages for the Jewish people listening that day, How can David call the Messiah, Lord. How can the Messiah be both David’s exalted Lord and his son? Matthew states in Matthew 22:46, “And no man was able to answer him a word,” Nor did Jesus answer the question for them. Do you know why? Because He was the answer. He was David’s son and at the same time, He was David’s Lord. Standing before them, was the incarnate Son of God, their longed for, prayed for Messiah of Israel. Jesus, himself was the answer personified in their presence. They couldn’t answer His question because the only answer would have been for them to fall on their face before their King and Savior and worship Him.

Jesus then warns the crowd listening to Him of the poison of these corrupt elitist hypocrites. They could not stand before Him intellectually and they are so spiritually blind that they will not bow before Him. Mark has three verses of warning against these hypocrites, but Matthew records the entire sermon in the harshest, most condemning chapter in the New Testament. In the 23rd Chapter of Matthew we hear Jesus’ words ring out over and over again. Matthew 23:13 “… woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” I can’t imagine when it was over a single pharisee or scribe was anywhere in the Temple grounds, but like the money changer the previous day, Jesus had driven them out, this time not with a whip of cords but with the sharp truth of His words.

That truth, is the way into the kingdom of heaven. It is one we must answer in our own lives if we are to cross that line. Here is the question of eternity, …

“Who Do You Say I Am?”

I believe the question Jesus challenged the Pharisees with that day, is the same question each of us must answer in this day and age. Who is Jesus or as Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?
In Matthew 16:15-16, as Jesus and the disciples were withdrawn from the attacks of the Pharisees back in Jerusalem, Jesus turns to them as asks, “whom say ye that I am?” Listen to the answer that Peter gives, “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Peter answered the question the Pharisees could not answer. You and I must also face and answer that same question. Jesus asks each of us, “Who do you say I am?” We either answer in faith with Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the savior the son of the living God who died for us, or we must retreat in silence and shame with the unbeliving Pharisees.

In faith, we must see Jesus standing right before us, God the Son, God in the flesh who came and gave His life to pay the ransom for my sin. That is how heaven is opened, that is how you enter the kingdom.

No other name

After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus,  Peter along with John heal a man sitting by the Beautiful Gate. When they are arrested the same Pharisees that challenged Jesus now challenge them, ask about their authority. They answer they gave is in Acts 4:8-12, “Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

The answer to eternity is Jesus. He is the key that opens the gates of the kingdom of heaven. The Pharisees could not believe it, the Sadducees could not accept it and the scribes could not see it but you and I know that the answer. It is Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, Jesus, David’s Lord and Jesus the Savior of all who put their faith in Him.

Listen to this transition from A T Roberston’s N T Word Pictures, as we go to the last point. “The storm is over. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, scribes, have all slunk away in terror ere the closing words. Mark draws this immortal picture of the weary Christ sitting by the treasury. - A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Mk 12:41.

And that is where we find the final lesson of the day’s teaching in the Temple and the poor widow says it all, without speaking a single word.

The Savior’s Sight - Mark 12:41–44

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.  And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

The Wondrous Widow

Jesus was the master teacher of parables, and the master of seeing the truth of God in all the events of life and creation. Whether it be a wedding or a wineskin or the wind blowing, Jesus could turn it into a sermon. And now that is what He does here.

Jesus has driven away the hypocrites and the Bible says he is sitting across from the treasury. I’m sure he was weary He has been teaching and debating all day. This area in the temple was the Court of the Women and the treasury was thirteen trumpet-shaped chests for the deposit of gifts and the temple tax. In my mind they were a type of funnel so the money could literally be “cast in” as the crowd walked by. Jesus just sitting there watching as people walk by and cast in their offerings. He sees many people for this is the week of the Passover, there are millions of people in Jerusalem for the feast. He sees the rich men cast in much. They didn’t try and hide it, there were no offering envelopes, no they pulled out their coins and made a show of pouring them from their money bags into the treasury boxes. This goes on and on, until Jesus sees a widow woman, the Bible says she is poor. The same kind of woman that Jesus had just preached were the targets of the Pharisees and scribes, who would devour the widow’s house while making a long pretentious prayer.

Jesus sees her, this poverty-stricken widow, we only know about her condition because Jesus can read hearts and minds and He tells us, she is poor. As she walks by one of those treasury boxes, He sees her pull two coins out and cast them in the treasury. The KJV calls them mites which was a coin being used in the translators’ times. In the Greek the word is lepton and it was the smallest of all copper coins, equal to one-eighth of a cent. In fact, the word lepton actually means peeled or stripped because it was so thin. It was just a scrap of copper.

Yet, so astounding is the act of the widow to Jesus, that he calls all of his disciples and points her out. Mark 12:43 Verily I say unto you, (Jesus precedes his statement with this qualifier of absolute truth and veracity.) Verily, truly, assuredly, this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury before her.

The rich of all the Jewish nation had been walking by and throwing in what may have been their yearly tithe and offering, but Jesus didn’t call the disciple to look at them. No, Jesus called them to look at a poor nondescript widow. He gets their attention and He says, This is the truth, the truth of all that day’s teaching, the truth of living and giving.

Here is what Jesus saw and what he passes on. Mark 12:44 “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” It may have been the smallest offering given that day, but in God’s eyes it was the greatest gift given that day and it was the living example of what that scribe had asked earlier. What is the greatest commandment? Love the Lord they God with all you have, and that is what this woman had just done. The money she gave was her living, she needed it to buy food, or clothing or something else that would sustain her life, but she gave it away. Jesus saw her love for her Lord, poured through her fingers, out of her life and into the service of God because she loved God with her all.

No wonder Jesus called the disciples and said, “Look, here is truth. Here is love. Here is the greatest commandment being played out right before your eyes.”     

Are We Willing To Give All?

Is there anything I can say or add this morning that would be more convicting that what Jesus has just shown us? Just as real and dynamic today as it was that Passover week 2 thousand years ago?

I have to ask myself. When have I ever given away my all? When have I ever given my living, my food for the day, my sustenance needed to live as a gift to the Lord I love? Aren’t you convicted? Aren’t you challenged? Aren’t you aware of Jesus’ looking at us this morning? Looking for one that is willing to truly love as this widow did.

Oh, we never can know
What the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
And have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

Who can tell all the love
He will send from above,
And how happy our hearts will be made;
Of the fellowship sweet
We shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid.

We passed out a replica of the widow’s mite this morning. I want each of us to take it home, keep it in your pocket or place it on a desk or table where you’ll see it in the next few days and weeks. And every time you see it, or put you hand in your pocket and feel it there, I want you hear the words of Jesus from the pages of scripture, “but she of her want did cast in all that she had.” And when you hear the Holy Spirit whisper those words to your heart, I just want you to ask the Lord, “What can I give?”

It may not be money, it may be time, it may be commitment, it may be obedience, it may even be your life. It may be all those or none of those, I can’t know that, but I do know that God will lay something on your heart that is a measure of your living, something that is all you have. When that happens, right there and then, give it to God. Cast it into the treasury of heaven. Isn’t this the same lesson that Jesus taught in …

Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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