Mark Chapter 12 v 38 - 44
The Greatest Gift.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Part of our reading from the book of Revelation
Today is a significant day in the lives of all of us – you shall love your neighbour as yourselves, the 100 anniversary of the end of WW1 the Great War when the guns fell silent. Many of those who died during the Great War have never been named.
My grandmother’s brothers Andrew and Peter both fought in the First World War– Tom and I have been to Edinburgh to find their names on the War Register. We found Andrew’s name but not Peter’s he must be one of those unnamed buried in France
The Gospels are driven with people with unknown names. There contributions seem miniscule, yet they are so important
The gospel reading for today is about the widows mite – a woman with no name
Jesus was sitting in the women’s court where the offering receptacles were located. He saw that many who were rich put in much. Jesus used one woman as an example. Then a destitute widow came and tossed in two small brass coins, worth about one fortieth of a penny. Widowhood was one of the most vulnerable positions of the time—Jesus said of the scribes, “those who devour widows’ houses, and for pretence make long prayers. A widow had less capacity for earning than slaves; and unless she had family or friends to protect and help her, she was most likely penniless and perhaps even homeless, and reduced to begging. She was desperately poor, and likely to be a recipient of charity than a donor.
This particular widow was down to her last two mites which was the smallest offering accepted. Since it was such a small amount and this was all she had, it is amazing that she did not keep one of the coins for herself. This poor widow stands in stark contrast to the scribes with their proud arrogance. This widow’s mite does not stand for the least we can give, but the most, our very all. When we sing, “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite will I withhold,” we are telling God that everything we have is His.
As soon as Jesus observed this poor widow’s faithfulness in giving all she had to the poor, He summoned His disciple, pointed her out, and then He said to them, “This poor widow has given more to the treasury than any of the others.
It was an act deserving of praise. The Lord values the gifts of the poor, however meagre they may seem, and we as Christians must treat them with respect even when they bring no gift at all
In vivid contrast to the scribes greediness was this widow’s devotion. The scribes devoured widows’ houses; she gave all that she had to the Lord. The incident shows the knowledge of the Lord. Watching the rich people dropping sizable gifts into the chest for the temple treasury, He knew that their giving did not represent a sacrifice, since they gave out of their abundance. Knowing also that the two mites she gave was her livelihood; He announced that she gave more than all the rest put together. As regards monetary value, she gave very little. However, the Lord judges our giving by our motives, our means, and by how much we have left. This should be an encouragement to all those who have few material possessions, but a great desire to give to Him. The amount of an offering does not always signify the measure of love of the one who gives. Often a more important factor is what is held back. She out of her poverty cast in all she had, everything she needed to live by.
We see what is given, but God sees what is left, and by that, He measures the gift and the condition of our hearts. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give
Many of the religious leaders were corrupt, but the temple was still the place where God put His name and where sincere people could worship Him. Jesus did not criticize the people for supporting the temple ministry, but He did notice what they gave. The proportion, not the portion, is important. Those who give “the widow’s mite” give their all, not their least.
It is amazing how we can approve of the widow’s giving and agree with the Saviour’s verdict without imitating her example! If we really believed what we say we believe, we would do exactly what she did. Her gift expressed her conviction that it all belonged to the Lord, that He was worthy of it all, and that He must have it all. Many people today would criticize her for not providing for her future. Did this show a lack of foresight and good sense? Some people would argue that it does. But, this is the life of faith—plunging all into the work of God now and trusting Him for the future. Did He not promise to provide for those who “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”
This was the last event of Jesus’ public teaching. The act of this humble, needy widow seems to summarize all His teaching. She knew that God’s resources are unlimited, because everything ultimately belongs to Him; therefore, she could willingly and joyously give all she had to Him, because she was in His hands. This was radical and revolutionary to the thinking of the scribes and Pharisees. But, unless we see that the teachings of Christ are both radical and revolutionary, we have missed the emphasis of His ministry.
Like the nameless widow and those others with no names in the gospels who gave all they had ----- and the men and women of the Great War who also gave their all ---their lives – their hopes – their dreams and we remember them on this very special anniversary.
If I could ask you to do one thing for me today in remembrance, when you lay the table for lunch or supper, please lay an extra place and remember those who never returned.
Remembrance Day is the day which we remember people, who lost their lives defending their countries and values of freedom and to give thanks to God for deliverance in the most dangerous times in our history and also it’s a time of reflection on our responsibility as a Christian Church toward war and violence in the world and to express our deepest longing for peace, the true peace among all nations.
Wars cannot bring lasting peace. But God can and ultimately will. And for this we pray, “Thy Kingdom come O God, Thy rule, O Christ, begin; break with thine iron rod the tyrannies of sin.” But it begins with you and me. I finish with a quote by the Dalai Lama: ""Peace starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share peace with neighbouring communities.”