Have you ever been in a stressful situation where the stress seemed like it was going to cut off your ability to breathe? Perhaps it was during exam time or maybe you had to face the boss about a big error you had made. Maybe you had fallen behind in your payments and the pressure was mounting. Maybe your test results came back and the doctor wanted to see you. I think we all have had a time or two when we thought the stress would kill us.
Did you notice during those times how you took comfort in the little things? Do you remember that cup of tea that tasted like a million dollars? Or that phone call with your sister when you didn't really talk about anything? Maybe it was that walk you took with your significant other and all you did was hold hands. Perhaps it was sitting alone on that park bench watching the sun disappear over the horizon. It is amazing how in the stresses of life it is the seemingly insignificant that grounds us and gives us some hope. For Jesus that moment came from a widow.
Too often we take what Jesus did as a non-event. What's the big deal, he never felt stress? We forget that Jesus came as one of us, with all the traps, pitfalls, emotions, temptations. The only difference was that he overcame all the failings and remained perfect. But just from what we are told of what happened in the garden, we know Jesus was feeling the stress of the situation. These were the last couple of days before the crucifixion and he didn't want to do it. He was doing it because obedience to his father's will was more important than anything else.
Remember with what Jesus was surrounded. He saw a people led astray, leaders who cared only for themselves. He saw a people who were so lost in religion that they couldn't even recognize the Creator who walked among them. He saw the filth of sin and a lack of faith. He saw, after 3 years, that only a glimmer of what was taught had been held on to. He saw a people who just couldn't grasp the reality of the situation. And then along came the widow.
Remember the number of times Jesus was surprised by faith. Remember the Samaritan woman who came seeking favour. Remember the Centurion who sought healing for another. And here, in a very dark moment, Jesus is encouraged by the simple act of a widow:
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. (Luke 21:1-2)
The seemingly insignificant, like a passing butterfly or a common sunset. We all know this story but I want you to hear Jesus' words again as he draws attention to this act of faith and dedication, this act of love:
“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3-4)
Is that not a perfect illustration of the heart that God is wanting in his children? Is Jesus not underlining a key part of our relationship with God? Did he not tell us that we need to love him with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our soul, all of our strength? Did Jesus not say that we would have to lose our life to gain it? Did he not say that everyone who would come after him would need to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him? Did he not tell us it is all or nothing?
Then two days later Jesus gave his all.
How cheap is our faith? How many of us only give out of our riches? We give a lot but it is only a small portion of what we have. We live with a tithe mentality when God has called us to 100%. How many of us are shamed by that widow's offering yet we now know God better than she did. Perhaps we are lying to ourselves. Perhaps we don't know God as much as that widow. There has to be some explanation of why we could watch Jesus go to the cross and not be provoked by love to dedicate 100% of ourselves and all we possess to the one who gave 100% for us.
This is indeed a week of reflection.