Questions for Littles: Of what class of people are those of whom Jesus says to beware in v38? What do they desire to wear? What do they love to receive in the marketplace? What do they desire in the synagogues (v39)? What do they desire at feasts? What do they do to widows’ houses (v40)? Why do they make long prayers? What kind of condemnation will they receive? Where was Jesus sitting in v41? What did he see? What did many who were rich do? Then who came in v42? What did she throw in? Whom did He call to Himself in v43? Whose gifts did He say the widow’s gifts surpassed? Out of what had others put in (v44)? Out of what did the widow put in? How much of it? What did she need it for?In the Gospel reading this week, the Lord Jesus points out to us one bad example and one good example.
It is important to notice this use of examples. We know, theologically, that the only righteousness we have is that which Christ works in us, which we do by faith in Him. But this does not disqualify having eminent believers as role models. Jesus points them out; Paul by the Holy Spirit even says, “imitate me as I imitate Christ”; and, the book of Hebrews tells us to follow (literally, “mimic”) the faith of our elders (Heb 13:7).
There are also negative examples that Scripture sets before us as warnings. Here, Jesus gives us one: people who are all about themselves. Interestingly, the specific ones that He chooses in this case are scribes. Bible experts. Those who spent their entire time copying and studying the Bible. It is as if to say: do not think that church membership, spiritual exercises, or even church office prevent someone from needing a warning such as this one!
No, this warning is for all of us: watch out for being all about yourself. For seeking your own image, your own popularity, your own reputation, your own honor, your own pleasure. Be especially aware of how you treat the most vulnerable people (like widows, unborn babies, or foreigners). Be especially careful of your motivations (why DO you pray the way that you do?). The more into yourself that you are the greater your condemnation!
It’s also interesting to see who the good example is in this case. It’s someone that would otherwise have been invisible. On our own, we aren’t likely to say, “if only I could be down to my last two pennies, and have no one else in the world who loves me enough to take care of me—then I could be a really good spiritual example.” It takes the teaching of our Lord Jesus to point out such things to us.
Since the Lord has no actual need of what we give to Him, it is the level of self-denial that most glorifies Him. Praise God for all those rich people who put so much in! That was God’s means of providing for God’s work. But the one who gave the most was the one who gave away what she actually needed for herself to live off of.
What opportunity to serve or give has arisen recently, in which you would actually have to deny yourself in order to do it? Will you do it?Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB303 “Be Thou My Vision”