Printable PDF: 1-24-2021 Stewardship 3 Sermon
David R. Clark ~ Mark 12:41-44 ~ January 24, 2021 ~ Stewardship 3
SHOULD JESUS REALLY BE WATCHING MY OFFERING?
41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Dear fellow stewards of the grace of God,
You would think Jesus had enough to do! He had to clear moneychangers out of the temple. He had to give people a final chance to hear God’s Word directly from his lips. He had to prepare his disciples for what was about to happen and institute the Lord’s Supper. Gethsemane to Golgotha was before him. But the Bible tells us: Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. You would think that was enough for one week.
Perhaps you feel that way about stewardship sermons. With all the troubles in this world, doesn’t Jesus have enough to do? Does he really need to be looking at my offering? Well, that’s exactly what he is doing. We can all take comfort that the Lord who watches over you neither slumbers nor sleeps. But that’s not all he watches. If he watched their offerings, he must be watching mine. SHOULD JESUS BE WATCHING MY OFFERING?
If we were Jesus’ personal advisors, we would say, “Absolutely not. Don’t do that!” Because, Jesus, if you sit there watching people give their offerings, then you’re going to give the impression that you’re actually interested in what people give to you!
Well, what did Jesus see? Many rich people threw in large amounts. This doesn’t seem all that surprising. We sort of expect wealthy families to be big givers. Jesus said: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). But it turns out that Jesus was not only watching the amount of their gifts, but he was also staring right through their motivation for giving them.
Then Jesus saw another person. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Jesus was watching the widow’s offering, too! She was poor and there was no such thing as stimulus payouts. She offered two tiny copper coins.
What should surprise us is what Jesus said about her: Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. This widow that no one else took notice of was the one our Lord really noticed! She had given more than all the others. Jesus could see what the disciples couldn’t see: 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
The widow was different. She didn’t give some frosting off the cake, because she didn’t have any cake. She gave her bread money, her milk money. She gave everything—all she had to live on.” The amount was tiny, but her self-sacrifice was total. From an outsider’s perspective she gave until she had nothing left. That’s not the way she looked at it. She had God’s promises and God’s gift of faith to trust them. She gave beyond her ability because she trusted her Lord’s ability to care for her.
That is the greatest “take home” we have today. We may have this suspicion that giving primarily has to do with the wallet when what Jesus is really watching is the attitude of our hearts and the actions that follow. Simply put: Do we trust God or don’t we? That’s a “yes or no” question. So when was the last time you gave as if you really trusted in God and staked your future on his promises?
When you send thousands of dollars to the Social Security Administration or Fidelity or Vanguard or Charles Schwab, you do so because you trust what they will do with the investment. But there is no guarantee. Yet the Lord promises: You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11).
No one would say it takes a great act of faith to pay an electric bill or your cell phone bill or your cable TV bill. So why do people of faith? Two-thirds of our congregation have total offerings that are less than a yearly electric or cell phone or cable TV bill?
The answer is painful but clear: because the Lord isn’t first in our hearts. We don’t give sacrificial gifts because we don’t believe that God will truly care for us.
St. Mark doesn’t tell us how the widow’s story ends. But do you really think that Jesus let the widow starve? Do you think Jesus was ignorant of what the widow needed? The widow gave her all trusting in the God who gave his Son for her.
That same God didn’t offer two copper coins for your salvation. He offered his Son’s life and his death for you.
And to be clear: Jesus knows all about widows and what they need. Three days after watching the widow give her gift at the temple, he looked down from the cross upon another widow—his mother. Even with his hands nailed to the cross, he opened his hands and took care of her future needs. And to this day, he opens his crucified hands and fills our desires with good things.
Jesus commended the widow for her gift. He also knows what it means to be forsaken by someone—as he was by his Father for our greed, for our doubting his care, for our disregard of God’s Words about worldly wealth. Jesus’ hands were pierced with spikes so that our hands could be completely cleansed of their death grip on the copper coins of this world.
And in him, both we and the widow have the forgiveness we crave and the motivation we desperately need to open our hands and give in a way that glorifies God and cares for our neighbor.
Jesus is still watching his people’s offerings. What will he see? A tip? God forbid! Or deep-seated trust? God give it! Your Lord is faithful; he will do it! Amen.