“Many Rich People Gave Much.” – Mark 12:41
- O. Palmer Robertson
Jesus positioned himself in the temple over against the treasury. He was watching to see how the people were contributing their money into the church’s treasury.
What business is that of his? Why should he be gazing with his inquisitive eye to see how much people were putting into the offering plate? Isn’t that a private matter between a person and God alone?
Indeed! But Jesus just happens to be the son of God, equal to the Father in position, power and glory. He has every right to know what people are giving to the work of his kingdom.
At this very moment Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly temple. His authority extends throughout all heaven and earth. At every church he sits, watching to see what people put into the church’s treasury. He watches, not in a judgmental fashion, but to encourage a generosity that will result in the spread of his kingdom.
“Many rich people were putting in much” (Mark 12:41). Is that surprising? It should not be. That’s what rich people ought to do. They should contribute much to the church’s treasury.
Remember the lesson of the manna? He who had much did not have too much, and he who had little did not have too little. Why? Because those who gathered much manna gladly shared their “much” with those who did not have enough.
Jesus watches from his exalted throne in heaven. From that throne, he distributes the riches of his kingdom. He assumes that those who receive much will give generously to those who have not received so much. It’s all a matter of grace, the grace of giving. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich yet for your sake he became poor that you through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
As the Lord Jesus rules globally, so the rich in this world should always think globally. From that perspective, virtually everyone in the West belongs among the rich.
Don’t be surprised to read that many rich people were giving much. That’s the way it should be. How sad it is when few rich people give much.
While Jesus was still watching, one lone poor widow contributed two copper coins, worth about one penny (Mark 12:42). Jesus comments:
“This poor widow has given more than all those others contributing to the church’s treasury. Out of their abundance they all made their contribution. But she out of her extreme poverty gave everything she had to live on” (Mark 12:43, 44).
She could have so easily put only one of her copper coins into the treasury. That amount would have been far more than enough for her contribution. But she gave it all.
Why did she give it all? Because God meant everything to her, even more than life itself.
Should she have given it all? Should she have been a little more frugal? Manifested a little more “common sense”?
You have no right to judge her. No doubt she was trusting God to provide all she needed.
Should everyone follow her example, sell all they have, give to the poor and follow Jesus? If that were the case, God would not have instituted the law of the tithe. For “the tithe is the LORD’s” (Mal. 3:10). He would not have established the principle of proportionate giving. God may expect some, such as the rich young ruler, to sell all. He may expect it of you. If that is the case, then do it. Do it in faith, believing that God will provide all you need for life and godliness.
In any case, if you happen to be among the rich, then be like the rich that Jesus was watching. Place yourself among the many rich people who contributed much, and think no more of it. You will be the richer for it.