Does MY life matter? This question is obviously on the minds of many across the USA and around the world. We can, without equivocation say, “Yes, YOUR life matters to God…and subsequently to many others.” Still, that is getting ahead of ourselves just a bit.
As the Passover celebration in Jerusalem drew closer during the Biblical era, Hebrew people from across the Levante would gather for the celebration. How big was the crowd? How busy was the feast? Tacitus reported that the population of Jerusalem at this time was greater than 500,000. Josephus wrote that 2.7 million were inside the walls of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
It was into this beehive of celebration that Jesus brought his disciples. Jesus sat in the court of the Women of the Temple. This may have been one of the busiest places in all of Jerusalem. It was here that people would bring their various offerings for the Passover feast. The offerings would be deposited into 13 chests with an artistically crafted collection device atop each. People commonly called the devices trumpets because of their shape and the noise of the offering rattling down to the chest below. Jesus watched the masses of people moving between collection points, as they fulfilled their religious duty ascribed in the record of the Old Testament and the teaching of the Rabbis.
An event, appearing simultaneously life changing yet unexceptional, is recorded by two of the gospel writers (Mark chapter 12 and Luke chapter 21). This event happened in the blink of the eye. None of Jesus’ disciples and none of the thousands of people in the Temple Courtyard noticed. Only Jesus noticed a poor woman come through the crowd, approach one of the “trumpets,” and drop her offering of two small coins.
Both Mark and Luke describe this woman as a widow. Other than that description, we do not know if anyone else noticed her. Did other, wealthier pilgrims to Jerusalem become irritated as she was in the way as they rattled their offering through the trumpets? Did people ignore her because she did not matter?
There is no mention of Jesus stopping this woman to speak with her, nor is there any mention of Jesus changing the widow’s circumstances. Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus saw the woman, called his disciples to him, and pointed out her faith and commitment to God. I wonder why there is no record of Jesus speaking to this woman? After all, he spoke to women throughout his ministry in many different circumstances. I wonder why Jesus did not change the remainder of this widow’s life? After all, he changed the life of the woman at the well (John 4). He raised to life the dead body of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7). He set free the woman caught in adultery (John 8).
I am left with a number of questions to which I will never know the answer. However, I do know this – Jesus saw this unseeable woman. He saw her life, and it was worthy of calling his disciples over to show them what this woman looked like. I have learned many things from 45 plus years of studying these few verses. In 2020, during a year of social unrest, a year of people asking whose life matters, Jesus has reminded me that EVERY life matters.
If culture and society are telling you, “You need to know your place; this is as far as you can go.” Jesus sees you and you matter to God! The area of this event was called the Court of the Women, because women could go no further. Jesus took this opportunity to see and point out the faith of a woman. I want everyone to know their place…and it is in the sight and appreciation of Jesus.
If people are ignoring you because of your financial poverty, Jesus sees you, and you matter to God. I can imagine that there were moments when people wanted this widow to get out of their way! They were busy and they had more money. Jesus looked past the focus of human nature into the face of humanity. If poverty results in people looking down upon you, Jesus sees you!
If your family has found some reason not to support you, Jesus sees you, and you matter to God. Where was this woman’s family? Where were her children? Where was her husband’s family? According to custom, they were to take care of her. If you are feeling alone because your family pays you no attention, Jesus sees YOU!
If you sense that people of faith do not care about you, Jesus sees you, and you matter to God. The priests and rabbis paid this woman no attention. Jesus’ disciples did not notice her…but Jesus made sure they remembered this widow for the rest of their lives.
If you think others in your own social strata don’t value you, Jesus sees you, and you matter to God….
This is an era when it is really easy to wonder if anyone really cares about you. Are people ignoring me because of my race? Do people hate me because I am a police officer? Poverty and gender can cause people to be relegated to a position of lower value. We cannot cure all the ills of the world, but we can today tell you that Jesus sees YOU. God loves you. There are people who follow Jesus who care for you, because Jesus has recreated them in his image! In that there is hope everlasting!