“A defender of widows . . .”
This week, as Erik Thoennes preaches from the gospel of Mark, we see a side of Jesus that we haven’t previously seen: the Son of God acting as a righteous judge.
“As He taught, Jesus said, ‘Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.’”
This is shocking. The religious leaders, who should’ve know better, get called out publicly for using their religion as a means for personal gain and adulation. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet! Jesus’ assessment of them had to hurt, and they were humiliated. Did they change? Hopefully. But more likely, it made them want to get rid of this Jesus all the more.
Undeterred, and in order to make His point by contrast, Jesus placed Himself where He could watch Jews of all stripes, sizes, and socioeconomic statuses give to the temple treasury. Having just pointed out how the teachers of the law took advantage of widows, Jesus observed a poor widow throwing in two small copper coins worth a fraction of a penny.
Let’s talk about widows and God’s care for a moment: What do we know to be true? God watches out for widows. This widow had great faith as she gave all that she had, and her faith was based on the character of God. Perhaps she remembered the story of how God cared for a widow during the time of Elijah the prophet.
God reassured Elijah that He would provide for him, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, particularly to the widow who had to do the providing when she was out of resources . . . or so she thought!
“‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ So, he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.’ And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’
“And she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son that we may eat it and die.’
“And Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’
“And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that He spoke by Elijah.”
1 KINGS 17:9-16