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How Jesus views the collection plate

41 Jesus 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. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 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. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."  (Mark 12:41-44)

The way we usually carry on you'd imagine that Jesus watches the collection plate like a hawk, biting His nails to the quick, hoping against hope that we'll give enough to finance His kingdom aspirations.  That's basically how we think anyway.

But Jesus is not like that.  Actually He's watching us.  He's not bothered about what we throw in so much as what we hold back.  For Him it's not the amount but the sacrifice that counts.  Because - honestly - He's not on edge waiting to see whether His gospel agenda is financially viable.  He's interested in the givers not the gift.

I was once staying with some millionaires in the States.  They had a massive house, massive swimming pool, even a man-made lake stocked with fish.  They called it a pond.  It wasn't.  It was a lake.  My friend was also staying there and one night I wondered aloud to him how much the kingdom would benefit if they gave their wealth away.  My friend was wiser.  He said 'Maybe.  But if they gave away more of their money, the real benefit would be for them.'

Jesus is not watching the missions giving fund.  He's watching the givers.  That's where His real concern lies.


0 thoughts on “How Jesus views the collection plate

  1. Tim Cairns

    I have been reflecting on this story for a while and I am not really at a conclusion yet but my thought process is taking me in a different direction from all the usual sermons I hear on this story. The usual application goes something like this:

    “All these rich people put in money and it caused them no pain to do so, they just gave God second best. A woman comes along and puts in all the money she had, which was all she had to live on you know, and she gave it all. So..........we need to be like the woman and give everything and then we will be living the gospel.”

    I wonder is that the point of the story? What you have said in this post is convincing me even more that this is not a proper exegesis. If Jesus can see clearly what people are putting in then so can everyone else. The text does not seem to suggest that Jesus is using some supernatural power to see inside the collection plate (although he could have done). I think the point is that Jesus was watching, just like anyone else there that day could have stopped and watched.

    The point then is this, if we are to be like Christ then we need to watch the collection plate as he watched the collection plate. As the widow came she came in her need. She walked past the rich people. They all saw her. They knew she was poor. They knew she had given everything. But they didn’t stop and help her. They didn’t move out of themselves to meet her in her poverty.

    So when we look at the collection plate through Jesus eyes we see that all we have, our house, our bank balance, our business, our job, whatever gives us security, belongs to him. Because he is all we need. If we put a massive amount in the collection plate, or just a little, all we are really doing is giving God what is his already. So let us stop. Pause. Look through Jesus eyes, when the collection plate comes round, let us pray:

    Living God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, what I am putting in here is yours already, show me the poor widow who needs your help, show me the people in need, show me the people who are hungry, so I can use your resources to feed them and give them something to eat. Where are the people who are thirsty? Show them to me so that I can use your resources, entrusted to me, to give them something to drink, where are the people without clothes? I want to use what you have given me to feed them, I want to invite the stranger in, I want to look after the prisoner. Show me the least of these, open my eyes and show me the widow who has given her all. Give me your eyes Lord; open my eyes to see how you see Jesus. Amen.

    The focus of application then is not the woman, its Jesus. The application of this story is let me see like you Lord, open my eyes which are closed by sin.

  2. Glen

    hmmm (not a dubious but a thoughtful, head-nodding kind of hmmm)

    We should certainly be trained by Jesus to see the widow the way He does. Yes, very important point. Especially given how the teachers of the law devour widows' houses (Mk 12:40). And yes, seeing Jesus as the LORD who watches over the widow (and alien and fatherless) would be a glorious punchline to the whole thing.


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