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. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)
If you only had the gospel of Mark, you might never know Jesus ever went to Jerusalem until the time of his death. It is not until chapter eleven that he arrives there.
The scene Mark paints of Jerusalem however is not a pretty one. The temple area has degenerated into a commercial trading zone – a poor venue for prayer. The Jewish leadership – mostly religious leadership – has renewed its efforts to murder Jesus (11:18; 12:12) and Jesus has let them know, that he knows, they mean him harm. Chief Priests, Elders, Teachers of the Law, Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees all come to debate with him. The Lord not only defeats them, but accuses the most respected among them of taking advantage of some of society’s most vulnerable – the widows.
All of which brings me to this: Why did the poor widow continue to support such a corrupt system with her contributions?
The answer, of course, is that she wasn’t supporting a corrupt system. She was giving to God. God would hold the leaders accountable for their corruption. He would hold her accountable for her faithfulness. The widow wasn’t concerned about giving to a cause. She was concerned about giving to God. She knew that her financial giving could not be divorced from her faithfulness. She was “all in,” and she proved it by giving all she had to live on.
Ironic is it not? The religious leadership was all about taking a life. The widow was all about giving her own life. It is in her example we find Christ-likeness.