Jesus returned to the Temple where he was challenged by the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees – the chief priests and the teachers of the law. He answered their questions and taught them in parables. This back and forth exchange covered topics ranging from whether believers should pay taxes to how marriage works in the afterlife, from whose son the Messiah is to the signs of the End Times. Jesus’ parables addressed obedience to God, rejection of the Messiah, and invitations to God’s Kingdom. Jesus warned about hypocrisy and prophesied the destruction of the Temple.
It was his last time teaching in the Temple, and it reminds me of a study session for a final exam. Jesus was reviewing and reminding and warning and instructing, leaving the religious leaders with no excuses and leaving his disciples with reminders of his kingdom and character, his values and wisdom.
And in the middle of this, we see Jesus settle himself down across from the offering coffers in the courts where women were allowed. These treasury chests were for voluntary donations to pay for the wood for offerings or for salt or other things needed at the Temple. As people came forward and placed their offerings in the trumpet-shaped mouths of the coffers, Jesus watched. Some wealthy people tossed in large amounts of money at no real cost to themselves. Then a poor widow walked up to the wide mouth of the treasury bin.
This poor widow dropped two mites into the offering. Two small coins, the weight of a mid-sized barley corn. Two tiny coins. All that she had to sustain her life for the day. And Jesus saw her.
During his final days, in the middle of debating with and teaching the religious leaders, in the middle of giving his final instructions to his disciples, Jesus paused to notice this poor widow and her sacrificial offering.
Though she was on the bottom rung of society – a really poor widow – Jesus noticed her. This had consistently been Jesus’ way throughout his entire ministry — noticing the people who had been pushed to the margins. The bleeding woman. The short tax collector. The leper. The prostitute. The drug addict or demon possessed. The poor widow.
Jesus noticed her. And Jesus praised her. Jesus declared that her offering – meager as it was – was actually greater than the large amounts tossed in by the rich people.
I love Jesus so much! He isn’t impressed by wealth or social status. He isn’t impressed by show-offiness. He isn’t impressed by careless giving that doesn’t really cost anything. He isn’t fooled by any of it. Not at all.
Jesus looks straight into the heart. Nobody was announcing the amounts as people dropped their money into the treasury chests. Jesus saw and knew. Because he’s God. He saw this poor woman and her love for God, her desire to give God every single thing she had, her willingness to sacrifice one day of food for the worship of God. Her community may have overlooked her, ignored her, forgotten her, but Jesus saw her.
For the entire past year, we’ve been isolated and separated, staying home and avoiding gatherings. It might feel like we’ve been forgotten, like we’re all alone, unnoticed, ignored, overlooked. And in our exhaustion and sadness and collective grief, we may not have much left to offer. We might feel like all we’re doing is dropping half a kernel of corn into a giant barrel. Certainly, nobody even notices. Certainly, our teensy bit isn’t even making a difference. But, friends, these few verses of scripture recorded by Mark remind us — Jesus sees.
Jesus sees you. He sees the way you change a diaper in the middle of the night when you’re so exhausted you don’t have much energy left to give. Jesus sees your eyes smile at the grocery clerk when that smile is all you can muster up. Jesus sees you donating your last dollar to the homeless man on the corner. Jesus sees your heart that loves God even through your grief and your loss. Jesus sees you.
When we don’t feel important or powerful, when we don’t feel enough – Jesus sees. When we strip away everything – our wealth, our standing, our position – if we love God with all we have, that’s enough. Jesus sees us.