Sundays in Mark (45) The Widow’s Offering

Continuing our simple Sunday reflections in the Gospel of Mark.

This week chapter 12:41-42 and the widow’s offering in the Temple.

This text stands in sharp contrast to the public and self-centered righteousness of the scribes in the previous verses. The setting is the Court of the Women within the Temple precincts.

You can imagine Jesus sitting down and watching the crowds go by. Probably unintentionally, within his line of sight was the place where donations were being made to the Temple treasury. According to historical sources there were 13 trumpet-like receptacles for this purpose along the wall of the Court of the Women.

Jesus, as he so often does, takes an opportunity from everyday life to develop a ‘teaching moment’ for his disciples. In this case it comes from his observation of the ease in which the wealthy throw in their substantial gifts compared to an unnoticed, umimportant and obviously poor widow who throws in two tiny coins (leptons) – about 1/400 of a Shekel. (Mark translates this to Roman coinage).

It isn’t just that she could only afford a tiny amount of money, Jesus discerns the real significance of her actions – she could have kept one coin for herself but chose not to. She gave all she had.


Jesus’ ‘truly’ or ‘Amen’ shows he really wants the disciples to get it. The widow is a model for them to emulate. Life in the kingdom of God involves total committment with nothing held back.

The Widow’s Offering

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

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