11th April 2019

An Expression of the Heart

“Then Jesus sat down opposite the Temple almsbox and watched the people putting their money into it. A great many rich people put in large sums. Then a poor widow came up and dropped in two little coins, worth together about a halfpenny.”
Mark 12:41-42 (Phillips)

“Then Mary took a whole pound of very expensive perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet and then wiped them with her hair.”
John 12:3 (Phillips)

Two very different women gave very different offerings in the last week of Jesus’ life before his crucifixion. Just before Jesus made his triumphant entry into the city he went to a dinner put on by his friends Martha and Mary, and their brother, raised-from-the-dead Lazarus. Mary took some ointment and anointed his feet, wiping them with her hair. Later that week Jesus was sitting opposite the temple treasury watching people throw their money into the offering boxes. He called the disciples’ attention to a poor widow who put in two tiny coins. She’s given all she has.

What a contrast between the two offerings. Mary’s ointment was worth a year’s wages for a labourer, maybe fifteen or twenty thousand pounds today. The widow’s perhaps a halfpenny or less. But their offerings did share one thing in common and that was their very temporary, limited use. The perfume would linger for at the most six days and anyway Mary had anointed the body of a man who would be dead by the end of that week. The tiny coin the widow offered would make no difference at all to the running of the temple and in any case the whole system of temple worship was coming to an end. Soon it would be replaced by the true temple, the man who was sitting opposite that day, Jesus, the Son of God.

So were these offerings a waste? Judas thought Mary’s was a shocking waste. The ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor – maybe some to the widow. But Jesus commends them both. Of the widow Jesus said to the disciples: look at her. About Mary, Jesus said: leave her alone. For both offerings were expressions of the heart. The Holy Spirit saw to it that they were both included in the gospel record. Over two millennia people have read about them. Far from being short-term useless offerings, these acts of devotion have enlightened people in every corner of the world even if they made no lasting difference when they were given, something neither woman could have thought about at the time. We never know what effect our sincere Spirit-led actions will have.

May our hearts speak in all that we do, so that they may be pleasing to you. May we trust you to use them as you will.

Study by Hilary Buck

About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

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