God’s Word for You
Mark 12:43-44 The Copper Magnificat (Part 2)
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 8, 2022
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (NIV)
Some questions come into my mind as we hear these verses. Did the widow hear Jesus as he spoke about her? Did she become one of his disciples now or later? And what is the difference between “out of their wealth” and “out of her poverty”?
The first questions cannot be answered, but it would be a mistake to insist that she couldn’t have heard him. “Jesus frequently uttered words of commendation in the hearing of those whom he wished to praise.” The woman suffering from bleeding is an example (Mark 5:34), and the Centurion with the paralyzed servant is another (Matthew 8:10). Of course, the second question is impossible, but we would like to think that she did. More than this: It would be verging upon the tragic if she did not become Jesus’ disciple, since the Holy Spirit caused this incident to be recorded by both Mark and Luke. But since it is unwise to ask unanswerable “what ifs” and “what if nots” of the Scriptures, let us move on to the question that touches each of our hearts: The difference between “out of their wealth” and “out of her poverty.”
Her very name raises a high bar, a standard for us to strive for, for she is the woman who gave “the widow’s mite.” Such a gift is very nearly impossible for any of us to give, and yet she, a sinner, gave it. Immediately, we must cast aside the comparison of the monetary value of her gift and anything we might give. This is because the gift itself was a good work, the outward expression of her faith. What must be considered is not her faith and how it went to work, but my own faith, and whether it works at all. Works or deeds cannot be separated from faith, because if this happens then the works lead to vanity, and the works seem to be something great all by themselves, and God’s glory vanishes. Faith is trust in God and in Christ because of the delightful promises of God: the forgiveness of our sins, new life in this world to live to God’s glory, the promise of death without terror because of the promise of the resurrection, and the life of the world to come. This is the faith of the woman with her little copper Magnificat, her praise of God with such little coins. They were too little to live on. I don’t think they would have bought her any bread, flour, oil, or wine. It’s not that they had no value to her. They did. They were all she had. Out of her poverty, she gave everything.
Let’s remove her gift from the world of money. What if a man were told he had four months to live? He might think that he was suddenly poor in years, and he would be right. But what would he do with that poverty of time, a poverty he could not change? Would it mean four months to carouse? For months to wallow in self-pity? For months to sulk? Or would he see them as four months to give God glory, to serve God, and to do something for the church of God? Whether a person shepherds the church (Acts 20:28) or serves its people in some other way (3 John 1:6), this is how faith thinks about what it has, whether a dearth or a wealth. How can I show my faith with what I have, whatever it might be? It is God who gives the things we possess. What we do with them is the giving of glory to God, the giving of a life to its full, the giving even of a few meager copper coins. Faith is the gift God gives, along with life, abilities, abundance or at least enough; using my faith is appreciating those gifts, those gifts which are enough, whether my cup overflows, or whether I recognize that “crumbs, crumbs are enough.”
Pastor Timothy Smith