The Widow Revealed.
Last lesson we talked about getting off the Axiom, stop being just a hearer and be a doer. At the end of Chapter 1 of James, we were given an example of a pure and undefiled religion before God, which was to visit orphans and widows.
I want to follow up on that lesson to examine the large cultural problem, which I believe is still relevant today. In Mark 12, Jesus was being confronted by Pharisees and Herodians. The difference between these two groups for the context of this lesson is that the Pharisees were Jewish law/kingdom supporters while Herodians were loyal to the regional King Herod, therefore loyal to Ceasar.
Jesus is asked a question that really sets up the remainder of the chapter. In verse 14 he is asked “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” Jesus asks for a coin and asks whose likeness is on this coin. The reply was “Ceasar” and Jesus says “render unto Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”.
Jesus was saying that the coin was made in the likeness of Ceasar, so render unto him his taxes but WE are made in the imprint of God so render yourselves unto God! What an AWESOME statement!!!
Later on in the chapter, Jesus is teaching and remembering this exchange and tells his disciples to beware of those that walk around with everything and still devour widows. Then he points to the “giving box” and shows how the people give large sums of money out of their wealth and greed but a widow, who Jesus says is poor, gives her last small bit of money. Understand that Jesus is not saying “blessed is this woman for giving all she had”. He basically said she passed from poor to destitute by trying to live up to a system that was FIXED against her. She sees these arrogant men giving huge sums and feels the obligation to give all she had to live on!!
This passage is not a heralding passage for the widow, it is one of warning to those that prey on the destitute. These men were giving money they received by making the poor feel obligation… they weren’t even giving sacrificially!
While God calls us to give, this passage does not call us to destitution! God calls us to stewardship and wise investing. We see that a lot. The disciples even had a money manager. We know that the wise stewardship of assets is important, so let’s check ourselves toward the warning Jesus is giving.
Soli Deo Gloria