Jesus is walking through the Temple, and he is not so impressed.
In Mark 12, we see Jesus surrounded by religious people discounting his deity. About him are many ministers seeking to undermine and arrest him. They do not appreciate his teaching. Hypocrites are asking him question after questions about thinks like Roman taxation and marriage in heaven. However, they have no interest in truth. No, they merely desire to trip up and trap Jesus in his words.
Finally, Jesus has had enough, and he declares what he thinks, “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats of honor in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Clearly, Jesus is not impressed with these religious showmen.
Then, Jesus sees something most impressive.
As Jesus is sitting and watching people worship, he observes rich people putting in large sums of money. The evaluation of Jesus regarding these people is not stated. It can be assumed he is pleased with some and displeased with others. But then Jesus sees a poor woman — a widow — presenting two small coins. Her gift is the equivalent of a three-year old child placing a penny in a modern-day offering plate. With this gift and display of love, Jesus is most pleased. Jesus is thoroughly delighted. He is impressed. Jesus then calls the Twelve together; he must share his thoughts with his men:
… “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 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.” (Mark 12:43-44)
What’s the big idea?
Today, as we worship in the presence of Jesus, let us know that he is watching.
Let us see he is not impressed with what we know. Our religious rambling, doctrinal disputation, and theological sparring are not delightful in his eyes. We may make much regarding our educational institutions and academic degrees. We may be quite pleased with our books and blogs. We may be fascinated with our hard questions and deep answers, but Jesus is not impressed with our theological acumen. Many smart theologians are condemned.
Let us see he is not impressed with our show. We might make much of our positions, chairs, titles, and clerical garments. We might consider ourselves more holy due to our long services filled with long hymns, long prayers, longs readings, long confessions, and long sermons. But friends, Jesus could not care less. He is not impressed with our external pomp and ceremony. Many stately professionals are condemned.
Let us see he is not impressed with our dough. Many believe God’s favor comes in relation to their donations. We find ourselves fascinated by those who give much money, much time, and much energy. However, Jesus, not so much. He is only impressed with “everything.” Anything else is sub-par. Anything else, regardless of the amount, is a slap in the face of God. Jesus is not so impressed with our expensive worship.
Let us see he is only impressed with our radically affectionate sold-out hearts. He loves to see rich and poor, men and women, educated and uneducated, clergy or laity, giving all they have to him in worship. He loves to see his bride give “everything.” And, since Jesus is the one who gives and grooms such reformed and radical hearts of affection, Jesus becomes impressed by the saving and sanctifying work he is doing within the hearts of his sons and daughters. Jesus is never impressed with what we do, but he is most impressed with what he does through us.
Therefore, sons and daughters of God, let us pray:
We see in this chapter in Mark that our primary calling is to love you with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength. This is what you desire. This is what you demand. This is what you deserve.
In our natural condition — the flesh, the old man — we are much more like the Pharisaical enemies of Jesus than we like to think. In our own strength, there is never a day when we love you properly. Sadly, we love ourselves too much. Yes, in our natural condition, we are religious blow-hards. We might be impressive to ourselves, but we are wretched hypocrites in your sight. We never give our “everything” to you.
However, we praise you for your grace and favor. We give thanks you have not determined to leave us in our fallen condition. You have lived and died for us. You gave your “everything” for us. And now, you have called us to yourself, and you have given us a new heart with accompanying affections. You have done this. You have performed on our behalf. You have done and are doing impressive work in us, and with your handiwork you are well pleased.
And Father, we are pleased and impressed as well. We praise you for making us saints who are always delightful in your eyes. We praise you that we look like the widow because of the work of the Son.
Therefore, today, we long to love like saints. We want to be like that precious widow. We ask that you would help us put to death the stinking-thinking of our flesh. We pray for a fresh falling, filling, and fruiting of the Holy Spirit. By faith we supplicate and ask you to transform our minds and hearts. Help us to live in the power of Jesus. Help us to walk and keep step with the Spirit. Help us to love you, from the inside-out. Train us to be radically affectionate and expensive as we give our money, time, and energy. May we give you our “everything,” and may you be incredibly pleased with what you are doing inside us.
Oh Jesus, we are learning to loathe external religiosity. We are learning to love you more and more. We know you are finishing that which you have already begun. Come and help us our Lord, Savior, and Friend. Hear the prayers of your poor widows.