Mark 12:41-44  The Widow’s Offering

There seems here to be the beginning of a transition. And yet there is also a contrast* between the previous passage (the hypocrisy of the scribes) with the generous sacrifice of the poor widow here (the very group whom the scribes were said to prey upon in 12:40).** Jesus is observing people putting money into the offering for the Temple.

Many rich people put in large sums. (v. 41)

But this poor widow “put in two small copper coins” (v. 42, emphasis mine). The coins were almost worthless. She had almost nothing, yet she held nothing back. She “put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (cf. v. 44). Jesus seizes the teaching opportunity:

And he called his disciples to him (v. 43)

His instruction begins with the emphatic “Amen” (think “Verily, verily” if you still speak in King James English – “Truly, truly”) so we know that what follows is important!

…this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty… (v. 43-44)

For Lane there is a parallel here with the call of the gospel

“It was this that the disciples needed to understand, for the call to the gospel is a call for absolute surrender to God and total trust in him.” – William Lane

Could he be onto something here? Could this pericope be about more than just generosity when it comes to financial giving? Could it be that, as followers of Jesus, we are called to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Rom. 12:1), as reasonable service (N/KJV), or spiritual worship (ESV)? Could it be that, as disciples of Jesus, we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Jesus isn’t really asking us to give of our time and talents in addition to our treasure, is He? Disciples are called to imitate their Master. Like this widow, Jesus gave all. Even to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). Can we truly call ourselves His followers and yet do less?

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Jesus (Mark 8:34, emphasis mine).


*Lane, NICNT, p. 442
**Cole, TNTC, on 12:41-44