A Priest, a Rich Guy, and a Widow Walk Into Church
Knee Jerk Devotional: Luke 20:41-21:4
Then he put a question to them: "How is it that they say that the Messiah is David's son? In the Book of Psalms, David clearly says,
God said to my Master,
"Sit here at my right hand
until I put your enemies under your feet."
"David here designates the Messiah as 'my Master'—so how can the Messiah also be his 'son'?"
With everybody listening, Jesus spoke to his disciples. "Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preen in the radiance of public flattery, bask in prominent positions, sit at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they'll pay for it in the end."
Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, "The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—she gave her all!"
Once again Jesus goes in on the religious scholars and lifts up the humble. Luke reminds us that the way that Jesus understands the world is upside down from the way that we do. He just sees things differently.
There’s an artist named David Hayward who creates cartoons that are subversive and challenging for mainstream Christian evangelicalism. In one of my favorites there is a pastor at the podium declaring, “Let’s give glory to God!” But, everything else about the church gathering is giving glory to the pastor.
It turns out that we are no different than the religious folks in Jesus’ day.
The pastor when they are doing well get lost. They become nothing more than a mirror to reflect the glory of Christ to the people.
When you look in a mirror you don’t think, “Wow! That’s a great mirror!” No, you see your reflection. The mirror “disappears.”
The religious elite in our day and age make a bit too much news. We are a bit too concerned about our own notoriety and influence. So much so that we miss when we are really doing the work.
Recently, I was talking with a good friend about some of my struggles with wanting to have more “influence.” In other words, I wanted to have more people read, share, watch, and engage with the content that I create. He reminded me that what matters are the conversations and the communities that I have been able to help foster. I had lost the plot a bit in my own desire to sit at the head of the table, so to speak.
As I continue to process this passage, I am thinking that we need to shift our gaze from thinking of religious elites as heroes of the faith to the widows who give their all. These women and men who have little to offer by the way of the world but give everything they have to love well. These are the heroes of the faith. These are the people who show us what godly contentment looks like. These are the people who patiently and faithfully trust God for all they need.
May we all learn the quiet, simple, sacrificial faithfulness of the widow.