The Unseen Participant

Mark 12:41-44 “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

Often, my dad would say, “People hear what they want to hear, and see what they want to see.” While it may not be a direct quote from the scriptures, there’s a lot of truth in that statement. Mark’s account of an ordinary day at the temple seems to give some validity to the statement. In addition to failing to take notice of the unseen presence of Jesus setting over against the treasury, the multitude failed to take notice of an unseen participant. Notice from the text, it appears that the emphasis is upon special people, “many that were rich” and not the solitary person, “a certain poor widow.” If it were not for the fact that the Lord made special reference to her, no one would have acknowledged her presence, let alone her participation.

Jesus took notice of the unseen participant’s heart in giving, “did cast in all that she had.” When asked what was the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). Unlike the rich, this poor widow’s offering was not in reference to what she had in her hand, but what she had in heart! While others were giving out of their wealth, “cast in of their abundance”; she was giving out of her want, “she of her want did cast in.” If there was one person that would have been justified in keeping what she had, it would have been her, but her heart wouldn’t let her!

Jesus took notice of the unseen participant’s hope in giving, “she of her want . . . even all her living.” This “certain poor widow” had placed her faith in the Master, and not money! This is made clear by the source of her gift, “her want” and the significance of her gift, “her living.” Her gift came not from an abundance, but an absence! The word “want” has the idea of falling short or to lack what is necessary. She lacked what was necessary to sustain her life; yet, she cast in all that she possessed. The world said, “She couldn’t afford to give”; the widow said, “I can’t afford not to give.” The widow at Zarephath proved the faithfulness of God (see I Kings 17:10-16), and this poor widow would do the same!

When considering the unseen participant, the question that we need to ask ourselves is whether we would rather be noticed by the masses or the Master. What we have been called to do may not make the highlight reels at church and our contributions may fall short of being noticed by others, but is the Lord pleased with the passion of our heart and the placement of our hope? While the masses tolerated her presence, they missed seeing the worth of the participant, but Jesus didn’t!