Print this Page

Mark’s first-century biography – page 38

And, in his teaching, he (Jesus of Nazareth, c. AD 30, Jerusalem) stated, “Look away from the scribes: -
- desiring to walk around in long robes, and greetings in the marketplaces, and prime seats in the synagogues, and prime places at dinners; 
- consuming the houses of the widows; and 
- for show praying long prayers.
Those will receive abundantly more judgment.” 
“Abundantly more judgment”? A scribe has just used the words “abundantly more” in speaking with Jesus. “Correct, Teacher. In truth you said that he (the Lord God) is one. And no other is - except him. And to love-in-action him with all one’s heart and with all one’s being and with all one’s ability, and to love-in-action one’s neighbour as oneself, is abundantly more than all of the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Jesus commended him for saying this.

Totally to “love-in-action” the Lord God (and one’s neighbour as oneself) is “abundantly more” valuable than all offerings and sacrifices. Now Jesus himself uses the same words - “abundantly more” - but this time the context is “judgment”. The end result of the “desiring” and “consuming” and “for show praying” of the scribes would be “abundantly more judgment”.

(Apparently, they were “consuming the houses of widows” by paying a widow a pitiless annuity in exchange for receiving her freehold house at her death.)

And, having sat down over against the secure treasury, he observes in what way the people put coins into the secure treasury. Many rich people put many. 

The “secure treasury” was the place where coins for God and the poor were received and guarded. All coins had intrinsic value. Notes had not yet been conjured into being valuable. Nor bank balances. 
The word – used three times – “secure treasury” is a noun in the original Greek gazophylakiou. Gaza (noun) = treasure; phylasso (verb) = to guard.  Whilst the “secure treasury” was there in AD 30, the word hints of a “secure treasury” above for those who, on earth, "love-in-action" the Lord God.

‘Put away riches for yourselves in heaven… For your heart will be where your riches are.’ (From Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount) 
And one impoverished widow, having come, put in two lepta, which are a kodrantes

We know that a kodrantes was one-sixty-fourth of a denarius which was one day’s pay for a labourer. A kodrantes would then be roughly £1 today. The widow placed 2 x 50 pence coins. Just one would have been half-hearted.

And having called near his disciples he said to them, “Truly, I state to you, this impoverished widow put in more than all these putting into the secure treasury. For they all put out of their abounding, but she out of her need has put in as much as all she has, her whole life.”

Yet again, the word “abounding” is spoken. The scribes were intent on all forms of abounding - desiring primacy, consuming, pretending to be godly. Not only would such abounding result in “abundantly more judgment” but also offerings out of an “abounding” way of life are of very low value in Jesus’ sight. 

But it may well be that today’s readers of Mark’s biography need to notice that the verb “to put” (Greek ballo) is used seven times. Perhaps we are intended to notice that no one is recorded as giving gifts. They are “putting” coins into the secure treasury. If I give away something which has been given to me, I’m not giving, I’m merely putting another’s gift elsewhere. All have been given life, strength, intelligence… All put in out of that “abounding”.

The poor widow has also received gifts from above. She remained desperately needy – and she knew that only too well. But it seems that she knew that what she did have – including two leptas - she had received as gifts from above.  She, in "her need" was thankful.

This poor widow is loving-in-action in accordance with the two greatest commandments first recorded centuries earlier and repeated by Jesus a few minutes earlier. “The first is … The Lord our God, the Lord is one … you shall love-in-action the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your life and with all your mind and with all your ability … the second is … you shall love-in-action your neighbour as yourself.”

‘Amazing love, O what sacrifice, the Son of God given for me. My debt He pays, and my death He dies, that I might live, that I might live.’ (Graham Kendrick, hymn writer) 
It wasn’t surprising that Jesus wanted his disciples to understand the reality of their debt, their need and the two greatest commandments. And to follow?
Sinner Syvret

Email this newsletter to a friend
*All mandatory fields must be filled in

Friend`s name
Friend`s email address *
Your name
Your email address *

Send comment
*All mandatory fields must be filled in

Your name *
Your email address *
Your comment *