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Lent 4:

A Reflection on Luke 21:1-4

 

Luke 21:1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury.

 2 And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins.

 3 And He said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them;

 4 for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on."

 

 

Introduction

Now at first glance it appears that our passage this morning is about money and thus we are about to hear a sermon on giving and how you should support your church during difficult times.

 

However, I remind you that money is the Christian version of heroin. Churches are addicted to it. Believers are addicted to it. Yet when we turn to Scripture we find that money is the most meager and limited of all God’s blessings.

 

Instead, when we actually listen to our passage, what we find is that it is about something much deeper and far more profound than money. And it is this principle at the heart of this passage that speaks to us during this virus outbreak.

 

 

Verses 1-4

Notice at once the setting of our passage: Jesus is at the Temple watching people put their offerings into the treasury/receptacle prior to worship. However, of all the people Jesus sees, he draws our attention to just one single person. Importance: Jesus draws our attention to this particular person because there is something about her that Jesus wants us to see and take to heart.

 

Notice then how Scripture describes this woman: first Scripture tells us she is poor (or better, she is poverty stricken). In other words, she is unable to provide for the basic needs and necessities that life requires. Not only that, Scripture also tells us she is a widow. In other words, she is all alone. She has no family to care for her (if she did she wouldn’t be destitute). Furthermore, as a widow, she has no means or pathway by which to better her condition. Simply put, she is destitute, alone, and helpless to resolve the dire situation that confronts her. Importance: over the past few weeks, I think the Corona virus has reminded us just how alike we are to this widow. Life is fragile and tentative. It changes so quickly and like the widow, we are often powerless to fix it.

 

Next, notice what this widow is doing when Jesus draws our attention to her: she is putting two lepta or two small copper coins into the offering. Importance: the leptos or mite that we see in this passage was smallest currency minted during biblical times. It was worth about half a penny. Not only that, Jesus tells us that these two lepta (worth a penny) was all that she had left to live on. Notice then the picture that begins to emerge: the widow has done everything that was in her power to do. She has budgeted, made cutbacks, sold off what little she had and has held on as long as she could. But at last she has reached the end. The rent is paid until the month’s end, she has bought the last little bit of groceries she could afford and the two lepta were the change. It is all she has left in the world to live on.

 

Notice then the widow’s response: not only that, notice the contrast with the way that you and I often respond (have responded are even now responding). When faced with a trial we often respond with panic and self-centered fear. As such, we cling to what is ours (and yet cannot deliver). We hoard things that offer no solution. And we look out for our own interest and forget about the needs of others. In contrast, notice there is no clinging in the widow’s response. Instead, there is giving.



Second, when fear and panic run their course and leave us exhausted at the cold hard wall of acceptance, we often respond with a fatalistic despair. We quit, we let go, we stop fighting, and let the current carry us where ever it may. In contrast, there is no drama or despair in the widows giving. In fact, had Jesus not pointed her out, she would have gone completely unnoticed. Instead, the widow knows she has one move left on the board. Therefore, instead of despair or giving up she makes a conscientious, calculated, and deliberate move. Not only that, it is the same move that God gives each and every one of us no matter the situation we face. However, to understand this move we have to go back to the Old Testament. Why? Throughout the Old Testament God always groups the widows, orphans, and aliens together. Why? They all alike had no one to look out for them. Therefore, God says that He will be a father to the fatherless and that these folks will be under His care and charge.

Psalm 146:9 The LORD protects the aliens; He supports the fatherless and the widow

Notice then the widow’s move: simply put, after everything she tried has failed and after panic and fear have gotten her nowhere, the widow took God up on His offer. She went to His house, emptied her pockets of every human means she had left, let go of it, and put her whole care and trust in God’s hands.

 

And that is the main point of our sermon this morning. In the midst of fear, in the midst of uncertainty, when you can’t fix the situation and you don’t know what to do: God calls you to stop, reset your bearings from within the situation, and put your trust in Him.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

 

2 Timothy 1:12 I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

 

Bottom line: what did we learn from our money sermon? We learned the best move we can make in any situation is to turn to God and trust Him with our concern (stay in His Word, stay in prayer, stay in His house). We also learned that God knows exactly what you are facing, He cares for you, and He will never fail or forsake you.

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