Today Jesus says, “Beware.” Jesus speaks against religion that cares for the wealthy at the expense of the most vulnerable. Jesus condemns any system that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. Jesus issues this warning by affirming an unlikely person, a poor widow. And Jesus shows us what we already know: the coins in this story represent more than money. Things are not always as they seem.
Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.”
Jesus sat down near the collection box by the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small bronze coins, [worth a penny]. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” – Mark 12:38-44 (NLT)