Saturday, November 5, 2011

People-Watching with Jesus

I'm taken totally by surprise by the way the story of the widow's offering illustrates Jesus' love for people. Just consider how Matthew begins the story by describing Jesus in a seemingly rare moment of uninterrupted downtime while sitting amidst a crowd of people: "And He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money in the offering box" (Mark 12:41). Here's Jesus people-watching. Imagine that. Imagine Jesus actually being able to sit down in a public place in Jerusalem during the Passover week, unaccosted by the crowds, only a few days before His crucifixion, just sitting and watching people for awhile. I find that a mesmerizing scene: Jesus just sitting there watching the people of the city milling about Him, all of them unaware that the Prince of Peace is sitting off to the side lovingly studying their movements.

I can imagine a gentle and thoughtful expression in his eyes as he watched the faces of one person after another visiting the treasury to place their offerings. What must he have been thinking as he watched them all? Matthew 9:4 and 12:25 tell us that Jesus could know people's thoughts. Perhaps He knew the thoughts and motives, the boasts and fears, of every person He watched at the treasury that day. He obviously knew enough to know that most "contributed out of their abundance," but that the poor widow He saw "put in everything she had, all she had to live on" (Mark 12:44). The fact that He knew all that meant that He seemed to know more than what you or I could've been sure of.

And He must have been sitting alone as He did this people-watching, because once He saw the poor widow put in her "two small copper coins" (v.42), He "called His disciples to Him" (v.43) to explain what He'd just seen. Can you imagine that? Something like, "Hey guys! Come here! I just saw something amazing!"

So what, you might say. What I've just described has nothing to do with the point of the story. Or maybe it does. For me, these thoughts highlight something that really encourages me. They tell me that our loving Saviour, Jesus, is a people-watcher. He's sitting in heaven and watching you and me right now, and He takes special notice when we take a step of faith. He gets excited, and perhaps He says, "Hey Father!" or "Hey angels! Come here! I just saw something amazing!" Jesus sees our fears and our faith as we take risks that reflect our trust in Him -- the kind of risks that widow took -- and he boasts about us to those around Him.

That's because He loves each of us as much as He loved that widow. No act is too small to go unnoticed, and no step of faith too trivial, or too fraught with fear, to go unaffirmed by the God who sees everything that's in our hearts. And that's encouraging for anyone who feels like they haven't got much more than two small copper coins to offer God.

© 2011 by Ken Peters

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