Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Nov 11th)

Pastor's Summary of Mark 12:38-44

Our text for this Sunday deals with an incident at the end of Jesus' earthly ministry. Alot of attention is drawn to the scribes within the Temple in Jerusalem. Whereas last week we viewed a friendly, sincere scribe inquiring as to what was the greatest commandment, Today we receive a more negative view of the scribes. Not only have the scribes responded to Jesus' actions in the temple by seeking a way to destroy in (11:18), in this chapter they are depicted as overly concerned with the opinion of the people.  This concern is demonstrated by wearing long robes, in order to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour widow's houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. It appeared that these scribes were acting like priests in wearing long robes. Of course, all of this was to herald themselves as important. And many in society believed these scribes to be people of importance. The people who were the most vulnerable were widows. Widows hadno rights in their society. Their care fell to their children, if they had grown children. These scribes, who were lawyers, handled many of the estates and might have cheated widows out of part of these estates when the women sought a scribe's legal expertise upon her spouse's death. In any case, Jesus charges the scribe with taking away the very livelihood of one of the most vulnerable members of first-century society.

After Jesus denounces the pompous actions of the scribes, He sits down opposite the temple treasury and watches people offer money. 13 trumpet-shaped chests, each designated for different taxes or offerings,were situted in the Temple. The sound of the metal coins being cast into these metal chests would have reverberated with the abundance of each gift being announced by the very act of giving it. Jesus calls his disciple's attention to a widow who gives an insignificant sum out of her poverty whereas the rich gave out of their abundance.  She gave her whole life to God in commitment to Him.

Whereas the scribes have failed her, and the temple has failed her, this woman has done what she has been taught to do by the religious leaders whom she has trusted. She has been faithful, but her story demonstrates the truthfulness of Jesus' charge against the robbers and devourers of widows (11:17).

While her actions might be praised by those seeking examples of selfless giving, sorrow surrounds the context of this generous gift, sacrifically given at the encouragement of those wanting to devour her estate.