【본문】마가복음 12:38~44/히브리서 9:24~28
【제목】많은 헌금, 좋은 제물
Once upon a time there was a pastor who ended up going to Europe to give a sermon. The country he went to was unique in that all who lived there were naked – that was the norm. After he had returned, the wife asked him, “So honey, what were you thinking while you were giving the sermon?” The pastor replied, “All I could think about was whether those people would give offerings or not. I mean they weren’t wearing pants so they had no pockets, which means they probably didn’t have any cash on them so that’s all that preoccupied my mind.”
Another story goes like this… Once upon a time there was a man who operated a chicken coop. He was at church every Sunday but never gave an offering. One day the pastor called him and said, “The things we own were given to us by God. Thus, he is the true owner and we must give back a tenth of what we have earned. That is a disciple’s duty.” After hearing this, the man replied, “I will from now bring in all the eggs that our chickens lay on Sundays.” From then on, he brought hundreds of eggs every week but the number soon began to decrease and eventually the man brought none. When the pastor scolded him, the man said, “Our chickens have begun to keep the Lord’s Day holy and thus, do not lay any eggs on Sundays.”
There are many stories like these that pertain to giving offerings. Why? Because a lot of us tend to question the purpose of it. We ask, ‘why do we have to give it?’ and ‘how much should we give?’ but before our questions are answered, the basket goes around and afraid of what others might think of us, we look around and see how much others are giving and we end up reaching for a similar amount… Although this practice has become difficult to exercise as we now all use envelopes…
However, with time, we make standards for ourselves. We make a rubric saying that this is how much I’ll give on Sundays, how much for special occasions and etc. At this point, we no longer doubt or concern ourselves with the amount, and place it in to the basket with confidence.
Then with time, some will end up in the position of an accountant at the church, and you become aware of how much each person is giving. This might be a time that challenges a person’s faith, because some, whom you believed would give a lot more, give less, and others, whom you thought would give less, give more.
And it’s possible that you begin to see someone as simply a dollar amount. You begin to measure their faith with the amount they give and those in control of the budgeting, also end up arguing about how to allocate the money.
Beloved, church members, I hope I haven’t gotten you all nervous or anxious with all this talk about offerings as today’s topic is not about it. However, because our scripture pertains to the topic, I had no choice but to start the sermon this way. I hope now you’ll relax and together, we’ll decipher the messages embedded within today’s scripture.
First of all, if you look at today’s sermon, you may believe that Jesus is an impish person. Because verse 41 says, “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.”
If I sat down opposite to the place where the offerings were put, and watched how much the members of our church put into the collection box, what would happen? Probably, from this week, the amount of offering would increase greatly, or I would be kicked out for being a greedy priest…
However, Jesus was doing that. Especially, the word “watched” is an imperfect tense, and is not of a temporary act, but is of a constant, repeated act. So Jesus did not just happen to walk by and look at the temple treasury; he repeatedly watched the crowd put their offerings into the temple treasury.
Why would he do such thing? The reason is as it is said in today’s text: Jesus wanted to know how the crowd put their offerings into the temple treasury. To be honest, I am very curious about this as well. I want to know how much our church members put into the temple treasury… However, if I knew, I would not have the confidence to minister… Anyways, I have chosen the method, “sometimes, not knowing is better than knowing”…
In any case, when Jesus was watching, there were 13 temple treasuries in total in the entrance of the church, and in 9 of the temple treasuries, offering were put in instead of regular sacrifices, and the money were used to afford running the church. In the remaining 4 temple treasuries, offerings and money were put in to help the poor, to repair the church, or other used for other special circumstances. Jesus sat down opposite to these 13 temple treasuries and watched the people place their offerings.
Interestingly, the collection (offertory) box was shaped like a trumpet. Hence, it was called the "trumpet box". This box was made of brass, so people could estimate how much money one put in by listening to the sound of coins hitting the bottom. Therefore, Jesus knew that rich people put in many coins, as it is stated in Mark 12:41, "Many rich people gave large sums of money." Another interpretation is that rich people kept putting in coins into the donation box. Thus anyone could tell that they were donating large sums of money.
Regardless of how you interpret, it is a fact that Jesus watched people making offerings, and saw rich people donating a huge amount. If it were me, I would have complimented those rich people, but Jesus did not praise them. He simply commented that they "put in large sums of money."
Jesus also saw another person making an offering. This woman was a widow; she was not just a widow, but a poor widow. Of course, she couldn't donate a large amount of money, so she put in "two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny." Nowadays, it would worth just about a quarter.
Ironically, in Mark 12:43, it is stated "Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others." Even though the widow donated merely "small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny", Jesus said it was more than the amount of what the rich people donated. As an explanation he said "They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."
That was the summary of today's homily... I wonder, what would be the best way to interpret this lesson? Many people commonly say the following when they hear this lecture.
Jesus acknowledged the widow's offering more than he did the rich's, because the widow donated more than the rich in proportion to her income. The rich may have given out more amount of money but the small offering of the widow was all she had possessed; the widow offered her life.
A sincere collection must contain "sacrifice" in itself. Thus, Jesus praised the widow for her little offering full of sacrifice.
This analysis is fully logical. During the Old Testament era, sacrificial offerings and sacrifices were common. The word "sacrifice" is also the same in Hebrew. This is because an offering is a sacrifice and a sacrifice is an offering; an offering without sacrifice would be meaningless.
Eugene Peterson translated verse 44 to the following, " All the others gave what they'll never miss." In another word, people gave away just enough that they wouldn't regret it.
Even Kim Young-Bong priest said the large amount of offerings the riches make do not affect their lives in anyways. On the other hand, the widow, despite offering pitiful amount of money, gave everything she could. Let me be clear though. Here, Jesus isn't saying that you should offer everything you have without taking care of yourself. He is saying, "Giving until it hurts".
I hope you and I all learned a valuable lesson today and ruminate upon the widow's sacrificial mind.
Also, it was mentioned that Jesus complimented the widow, because she offered all of her property for him. So a sincere offering is also called ‘offering all I have to live on.’ If I preach like this, maybe many people would be getting tense: at last Minister Shin shows his true colors… she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on
Even though you misunderstand what I mean, I should still say again that the sincere offering is ‘the offering all I have to live on’ because everything out of our possession is not actually ours, but God temporarily entrusted the property to us. So whenever making an offering, we have to remember that we confess that all of our possessions are from God. We must not give some parts of our possessions; however we have to put an offering with a meaning of our confession that all that we got is from God.
The offering cannot be ‘a sincere offering’ if we have no determination to give all our life. Offering all the widow had to live on was a really sincere offering, even if she offered a little. Anyway, in this case, considering the ratio of her offering to the others’, the widow’s was greater than the rich people’s, and had her sacrifice much more than the others’.
Is that really what he meant though? The word ‘more’ in verse 43 is a comparative degree. When you compare A with B, A could be more, but when you compare A with C, A might not be more. So who are we supposed to compare with?
Then with this logic, Jesus is someone who compliments those who give more offerings in terms of quantity or quality.
But did it really matter to Jesus how much we were offering? Was he truly someone who complimented those who gave many and reprimanded those who gave few?
After contemplating for a while, I realized that he did say “the poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others,” but he didn’t really say it was the proper amount of offering.
As we know, many rich people threw in large amounts and the poor widow put only a fraction of a penny. But Jesus said that she gave more than the other people.
So what Jesus meant was while the rich put in large amount of money, the poor has also put in much (more). We cannot just look at the amount of money to decide whether a person has put “more” than the other person. This is not a matter of whether an offering is true or false, but rather an interpretation of whether the offering is more or less.
Mark 13:1 says “As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
Luke 21:5-6 says “Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down”
When Jesus saw that a poor widow came and put two small coins, he complimented by saying that she had more sacrifice and dedication than the rich people who had threw in large amounts. After that, he said that although the offering is maintaining the temple, eventually the temple will fall no matter how much offering the people are putting in.
The temple will fall eventually despite the rich people putting in large amounts to maintain the temple and despite the poor people dedicating all they had to live on.
We also looked at verses from Hebrews 9, verse 25 reads, “Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.”
Whenever the priests were about worship to God, they had to give an offering before entering the sanctum. As we know this is because during the Old Testament there were five types of offerings that could be given: burnt offering, offering of atonement towards God, offering for cleansing, offering of animals, and offering to cleanse our skin… To worship God, they had to prepare an offering. Therefore an animal; such as cow, sheep, or goat, was offered. According to their economical status they also gave birds or crops. Moreover, to worship God in the Old Testament, they had to give such offerings. Thus, those offerings were the beginning of what we now give offerings of money and oblation today.
But in verse 26, “Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” In the Old Testament, you had to give an offering of an animal for your entire life; but since Jesus Christ shed His blood on the cross, the offering was given all at once. Also, this offering was said to be ‘better sacrifices.’
Thus, what Jesus said in the verses from today, about how the rich threw in “large amounts,’ and how the poor widow has ‘put more into the treasury than all others.’ Moreover, the amount does matter. I do not mean to compare the amounts with others. This is because the church that is built upon money is bound to fall.
Now a new church will be built… At this church we will be praising Jesus Christ who abided to become a better sacrifice.
Loving believers, since there are many rich people in our church, I would like for them to give more offerings. They should also become like the poor widow and ‘put more into the treasury,’ so that there would be no hardship during my pastoral. But what I would sincerely like is that our church become like Jesus Christ who was a ‘better sacrifice,’ so that we could give ourselves to God; so that our church could offer to God a complete worship.
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