Luke 21 (NIV)
The Widow’s Offering
The Widow’s Mites
by Richard Crashaw (c. 1613-1649)
Two mites, two drops, yet all her house and land,
Fall from a steady heart, though trembling hand :
The other’s wanton wealth foams high, and brave ;
The other cast away, she only gave.
1As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3“I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
What, in God’s eyes, determines the value of a gift?
- Remember that God does not need our money–it is our privilege to give to Him; giving is necessary for our sake, not for God’s sake.
- A gift’s value is determined by the spirit in which it is given. God doesn’t want grudgingly given money, or guilt money-God loves the cheerful giver.
- The value of a gift is determined by what it cost the giver; this is what made the widow’s gift so valuable. David refused to give God that which cost me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).
Signs of the End of the Age
5Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
When the disciples praised its grandeur to Jesus (v. 5), the temple was in the midst of an eighty-three-year building program. Started about 20 B.C., it continued until A.D. 63-64, just a few years before Jerusalem’s fall in A.D. 70. Assuming an A.D. 33 date for the crucifixion, the program was over fifty years old at the time the disciples marveled at it. The temple clearly made a deep impression on all who visited it. Josephus gives detailed descriptions of its beauty (Jewish Wars 1.21.1 401; 5.5.1-6 184-227; Antiquities 15.11.1-7 380-425). The Roman historian Tacitus also describes the temple as containing great riches (History 5.8.1). Some of its stones were 12 to 60 feet in length, 7.5 feet in height and 9 feet in width (Josephus Jewish Wars 5.5.1-2 189-90 gives these measurements in cubits; a cubit is eighteen inches). The temple loomed over the city like a “snow clad mountain” (Josephus Jewish Wars 5.5.6 223). Not only was the building impressive, but it was decorated with gifts from other countries and had elegantly adorned doors and gates of fine craftsmanship (Josephus Jewish Wars 5.5.3-5 206-18).
No wonder the disciples felt national pride as they surveyed the awesome temple, exclaiming at its beautiful stones and . . . gifts dedicated to God. Surely something so magnificent and God-honoring, something that had taken so long to build, would last a very long time. God’s presence finally had a secure home.
Jesus’ response must have come like a knife in the heart: “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” It is hard for us to appreciate the effect on Jewish ears of what Jesus predicts here. . . The magnificent temple, the center of the nation’s worship and the sacred locale of God’s presence, will be destroyed and turned into a heap of rubble. Centuries of worship and years of reconstruction will be brought to an end. The only way this can occur is if Jerusalem is overrun.
–from The IVP Commentary on Luke
7“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
When you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified: All these things preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. Were there wars? The Romans were frequently at war with the Jews, the Samaritans, the Syrians, and others during this period. Were there earthquakes? Historians tell us of great earthquakes in the Roman Empire before Jerusalem was destroyed. Were there famines? Acts 11:28 tells of one in this period. Were there fearful sights? Pompeii blew its top just seven years before Jerusalem was destroyed. Were there signs in the heavens? Not long before Jerusalem was destroyed, a comet that looked like a sword hung over the city by night for a year.
12“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
Psalm 7:1 (NASB)
O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me.
16You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17All men will hate you because of me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By standing firm you will gain life.
To see a 19th century painting of the destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts, click HERE — the details cannot be seen when I shrink it to fit the blog — and then read the following verses. . .
20“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
When the Romans were done with Jerusalem in 70 A.D., not a single Jew was left alive in the city. The Romans eventually renamed the city Aelia Capitolina, and for many years would not allow a Jew to even enter what was formerly known as Jerusalem, except on one day a year—the anniversary of the fall of the city and the destruction of the temple, when Jews were invited to come and mourn bitterly.
25“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.
Romans 14:17 (ESV)
For the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
HERE is a Taize song — “The Kingdom of God.” Let this be our song every day!
The Kingdom of God is justice and peace
and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us
the gates of your kingdom.
32“I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
37Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.
Deuteronomy 4:10 (ESV)
‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’