Mark 12:41-44 – Surprising Takeaways from the Widow’s Offering


Jesus noticed and cared for the poor and vulnerable people when no one else did. If we are to be like Him, we need to do this too. So, who do you know who is like this widow? Who do you know who is vulnerable – lacking any financial safety-net? How can you bless them this Christmas?

Last week, we determined together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by listening to His teaching and living by it. We have determined to not set up manger scenes in our homes without setting up Jesus’ teaching in our hearts. And so we reenter the story of Jesus in Mark 12.

Here in Mark 12, we saw Jesus teaching a crowd of people in the temple and warning them of the scribes. He told them to beware of scribes because they liked attention, position and possessions. And one of the last things He said about them was that they devoured the resources of widows – the most vulnerable people in society. (See 3 Desires of Bad Religious Leaders.)

Today, we’ll see what happened next.

Jesus Watches People Giving Offerings

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.

Mark 12:41-42

So Jesus, sitting here in the temple, sees two things. First, He sees a lot of rich people giving a lot of money. Then, He sees a poor widow come and give two coins that together would make up a penny. These are the kind of coins that, if you saw them in the Walmart parking lot, you wouldn’t even bother to stoop down and pick them up. And Jesus instantly sees a teaching moment for His disciples.

And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. …”

v. 43

Jesus tells His disciples that the widow put in more than everyone else. Those two little coins were worth more than the hundreds of coins that other people put in. How? Why?

“… For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

v. 44

And Jesus’ Point is?

What did Jesus want His disciples to take away from this? What does He want us to take away from this object lesson? It seems at first like Jesus is saying for us to not be like the scribes but to be like this widow – offering 100 percent. If that’s what Jesus means, then the application is really simple: we should give away all our money. 100 percent. Every last drop.

However, that doesn’t seem to be what Jesus was getting at. First, remember the context. Since entering Jerusalem, He had been pummeling the temple system and being confrontational with the temple leaders about how corrupt they were. He turned over tables and drove people out, and now here we are. Jesus just got done warning people about the scribes for eating up the material resources of widows.

With that in mind, look back at this passage. Nowhere does Jesus explicitly condemn the rich people for putting in large amounts of money because they didn’t give 100 percent. And nowhere does He specifically commend the widow for giving all she had. He just points out what’s going on.

What Jesus seems to be saying is, “Remember how I told you that the scribes devour the resources of widows? It’s happening right now! That widow is a perfect example.” The poor widows were being crushed by the corrupt temple system way more than anyone else. The widow’s offerings was overlooked because it was so small, but not for her – it was “all she had to live on.”

The widow is not a hero in this story – she’s a victim. And she is an object lesson of what Jesus has been talking about for chapters.

What Does It Mean for Us?

So, if the response is not for us to literally give away all we have to live on, then what is our response? How can we celebrate Jesus by taking this lesson to heart? There are three responses that come to mind:

  1. Beware of religious leaders who seek financial gifts from vulnerable people.
  2. Our church, practices and leaders should never pressure poor, vulnerable people to give money.
  3. Let’s allow the mercy and grace of God that we’ve received through Jesus Christ to motivate us to care for the poor and vulnerable.

Jesus noticed and cared for the poor and vulnerable people when no one else did. If we are to be like Him, we need to do this too. So, who do you know who is like this widow? Who do you know who is vulnerable – lacking any financial safety-net? How can you bless them this Christmas?

Discussion Starters

  1. Based on the context, what seems to be the overall point of this passage?
  2. What are the three possible responses that Pastor Matt pointed out?
  3. What can we do to make sure we aren’t pressuring people into giving to our church?
  4. Can this passage have any application for how we should give? Do any other Scriptures about giving come to mind?
  5. Who do you know that is poor and/or vulnerable? How can you care for them this Christmas?

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Youth in the Park

June 25-27 | 11am – 2pm | ages 12-19

@ Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park
      • Chick-fil-A lunch (pizza on Wednesday)
      • kickball, ultimate Frisbee, wiffleball

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