Her character: Though extremely poor, she is one of the most greathearted people in the Bible. Just after warning his disciples to watch out for the teachers of the law, who devour widows' houses, Jesus caught sight of her in the temple. He may have called attention to her as a case in point.
Her sorrow: To be alone, without a husband to provide for her.
Her joy: To surrender herself to God completely, trusting him to act on her behalf.
Key Scriptures: Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4
With Passover approaching, the temple was packed with worshipers from all over Israel. The previous Sunday, Jesus had created a sensation as he rode down the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem, mounted on a donkey. A large crowd had gathered, carpeting the road with palm branches and shouting: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest."
Some of the Pharisees, scandalized that Jesus was being hailed as Messiah, demanded, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
Stung by his words, the teachers of the law began to plot how they could break the law by murdering him at their first opportunity.
Days later, after warning his disciples to watch out for the teachers of the law who preyed on widows for their money, Jesus sat opposite the temple treasury, in the Court of the Women. The place was crowded with people dropping their offerings in one of the thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles that hung on the walls. But Jesus had eyes for only one of them. He watched as a widow deposited two small copper coins, less than a day's wages.
Quickly, he called to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."
No one else would have noticed the woman. But Jesus, with eyes that penetrated both her circumstances and her heart, recognized the astonishing nature of her gift. Her gesture was a sign of complete abandonment to God.
Without faith, she wouldn't have offered her last penny, believing God would care for her better than she could care for herself. But there is yet another, more subtle aspect to Her Story. How easy it would have been for her to conclude that her gift was simply too meager to offer. What need had God for two copper coins anyway? Surely they meant more to her than they would to him. Somehow she must have had the grace to believe in the value of her small offering.
Maybe God, in a manner of speaking, did need what she had to offer. Perhaps her gesture consoled Jesus a short time before his passion and death. She had given everything she had to live on; soon, he would give his life.
The story of the widow and her two copper coins reminds us that God's kingdom works on entirely different principles than the kingdom of this world. In the divine economy, the size of the gift is of no consequence; what matters is the size of the giver's heart.
God's promise of provision is nowhere more evident than in this story of the widow who gave all she had. She had no one else to rely on—only God. That's true of us as well, isn't it? Regardless of our financial situation, whether we are financially well off or constantly skimming the bottom, we have no one else to rely on. Our true security is not in our belongings or our bank accounts, but in God alone. And he has promised to provide.
This devotional is drawn from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Used with permission.
Though extremely poor, she is one of the most greathearted people in the Bible.