The Widow


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The sermon from this Sunday focused on a situation where Jesus is teaching his disciples in the Temple in Jerusalem. First, Jesus warns his disciples about following certain teachers of the Jewish law who were more concerned with how other people perceived them than with how God perceived them. Second, Jesus observed and commented on two different kinds of people donating money to the Temple. The passage is from the gospel of Mark, chapter 12:

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, 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 12:38-44)

Our meditation will focus on this passage.

As you just read this passage, did you identify with anyone in either of the two parts of the story? Did you recall ways that you want others to respect you, perhaps more than you really deserve? Did you identify with Jesus’ critique of people who go out of their way to look good in front of others? Or in the second part of the passage, did you identify with those who give out of their abundance, or with the widow who had very little beyond what she gave?

If you identified with any of these people, I suggest that you take on the part of this person as we read this passage again more meditatively. If you didn’t identify with anyone in particular, you might play the part of a disciple listening to Jesus teach. In addition, try to imagine what it would have been like to be in the Temple area. It would have been noisy, with lots of people milling around, probably going in all directions at once. It would have been smelly and smoky. Burnt offerings were being given to God and they didn’t just consist of sweet smelling incense. But this was the milieu of getting right with God, of giving God his due, of having your sins forgiven. You are there with Jesus, listening to his every word, seeing in him a prophet of God unlike any seen in living memory.

Once you feel like you are there, invite Jesus to be with you, teaching you through this passage just like he was teaching his disciples 2000 years ago. Read the above passage from Mark slowly. What aspect of Jesus’ searing critique of the teachers strikes you personally? What was Jesus getting at when he compared the donations which people were making to the temple? What is Jesus speaking to you in your current, personal circumstances in this passage? Feel free to dialogue with Jesus as you consider what he is saying to you. Do you have any questions or concerns? Share these with him.

Read the passage again, more slowly this time. Keep in mind what you thought Jesus might be saying to you from the first reading. Pause when you have read a word or sentence which struck you the first time through. Does Jesus seem to be saying the same thing this time? Is it more clear or less? Again, talk to Jesus about what you feel he is saying. Share your excitement or hesitations or anything in between. Jot down any significant thoughts you might have about this meditation and discussion with Jesus.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing:

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