24th Sunday after Pentecost – St. Mark 12:38-44
I imagine that when you opened your bulletin this morning and saw that the sermon text for today was the Gospel lesson, and that the theme was The widow’s mite, you probably felt a little uneasy. After all, based on the text and the theme, one could not blame you for thinking that this sermon was going to be about money.
But I am going to put your hearts and minds at ease for a moment, this text is not about money. This is not a dreaded stewardship sermon, there are no pledge cards being passed out this morning, nor will you receive a visit this week regarding how much you put in the offering plate.
And all God’s people said: Thank-you Pastor, you may continue.
But before you applaud and we continue with of all things, the offering, you are probably wondering what this text is about, if it is not about money. After all, the focus of this text is on two people putting money into the offering box, and Jesus commenting on it.
As it turns out, this text is actually about something much more serious than money, and over the next few minutes, you may at some point actually wish that this text was about money instead, because if this text were about money, then it would be so much easier to handle: give more, love Jesus, Amen.
No, instead this text is about trusting in God.
Do you trust in God?
An emphatic yes is most certainly your reply. Yes, you trust in God to save you; you trust in God to provide for all of your needs of body and soul; you trust in God to help you in every time of trouble and need; you trust in God with all of your heart, soul and mind.
That is certainly well and good; trusting in God above all things is what Scripture calls on each of us to do.
But the answer that you just gave is the same answer the rich people in our Gospel text would have given. They too would say that they trusted in God above all things; they too would say that they looked to God to provide. If they did not, than it is highly unlikely that they would be putting money into the offering box to begin with.
And to be honest, it is the same answer the poor widow would have given as well.
Yet Jesus praises one, and not the other.
What is the difference? And perhaps more importantly, which do you properly identify with?
Does one trust in God more so than the other?
Impossible for us to say.
What is not impossible to say is that it is much easier to trust that God will provide daily bread, when you have a week’s worth of food already in the house.
It is easy to trust God to protect you when you are already safe, living in small town communities in the middle of a safe and secure nation.
It is easy to trust that God will keep you well, when you are already well.
It is easy to trust that should storm or flood come God will provide the means to rebuild, when you have an insurance policy promising to do so.
Do some trust in God more than others? Well, let’s just say that the rich knew how they were paying for dinner that night, and the poor widow did not.
Perhaps the real question is: do you trust in God to provide, or do you merely trust that God will not interfere with that which you have already secured?
How much trust would you have that God will provide when you are the one standing in the middle of a nation where it is illegal to be a Christian?
How much trust would you have that you can rebuild when it turns out the insurance policy was a fake?
How much would you trust in God to make you well, when you are lying sick in the hospital?
How much would you trust in God to provide, when you put your last two coins in the offering box?
Would you have the same level of trust that the widow has?
The widow is not an example of how much to give to the church or to your favorite non-profit organization. The widow is an example of trusting that God will provide when there is nothing left.
The widow puts in 2 coins, the last two coins she had to her name, and she puts them into the offering box with supreme confidence. Not the confidence that her 2 coins would end world hunger, or that they would bring more people to faith, or even that her 2 coins will pay for the next batch of supplies needed to make the house of God operate.
The widow puts those 2 coins into the offering box with the supreme confidence that God will take care of her; that He will provide for her every need of body and soul.
That is what this text is all about. Trusting that God will provide when there is no way for you to provide for yourself.
Will He provide a prophet who comes and tells you to make him a cake with the very last bit of flower and oil, only to see that flour and oil never run dry? Maybe.
Will He provide a rain shower to come and water the crops and fill the ponds so that you can make the next payment on the house? He could.
Will He provide a gift of money to rebuild that which was so tragically lost in fire and flood? He just might.
Will He provide the best and most when you are in need? He has not promised that; but He has promised to provide.
And that is what makes us wish that this text was all about money; because if it was all about money that we could just give a little more and solve the problem. Instead, this text demands that we trust not in horses or chariots, that we trust not in bank accounts and insurance policies, that we trust not in doctors or governments or anyone else; but that we trust in the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, who has promised to provide for our every need of body and soul.
God has promised this, and we know it to be true. And so we confess that just as God provides food for the birds and sun and rain for the grass, so also will He provide for you, His chosen and precious children, whom He has called by name in Baptism.
And we can take heart that He will provide when we are in need, for He has provided His one and only Son to take our sins away. The ultimate trust we have in God is that by the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Did the rich trust God? They did indeed, for He had already provided them with much. The Lord has also provided you and I with much. We have cars to drive, homes to live in, food to eat, clothes on our backs, and we have it all in abundance.
It is easy to trust in God when He has already provided.
But should the day come when we are like the widow, with nothing left but 2 coins totaling a penny to place into the offering plate, may we also have such trust that the Lord will provide us with all that we need to support this body and life.
For the Lord does not just promise to provide, the Lord actually provides.