In this week's study of Mark 12 we saw a beautiful picture of a widow who literally brought all that she had to live on, all the money she had in the world, and gave it to the collection at the temple. It's an extremely challenging story for so many reasons. Who of us can say we are so selfless? Would we ever come anywhere close to that level of generousity? Do we love God in the same wholehearted way?
But what bugged me as I studied this passage was the question "haven't we seen this sort of thing before in Mark?" Is Mark just repeating himself here? Haven't there been many poor, oppressed, devestated people in Mark's Gospel in the previous 11 chapters who have also loved God and found favour in Jesus' sight? Why do we need to see this again?
This is where thinking about the context of the passage really helps. This widow, along with a singular scribe, are the only people in this entire section about Jesus' coming judgement on the temple and all the false religion that surrounded it who are not judged. They stand out as exceptions, within a wider scene of destruction and cursing from Jesus who is God's righteous king.
And as such the story is a remarkable ray of hope for anyone who understands the severity of Jesus' indictment of false religion. Who of us can say that we are worthy of being called true worshippers? And yet for those who approach God and seek him honestly, genuinely and wholeheartedly, there is indeed hope.