One day Jesus, along with his ragtag team of followers, headed off to the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was a grand place to meet, to discuss the scriptures, and argue points of law. Like the malls of today it was also a great place for people watching. As Jesus made his way along the temple courts many came up to him to question him and challenge his teachings. This was only a day after he had cleansed the temple (Mark 11:15-19). The priests, teachers of the law and the scribes were no doubt angry with him. Seeking to tempt him they questioned his position on paying taxes to their foreign conquers the Romans. They thought to trip him up on marriage and the resurrection. An expert of the law heard him speak with such understanding he too sought his council –maybe to test him.
“Now one of the experts in the law came and heard them debating. When he saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is: ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The expert in the law said to him, “That is true, Teacher; you are right to say that he is one, and there is no one else besides him. 33 And to love him with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Then no one dared any longer to question him.” Mark 12.
With none left to test or debate him, Jesus took seat with his followers across from the treasury. How many times I have read this passage and thought how embarrassing to have others watch what you contribute to the offering yet this seemed to be an acceptable custom in those days. You see the treasury was set inside the women’s court; situated so that money could drop down the brass horn and fall on the unseen mound yet none could see or get to the money in the box. They could hear the money drop. Many came with sacks of money… not pillow sacks mind you but leather purses filled with coin. It is written, “Many rich people were throwing in large amounts.” Imagine the sound of the clinking coins falling down the brass horn and splashing on top the growing pile. Nothing impressed Jesus. But like you and me I suspect his disciples had a few “oooos” and “aaahs” as they watched the rich drop in their coins.
Nothing impressed Jesus. Not until a widow came and dropped in two copper coins that make for us, less than a penny. At this Jesus “called his disciples to him” and he said, ““I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. 44 For they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.” Mark 12:41-42.