And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
Most touching is the connection between the denunciations against those grasping ecclesiastics who "devoured widows' houses" - which, according both to Mark and Luke, our Lord had just uttered-and the case of this poor widow, of highest account in the eye of Jesus. The incident occurred, as appears, on that day of profuse teaching-the third day (or the Tuesday) of His last week. In Mark's account of it we read that "Jesus sat," or 'sat down' [ kathisas (Greek #2523)] "over against the treasury" (Mark 12:41) - probably to rest; because he had continued long teaching on foot in the temple-court (Mark 11:27). This explains the opening words of our Evangelist.
And he looked up (from his sitting posture), and saw (doubtless as in Zaccheus' case, not quite casually), the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury, [ gazofulakion (Greek #1049)] - a court of the temple where 13 chests were placed to receive the offerings of the people toward its maintenance (2 Kings 12:9; John 8:20.) These chests were called trumpets, from the trumpet-like shape of the tubes into which the money was dropped, wide at the one end and narrow at the other. Mark (Mark 12:41) says, "He beheld how the multitude [ ho (Greek #3588) ochlos (Greek #3793)] cast money [ chalkon (Greek #5475)] into the treasury" - literally 'brass,' but meaning copper-coin, the offering of the common people - "and many that were rich cast in much" [ polla (Greek #4183)], literally, 'many [coins]' or 'large [sums].'
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
And he saw a certain poor [or 'indigent' penichran (G3997)] widow casting in two mites, [ leepta (Greek #3016)] - "which make a farthing" (Mark 12:42); that is, the smallest Jewish coin. The term here rendered "farthing" [ kodrantees (Greek #2835) = quadrans] is the 8th part of the Roman "as"; and thus her whole offering would amount to no more than about the 5th part of our penny. But it was her all. "And He called His disciples" (Mark 12:43) for the purpose of teaching from this case a great general lesson.
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all - in proportion to her means, which is God's standard of judgment (2 Corinthians 8:12).
For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
For all these have of their abundance, [ ek (Greek #1537) tou (Greek #3588) perisseuontos (Greek #4052) autois (Greek #846)] - 'of their superfluity;' of what they had to spare, beyond what they needed.
Cast in unto the offerings [or 'gifts' doora (G1435)] of God - the gifts dedicated to the service of God,
But she of her penury, [ hustereematos (Greek #5303)] - 'her deficiency;' out of what was less than her own wants required,
(1) Even under the ancient elaborate and expensive economy, God made systematic provision for drawing out the voluntary liberality of His people for many of the purposes of His worship and service. And here we have a quantity of treasure-chests laid out expressly to receive the free-will offerings of the people; and on this the incident before us turns. Much more is the Christian Church dependent upon the voluntary liberalities of its members for the maintenance, efficiency, and extension of its ordinances, at home and abroad.
(2) As Jesus "looked up" in the days of His flesh, so He looks down now from the height of His glory, upon "the treasury;" observing who cast in much, and who little, who "of their superfluity," and who "of their penury."
(3) Christ's standard of commendable liberality to His cause is not what we give of our abundance, but what we give of our deficiency-not what will never be missed, however much that may be, but what costs us some real sacrifice, what we give at a pinch; and just in proportion to the relative amount of that sacrifice is the measure of our Christian liberality in His eye. Do the majority of real Christians act upon this principle? Are not those who do so the exceptions rather than the rule? Can it be doubted that if this principle were faithfully carried out by those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, the wants of all our Churches, our schemes of missionary enterprise, and all that pertains to the maintenance and propagation of the Kingdom of Christ, would be abundantly supplied; or if not quite that, supplied to an extent, at least, as yet unknown? The apostle testifies to the Corinthians of "the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power (he says), yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves; (not needing to be asked, but) praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift (towards the maintenance of the poor saints at Jerusalem), and their share [ teen (Greek #3588) koinoonian (Greek #2842)] of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but (far beyond our expectation) first gave their own selves unto the Lord, and (then) to us by the will of God." (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Are there many in our day like these Macedonian churches? But it would seem that even then they were the exception; because this same apostle says, even of the bulk of Christians with whom he mixed, that "all sought their own, not the things which were Jesus Christ's" (Philippians 2:21). In a comparative sense, no doubt, this was meant. But in any sense it was humiliating enough. O will not the touching incident of this section rouse those who love the Lord Jesus to raise their standard of what He claims at their hands? "How much owest thou unto thy Lord?" is a question which, if but heard by each believer within the recesses of his conscience, in the light of what himself hath experienced of the grace of Christ, might put all his past givings and doings to shame.
What an encouraging word is this of Christ, concerning the poor widow and her two mites, to the poor of His flock in every age! Let them not hide their talent in the earth, because it is but one, but put it out to usury, by "lending it to the Lord." But, indeed, this class go beyond the rich in their givings to Christ. Only we would that each vied with the other in this matter. See, on this delightful subject, on Mark 14:1-11, Remark 6 at the close of that section. And, perhaps much of the fault of the stinted givings of Christians lies with the ministers of Christ for not pressing upon them such duties, and such considerations in support of them, frequently enough, urgently enough, lovingly enough. That is a maxim which deserves to be written in letters of gold (2 Corinthians 8:12): "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).
And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
Far the exposition, see the notes at Mark 13:1-37.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany