The Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44)

If you’ve never studied the ministry and teaching of Jesus in today’s scholarly or evangelical climates, the message of the story in Mark 12:41-44 is very clear. But if you’ve been around those particular blocks a few times, it should strike you as a very peculiar story indeed.

We also know that Jesus hates the exploitation of the poor. And we are told that Jesus is in the process of judging the Jerusalem Temple. It’s evil and corrupt and exploits the people all the time. It’s time is almost over, it has failed. We are told that the moneychangers’ tables in chapter 11 were overturned not in order to cleanse but in order to enact a symbollic judgement upon the whole Temple system.

If this picture of Jesus is correct, how can he stand idly by while this poor woman is hood-winked into donating her final two pennies to the Temple treasury? How is it that his lesson from this event is that she did well? (vv. 43-44) How is it that the Lord was provoked to overturning the moneychangers’ tables, but not the collection boxes? How is it that merely watches as the Temple treasury rakes it in and gives nothing in return?