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A Reckless Love – Dr Steen Olsen

A Reckless Love Mark 12:38-44

St Petri Nuri 11/11/2018

38  As [Jesus] taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39  and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40  They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” 41  He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42  A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43  Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

What if Jesus came here this morning to watch how much each of us put in the offering plate?

The cheek of the man! Who does he think he is?  Doesn’t he know that is confidential? He is breaking the Privacy Act!

A few years back in my first parish we managed to buy a modest church from the Exclusive Brethren.

At the dedication someone put a cheque for $2,000 in the offering – a vast sum in 1979! [At the time a pastor’s salary was $7,570pa + car allowance of $1,050 and 4.7¢/km] I just managed to intercept the treasurer running out the door, shouting at the top of her voice “Who is this generous man?” – She was so excited

1) Jesus also observed many rich people giving large sums – that is as it should be! Those who are wealthy should also pray for the gift of generosity – nothing wrong with that!

It is also not surprising that a poor widow should want to contribute something – that is also right It is surprising that she should give everything she had to live on.  What is mind-blowing is Jesus’ comment is that “this poor widow gave more than all the rich people.  ”What sort of reckless love is this demonstrating?

2) This woman is not tithing.  She is not saying, “10% for God, 90% for me!” She is not at all concerned about doing her Christian or religious duty.  She is not worried about fulfilling the law of God. Her life is not about obedience – it is far deeper than that.

3) We begin to understand the widow by contrasting her with the Scribes Jesus says that they are all bound up in honour, respect, position and power.  And along the way they make a show of praying long prayers and rob poor widows no wonder “they will receive the greater condemnation.”

But these are among the respectable church people.  They are the sort of people we want to count as our friends It is easy to look from afar and criticise

The Scribes have their lives in order they do their duty and fulfil their obligations they are a bit like me!

The widow is reckless.  She gives away all she has to live on Does she die of hunger? Or perhaps head down to the Salvos?

We are not told what becomes of her and it is not important for the story.  It would take us down wrong paths, discussions about social welfare and the like.

4) This poor widow has no one to rely on but God.  Her faith is that God will not fail her Perhaps it is a ‘hope against hope’ and she has reached the point of desperation there is nothing else she can do except throw herself on the mercy of God

Perhaps she recognises what the rich often miss, that our lives are totally dependent on God, even when things are going wel.

The poor widow didn’t make a donation, she offered her life.

You have probably heard the story about a pig and a hen: Early one morning a pig and hen were walking down the streetThey to an open café that had a sign in the window “Bacon & Eggs” The chook said, “I famished – let’s go in and eat.” The pig replied, “No way birdbrain! It’s ok for you. You are only being asked for a donation. For me it is total commitment!”

Rom 12:1-2 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

5) So who do you personally identify with? Think about it. The Scribes or the poor widow? Do you see something of the Scribe’s attitude in your own life?  Concern for self, how others look at you? Are you more concerned about yourself than showing mercy to the needy? When I look in the mirror I see a Scribe lurking beneath the respectable exterior. all is not well with me, and if I am honest the condemnation of which Jesus speaks is richly deserved.

6) Does the poor widow remind you of someone you know?  When I look in the mirror, I have to confess that I see too little of her. I would like to be more like her than I am.

Today it reminds us of the end of The Great War, exactly 100 years ago sadly a second conflict meant The Great War became the first WW They went to war & millions sacrificed their lives, also a reckless love  Over 400k Australians enlisted out of 5M and over 60k were killed 1 in 7 they gave everything for others, including life itself – no small offering

But the poor widow also reminds us of someone else – the one who is telling the story – Jesus Like the poor widow Jesus foolishly-lavishly gives every last bit of himself for us By human standards Jesus death was insignificant – one among millions of unjust executions but like the widow’s mite it is more significant than all the rest. Jesus lived and died for others  He totally depended on God  When he died he took our sin upon himself … So we are forgiven, even for being Scribe-like  That is good news, because we can’t do anything about it ourselves…

7) You can’t make yourself like the widow by an act of your will like making a decision or a commitment just as we can’t control things around us and make sure everything goes well for us so we can’t make ourselves better people we are totally dependent on God and his promises

8) The good news is that by his Spirit at work in us, Jesus empowers us to be more like himself – and like the widow dependent on God concerned for the poor and needy trusting that God will provide, that his plans are always good and for our blessing.  What that means for each of us will vary depending on God’s call to us and the circumstances he places us into. We may not be called to lay down our lives for others in a war or even to give away all our possessions But we are being empowered to be more like Jesus who died for us, so that we might be forgiven and live in him

This is the reckless love of a Christian we don’t know exactly what the future holds even our best, most careful plans can go wrong and the shadow of the cross falls over them. But in the spirit of the poor widow who laid down her life as an offering to God we too can trust God and let our lives be an offering.  Amen.

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