Today’s Reading: Luke 21
When I begin to think about what Jesus can see, I am amazed. Consider these:
• Jesus sees the past. In John 1, He tells Nathaniel the day he was under a fig tree.
• Jesus sees the future. He prophesies in John 21 about Peter’s death.
• Jesus sees into the heavenly realm and the spiritual battle that goes on when sickness is being conquered. He says in Luke 10 that He saw Satan falling like lightning as the disciples were doing their calling.
• Jesus sees into the minds of people. In Mark 2 when the religious leaders are thinking that He cannot forgive sin and Jesus questions their thoughts.
With all these amazing things that Jesus sees, would He be interested in the scribble on a church tithing envelope? I think He is interested, and He does look at what we give. Consider this opening story in Luke 21.
He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
We get worried too much about what the government can see and what they know about us that we forget something really important. That God is omniscient. And He knows everything that is going on in our lives.
He sees it all. Omniscience is a theological word to describe one of the attributes of God. It means that He is all knowing. That He knows everything about you and me—not just what we do but why we do it.
A few years ago, I was sitting in a meeting next to a very talented graphic designer for a major Christian organization. He told me, “When we are designing something, we always tell ourselves that when people do something, there is the good reason and there is the real reason. Our company always tries to figure out the real reason.”
I was reading the story about the American industrialist, Henry Ford, who was asked to donate money for a new medical facility’s construction in Ireland:
The billionaire pledged to donate $5,000. The next day in the newspaper, the headline read, “Henry Ford contributes $50,000 to the local hospital.” The irate Ford was on the phone immediately to complain to the fund-raiser that he had been misunderstood. The fund-raiser replied that they would print a retraction in the paper the following day the headline to read, “Henry Ford reduces his donation by $45,000 to the hospital.” Realizing the poor publicity that would result, the industrialist agreed to the $50,000 contribution.
Real reason? Saving face.
Jesus knows the real reason—all the time. This is Jesus’ last time in the temple before the crucifixion and His last message to the people. And His last message in the temple is on giving.
Understand this about the offering time at church: He is not just there, He is watching. He knows not only who is giving but what they gave.
He saw the woman drop in her two small copper coins. And the offering that caught His attention was a “no noise” offering.
Let me explain. First remember this: she put in a lepta. It was less than a penny. It was the smallest currency in Palestine. Jesus has to be very close to see someone drop in two pennies. In fact, their nickname was “small change.”
At that time the bigger donation of money, the heavier the money. Literally heavier. The heavier the cash, the louder it was.
Why is loud important? So people could hear your offering make a sound and clap and cheer for you when it hit the brass offering buckets.
The treasury where they placed their offerings consisted of thirteen brass treasure chests called trumpets because they were shaped like inverted horns, narrow at the top and enlarged at the bottom. The rich’s coins on the brass trumpets caused oohing and aahing.
But then when a widow passed by and put in her thin ones, there was no noise from the trumpets. The widow received no noise from the trumpets, but she did get noise from God! Jesus stood up and cheered her offering.
John Calvin got it right when he said that there is a message here for the poor and for the rich:
To the poor: you can always give. Those in poverty can be greedy like anyone else. You don’t need stuff to be greedy. Yet this poor widow gave everything. I have watched just as much greed with little as I have with much.
To the rich: amount is not the issue, sacrifice is. God can do great things with tiny offerings that are a big sacrifice. Don’t be deceived by amounts. They deceive us but not Jesus.
What do you need to remember about giving?
First, only one person that day saw correctly what this woman gave and He was the only one who mattered. Who knew that Jesus was going to be in the audience that day during the offering?
If we knew Jesus was going to be at our church on Sunday, would our worship or our giving be any different?
Well, here it is: Revelation 2:1 tells us that He is always in His church walking among us: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands.”
Also, what Jesus hears and sees is not what everyone else hears and sees. The people did not hear anything. Or if they did, they heard the clanging of the copper. But Jesus heard “all”—all that she had. She did not give copper, she gave it all. I wish we had the rest of the story.
But I guarantee there is one. Because I know God, and He always responds to this kind of giving. This is one of those stories that, when I get to heaven, I want to find out about. “What happened to the widow who now had nothing in her possession after she gave all in the offering?”
Guaranteed she has a story to tell. God will always give you a story when you give it all to Him.