March 31, 2015
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “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.”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
He 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. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then 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. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.How 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. They 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.
“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. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be 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.”
LISTEN TO HIM
O.K. Friends, the texts are getting longer this week and because of the gravity of these Holy Week texts (in comparison to what I have to say about them) I am going to shorten my comments. By the time we get to Thursday I may have nothing to say at all. Nothing is more critical this week than the slow, deliberate, even contemplative reading of these texts.
Think about it– apart from these written Gospel accounts, we would know nothing at all about Jesus. This is a week to treasure the text. I encourage you to read it aloud so your ears can physically hear the words. Faith, remember, comes by hearing.
Now to my short comment for the day:
I always understood the story about the widow putting all she had to live on in the temple treasury– as a good thing; a commendation of the widow. When I look again and read it carefully in its context, I am beginning to think it was actually a bad thing.
The reality– it was an indictment on the Temple and its leadership. It’s easy for a wealthy community leader to put in a fraction of a fraction of their wealth into the offering plate while having no idea that it costs the most impoverished among them everything they have to even participate. It gets really interesting when on the heels of this story, Jesus’ disciples start pointing out the extravagance of the Temple decor.
I mean, would that be what Jesus is really after; for the poor to take what little they have and put it into the offering plate? Surely not. Am I missing something here?
So that was the first paragraph in today’s reading. The kicker comes in the rest of it, on which I will not elaborate other than to say it’s all about judgment. Are you seeing the connection
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
P.S. I want to make you aware of a special offer this week from Seedbed. A good friend, Sean Gladding, wrote a riveting account of Holy Week from the perspective of the Roman Centurion. Download it at no charge here.
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.