Sermon Notes – November 11, 2018

Compare and Contrast – Mark 12:43-44

 Ron White is a navy veteran who honors those heroes killed in our ongoing war in Afghanistan.  He honors them by remembering each one of them individually.  He travels the country with a portable wall, 50 feet long and 7 feet tall, on which he writes, in order of their deaths, the rank and name of the more than 2,300 men and women who lost their lives.  It is an astounding feat of memory which honors the heroes’ far greater feat of love and patriotism.  We, as citizens of the United States, need to remember those military who died (Memorial Day), those who put their lives on the line (Armed Forces Day), and those who, having served, had put their lives on the line (Veterans Day) for us. 

   We, as members of the holy Christian Church, also need to remember.  We have a long list of heroes of the faith.  Our calendar and our readings are filled with those who took up their crosses and followed Jesus with extreme piety and absolute obedience, serving Christ and His people by denying themselves. 

     We know the names of many, but some, such as the poor widow in today’s Gospel (Mark 12:38-44), remain unnamed.  Unnamed she may be, but the widow with her two small copper coins (a.k.a. mites) is remembered with every Mite Box collected by the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.  Those small mites add up to big bucks for mission work. 

   Jesus notes the contrast between the large sums offered by the rich people and the two small copper coins offered by the poor widow.  It is not the large gift vs. the small gift that He distinguishes.  Nor does He in this text disparage what the rich people give.  There is no comparison of motives or faith. Jesus does note, however, the rich people “all contributed out of their abundance, but [the widow] out of her poverty put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  When we take our pocket change and give it to missions in a Mite Box it probably isn’t everything we had to live on.  For the poor widow who plunked her two little coins in the offering box it was a sacrifice. [The Bishop’s Wife, the rich widow and the professor’s coin]

   I will resist contrasting the poor widow with the scribes “who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers.”  Jesus states the contrast we need to know, “They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Mark 12:38-40)

   We’ve got time left, so with whom can we make a comparison with the poor widow who gave everything she had?  Our text, chronologically, takes place during Holy Week.  Who, during Holy Week took up a cross, radically obeyed the heavenly Father, denied Himself and gave everything He had.  We sang the answer in our Hymn of the Day: “At last [Jesus] brought His offering and laid it on a tree; There gave Himself, His life, His love for all humanity.”  (LSB # 787, stanza 4)  We heard the answer in our Epistle: “[Jesus] appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26)  You received the answer in the absolution:  “In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins.” (LSB, page 151)

   Every Sunday we ultimately focus our attention on THE HERO of our faith, Christ Jesus.  Every Sunday we pay a visit to Good Friday and Easter Sunday so that we remember His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins.  This Sunday, a poor, unnamed widow helped us by being an object lesson of sacrifice, a type of the Christ who, later that same week, “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

We remember that we were ransomed from sin and death “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” (1 Peter 1:18-19)  We remember we, “who were dead in [our] trespasses…God made alive together with [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)  We remember “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for [our] sake He became poor,” so that out of His poverty He could give everything He had, “so that [we] might become rich.”  (2 Corinthians 8:9)


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