And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.…
Our Lord wished to see "how the multitude cast money into the collection-chest" — not only how much — anybody could have discovered that — but in what manner and spirit it was being done: reverently or irreverently — as unto God or as unto man — so as to display or so as to conceal the offering — with a conscientious aim to give all that was due, or a self-convicted sense that a part thereof was being withheld. The searching eye of the Master struck through the outward demeanour of each passing worshipper, right down to the motive that swayed the hand. He was reading the heart of each giver. He was marking whether the gift was the mere fruit of a devotionless habit — a sheer affectation of religious liberality — or, as it ought to be, a humble and sincere token of gratitude and consecration to God. These were the inquiries that were engaging the mind of our Lord on this memorable occasion. We are not informed how long He had sat or what discoveries He had made before the arrival of the "poor widow," but He noticed that she gave but two "mites"; and knowing that this was all she had, He discerned the unselfishness and love that prompted an offering which would perhaps be her last oblation on the altar of the Lord. This act of unfeigned devotion touched Him at once, insomuch that He immediately called His disciples, and drew their attention to so striking and instructive a case. It was her gift, rather than any other, that attracted the greatest interest in the courts of heaven. It was her offering, rather than any other, that was alone worthy of a permanent record in the Gospel History and the "books of eternal remembrance." And why? Not only because she gave "all her living," but because she gave it unto the Lord "with all her heart." Not at all in a spirit of petulance or desperation, as might have been the case; not at all because she saw want staring her in the face, and thought it no longer worth her while to retain the paltry coins she possessed. On the contrary, it was the fineness of the woman's spirit, the richness of her gratitude and love, the wealth of her self-forgetfulness and trust under the severity of her trials, that gave her little gift the exceeding rareness of its value. She was neither despairing nor repining, but "walking by faith" and in contentment, reflecting that, not. withstanding her indigence, there was none to whom she was so great a debtor as unto the Lord her God, who in His providence had given her all she had, or ever had had, or ever would have, temporal and spiritual. And out of the depths of her adoration and thankfulness she says unto herself, "I will go," in my poverty and sincerity, "and pay my vows unto the Lord in the presence of all His people," cast my slender and only offering into the sacred treasury, and await the goodness of His hand in "the land of the living." The other worshippers were giving variously, but all "of their abundance"; or, as the Revised Version has it, "of their superfluity." They never missed what they gave. They were sacrificing nothing to enable them to give. They could have given more, some of them far more, and never have felt the slightest pressure in consequence. But the "poor widow" had not an iota more to offer. She gave her "uttermost farthing," and she gave it gladly.
(J. W. Pringle, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.