Mark 12:38-44 38 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, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
41 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. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
The only standard that matters is God’s standard. Jesus is putting condemnation on the teachers of the law (the scribes) here. They were focused on external appearances and they were constantly coming out against Jesus because He was undoing their authority and their appearance.
The Pharisees and the scribes were at the top level in the Jewish world back then, but they were creating the standards that put them there. Then after they set the standards they judged everyone else by those standards.
Now Jesus is judging them. They dressed to impress. They expected people “in the market place” to recognize them and treat them with honor and respect. They wanted the people to realize they (the people) were lower then themselves. They weren’t about glorifying God at all. They were prideful.
Where Jesus mentions, They devour widows’ houses, the Pharisees would come to a new widow and become her financial advisor and convince her to give over her money to the Synagogue.
This passage shows us that if you strive for just the world’s approval you will get God’s condemnation in the end. The first word Jesus says in verse 38 is “Beware”. We must beware too because just like the scribes we will be tempted to put ourselves first: to want the world’s approval and to be tempted to judge other people. Christ is the only judge.
Next Jesus sits opposite the treasury and observes the people giving. A widow puts in the two smallest coins there were at that time. The penny mentioned is our equivalent of the least coin.
The temple was opulent! Would 2 pennies toward their budget make a difference?
Not by man’s standards. But by God’s it was massive. He knows what we are able to give and God judges on proportions. God sees our hearts.