Jesus cares about women. This is evident from His dialogues with Martha, the woman at the well, His mother, Mary Magdalene, and the woman who touched His robe. But with the widow at the temple treasury He does not converse. Though He does not speak to her, He speaks to His disciples about her. There is a direct connection between this incident and Jesus’ warning regarding religious rulers. “Beware of the scribes who rob widows of their homes” (Mk. 12:40). Their pride is displayed by how they dress, how they give alms, and how they crave recognition (12:38-39).
The treasury in the Temple is located in the Court of the Women. In that area are numerous funnel-shaped receptacles into which coins are deposited. According to traditional Jewish laws, individuals can give no less than two mites. A mite is a fraction of a U.S. penny. It is the smallest copper coin in that day used by both Romans and Jews.
Jesus is sitting near the treasury closely observing those who cast in coins (Lk. 21:1). He sees both the rich and poor as they bring their offerings. Note that Jesus beholds how each person gives (Mk.12:41). God is more concerned with our motive than our money. As He watches the people, an elderly widow catches His attention. The fact she is destitute is shown by her dress and demeanor. She probably does not notice Him, but He certainly notices her. Two mites are all she has but she gives them both. This widow makes no provision for tomorrow, but chooses to obey God today. Prudence demands she keep her coins, but her love for God prompts her to give them. His approval is all that matters. God’s math is different than ours. The rich can give a lot, but it is no sacrifice to give what you can spare. According to the scales of heaven, Jesus declares this woman’s gift outweighs the gifts of all the others combined (v. 43).
The corruption within the hierarchy of the Jewish nation is epitomized by the activities in the Temple. Jesus clears the Temple of its corrupt money changers as His ministry commences (Jn. 2:14). He does this a second time as He concludes His ministry three years later (Mt. 21:12). The story of the widow and her mites proves nothing has changed. Jesus’ observation of this woman is the final incident in His life connected with the Temple. He never visits there again. When the city is sacked by the Roman legions four decades later, millions of gold and silver coins are discovered hidden beneath the Temple treasury.
Jesus observes who gives, what they give, when they give, and why. One can receive greater blessings for offering God two mites than two million. Your attitude makes all the difference. The widow knew worshipping in God’s house includes sacrifice. She gave coins made of copper. Today she walks streets made of gold.