True History Is &
The Making Of History
(Read Mark 12:41-13:4)
“But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.”
Jesus was sitting a long time within view of where the offerings were being made and watching those who came to make offerings to God. His disciples sat around him and did as he did. They had no idea why Jesus was looking so intently at the place where the offerings were made, but they watched along with him. The author Mark tells us that there were many rich people who had come to place large amounts of money in the offering pot. It must have been a such spectacle to see the rich people in their fancy attire dropping heavy sacks of money into the offering pot. The noise from the sack of coins hitting the bottom of the pot echoed through the courtyard area of the temple. Heads turned to look at the man who had caused the offering pot to ring. The man’s head swelled with the pride of being noticed by so many people, especially by the priests who acknowledged his offering with an approving nod. Many like him had come that day to do the same thing, and Jesus had watched them and had said nothing. He was still watching. Then out of nowhere, a poor widow made her way to the offering pot and carefully lowered her hand into the pot and set two very small coins in it. No one noticed her. No one seemed to care who she was and what she was doing. The disciples lazily looked around as if she were invisible. But as she was leaving, Jesus now suddenly begins to talk! It was the first time he had said anything about why he was there— watching. Then, he told them this: “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.” (12:43,44) What he taught them there and then was a timeless teaching, worth the whole day’s watching. What was he teaching them?
Actually many things to learn! On that day, Jesus was not trying to teach them that the size of the offering or the amount of it doesn’t matter— because it really does not. Jesus was not trying to teach them that God accepts any offering given to him in faith, as long as it comes from one’s heart— because he does. Jesus was not trying to teach his disciples to offer to God everything they have to live on— because they didn’t have to. Instead, on that day, Jesus was teaching them that (1) an offering made to God is a sacred thing because God is Holy. Jesus was teaching them that offering to God is not a matter of personal choice— whether one chooses to offer to God or not to, but (2) an absolute command of the Living God. Jesus was teaching his disciples and all who follow him that (3) an offering made to God must not be lacking in its essence but must be complete. In other words, an offering given to God must be given with complete love for God as well as given in complete trust in him. Think of this poor widow. Think of her situation. Think of the turmoil in her life— her insecurity at being a widow without means of support— the poverty that must have ravaged her life. As a lover of God, she knew she had to offer to God because the work of God always needs the offering of God’s people. As a worshiper of God, she also knew that she had to offer to God because her Creator commands it. But she only had two coins! She looked at her two coins with teary eyes because it was all she had to live on. She thought to herself: “What should I do? I have no one to help me. If I give this to the Lord, I have nothing to eat today and no one to help me tomorrow. Lord, help me walk before you and do what is right in your sight.” Then wisdom flooded her heart and she resolutely walked to the offering pot and deposited her two coins. It was the right thing to do— because God commands it— because she loves God with her whole heart— because her walk of faith with God didn’t depend on her situation. She would not compromise her faith and trust in God nor her love for him in exchange for a crust of bread today and tomorrow. In that way, she made history.
When she honored God with her two coins, Jesus did not promise that she would find someone tomorrow to care for her needs since she had acted by faith. Jesus did not promise that she would not starve the next day or be cast out on the streets. He did not promise to deliver her from her miserable human circumstances. Jesus seemed to be telling his disciples: “Do you see this woman? She is a woman of faith and of extraordinary courage. She loves God more than she loves a piece of bread. Do you see this woman? She is not ruled by her miserable circumstances. The ringing of many heavy bags of money only reached the ears of those here today in the temple. But the ringing of her two coins has reached the ears of God in heaven. Her faith must be told from generation to generation until the coming of the kingdom of God. She may die hungry, nameless and abandoned. But today, she has become the woman who made offering history.” You don’t have to be one of the Apostles in order to be great, or to make history. If you want to shape history for the glory of God, you just need be absolute towards God— not half hearted or compromising nor double minded— but absolute, as absolute as this woman.
After Jesus made sure that this poor window’s name went down in history, he left the temple area because nothing else impressed him more than her. She was a history maker, and he was the author of history and the fulfiller of history. Most people live in the here and the now, concerned only with what is here today— the events of the day— the famous people of today— the happenings in the fashion world— entertainment— whose rich and whose not, who makes how much. There is no history in most people’s lives, and no history to their lives. To most people, history does not exist past yesterday, or yesteryear, unless there was an event or two in their personal history worth remembering— a graduation, a divorce. Sadly, most people have no use for history, unless it serves some personal interest. But just because people see no real use in history beyond what serves their selfish interests, it does not mean that history is of no importance.
In reality true history encompasses eternity from time before time, when God created the world, set it into motion in time and space, and directed in course of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the coming ages until the passing of time and the coming of the kingdom of God. History is important— more important than petty human personal histories and more important than human events in normal history that happened and events that are still to happen. Jesus Himself is the author of history. He is also the shaper of history and the fulfiller of history. History is therefore, not personal. History is God’s divine providence working to fulfill God’s purpose from the beginning of time to the end of time— the time when everything will finally come around to be judged for how it had lived up to its purpose! Human beings think that we create history, and it serves our purpose for our own benefit. We think history works for us. But even human history that has been shaped so far works only to serve God and his own history— like a tool God uses to shape and guide his own history to that final day. We may think that history is irrelevant just because we are happily making money and nothing else matters. But history is crucial to all of us because in the end, what matters is whether we are found in God’s history or not. History is crucial to us. If we live for the day, paying attention only to the things that affect our lives in the here and the now, and nothing more than that— in the end we will find ourselves outside of God’s history. That’s why Christians are secure, because they are found in God’s history— they are part of God’s history— in but not of the other human history going on around us. But we must not get caught in it, its end is tragic.
Jesus spent the day in the temple watching. Nothing of significance happened to change history or to draw the attention of the author and pilot of history— who is Jesus. Then a woman came with two coins. She may have been wretchedly poor and miserable in her human situation. She may have been nothing— literally a nobody to the human history being shaped that day— the buying and the selling, the wedding, the meals, the politics of the day, even the chants of the priests in the temple. She may have looked totally irrelevant to the scientists and scholars of the day. But she herself knew true history and understood what true history is all about more than any of them. To her, her personal history did not matter all that much— who she was— what she did— what reputation she may have had— who she knew or did not know in high places. To her, history belonged to God. To her, what’s happening in Jerusalem was not important, but what’s happening in God and in his history was important. To her, God was alive and shaping true history according to his own plan. And to her, The Word of God was the instrument by which God shaped his world and the world to come. To her, things like loving God and faith in God were more important than how much money she had today or would make enough tomorrow or who among the senators would be more concerned with the plight of the poor. To her eyes, history was not the overwhelming poverty of her people, nor the political presence of Roman soldiers on the streets of the occupied city of Jerusalem. But to her eyes, history was God’s hand at work in the lives of his people, gathering for himself a people of faith in his Son— and shaping them into an instrument that would preach his word to the world for as long as the world existed. To her eyes, true history was God’s word at work, invisible, blessing the histories of those whose faith honors God. She may have been a nobody. But she knew God’s history well. And she lived in God’s history.
Amazingly, she was the reason Jesus observed the offering place the whole day. Amazingly, she was the object of the Savior’s example and teaching that day. Amazingly, she could do what she did, giving her life. She could be absolute because she understood history well. History was not her and her needs and her family and her circumstances. History was more than her, and certainly more than for her. She understood that history was God and for God and for God’s ultimate purpose. So, she did not live for the present, for the now. She lived for the glory of God. She lived in the history which God was shaping and guiding towards the great end.
The great end! This is a subject of extreme importance. For this reason, Mark saw fit to give it a whole chapter in his short gospel. The great end! For the people who consider history no more than what is going on the world today and how to fit themselves in this world, the great end is irrelevant, useless, and ridiculous. Who would think of the great end, when there is so much history going on today in the world and in my life? But for those who learn that history serves God, we must learn to maintain that view at all times. We must learn to find a way to put our lives to use in such a way that serves God’s history. How can we do so? We must learn true history from the Bible. We must learn true history by studying the Bible. We must learn that in order to shape God’s history with our lives, we must make sacrifices, we must struggle against our natural desires to serve the comforts of the self. We must learn from the examples given in the word of God. We must learn to be examples ourselves. We must learn to be absolute in our faith and in our struggle to obey the word of God. We must also acknowledge the great end— that there will be a great end!
Chapter 13 is about the great end! The end time, the time when human history— the tool which serves God’s history— has served its purpose and laid to rest. The end time, when human history no longer is relevant and all that matters is God’s history coming to fruition. The great end, when what has been done in the world throughout time is now of absolutely no significance, and what is significant is what has been done in the course of God’s history and who has done it. That is the great end, and it is most important to every human beings and especially to the Christian. Chapter 13 is about the great end! Jesus dictated it and Mark wrote it not to scare people. Jesus dictated it because his disciples at the time showed less of a grasp on true history than the poor widow. He dictated it because he saw that his disciples needed to learn to be impressed with things that are happening in the history of God and not with the things that decorate human history from day to day. Jesus gave us many warnings in chapter 13 not to scare us about future events, but to help us to live in his history and to serve his history, because in the end, only the history of God will remain and we must be found and rooted and established in it. Jesus talked about the great end to make us history makers like the poor widow whose life became a living example of absolute faith for the generations to come.
In life we have many choices. We can choose to live in human history and serve our interests of the day. Or we can choose to live in God’s history and serve a history in the making which is moving towards the great end. If we choose the first, the end is tragic. But if we choose to serve the history of God, then we must give ourselves to living in it even today, and decide to become a history maker, and an example of faith to others. The widow’s story seems like another nice story in the Bible. But it is more than a story. It is a piece of history that will last forever. Through it we learn that Jesus does not watch what the world does, but he watches to see what men and woman of faith do in order to advance his history. At the moment, God’s history seems to be shaping through personal Bible study. It is the gospel way to advance the kingdom of God. If we are to understand that history, and shape it, then we have to also fully get involved in it. To study the Bible and to teach the Bible. Our Bible studies can look like nothing like the widow’s offering. Our lives may look like nothing like the widow’s. But in truth I should know that my life and relationship with the Lord and sharing his word with others in this age makes history like the two coins. Bless you to make history in your day to day life. Amen.