When A Mite Became Mighty

Trying hard to be inconspicuous, she slipped into the back of the synagogue, it being the Sabbath, the building was crowded. She came every week and this was no exception. She was excited. Word had gotten out that Jesus was here and she wanted to see Him. Finding an unoccupied space against the rear synagogue wall, she settled in.

Being a widow, she was going through a hard time. Her husband had died unexpectedly and had left her in dire straights. She survived, but just barely. They hadn’t been blessed with children, so she was on her own. Finding any work to support herself was impossible because most Hebrew families were large, any work to be done was taken care of by the family members. Her only recourse was to beg. This had been a particularly bad week financially, and her offering was very small. All she had was a mite, which was one sixty-fourth of a denarius and a denarius was normally accepted as a days wage. It wasn’t much and she was almost ashamed to give it.

Off to the side, she could see who she thought was Jesus. He was completely surrounded by a large crowd that was pressing in on Him. She saw people holding out their hands, pleading for Him to help them. His disciples were doing their best to keep some kind of order but it was almost impossible.

Hearing a commotion at the door, she turned and watched as the procession came into the synagogue. It was the Sadducees and Pharisees. As usual, they were wearing their finest linen robes, trimmed in gold and royal purple. Their phylacteries were strategically placed for all to see. It was obvious their only reason for being here was to be seen.

Each man approached the altar with his offering, making sure that he was seen by everyone. Holding it high, he placed it on the altar. As each did so he would glance Jesus’s way as if to seek approval.

She watched, with amusement, as the Master ignored them. Their countenance dropped and their joy turned into anger. As a group they left the synagogue, whispering to themselves, and casting angry glances at Him.

Now the rest of the people made their way forward, each with their offering in their hand.

“Do I go?” she asked herself, “It is so little. But it is all that I have.”

As she began making her way forward she could hear the whispers.  She tried hard not to notice it but it was hard. Everyone had seen her at the city gate begging. Most of them ignored her, even to the point that they shunned her. All of this hurt her deeply. When her husband was alive she had been a respected member of the community. Now she was considered the lowest of the low, an outcast, someone to be avoided at all costs. Only a leper was below her.

As she approached the altar the crowd parted, letting her through. They didn’t do it out of kindness. They didn’t want to have any contact with her. To them she was socially below them, someone they despised and loathed.

She straightened her shoulders, put a smile on her face, and dropped her mite into the offering. It was a monumental sacrifice giving that mite. It was everything she had. There was nothing to buy food with or obtain shelter for the night. She should have been terrified, but instead, she was happy knowing she had given her best.

The people around her saw what she gave. Some snickered behind her back, and others quickly spread the news throughout the crowd. She turned to leave and happened to glance at Jesus. She saw that He was watching her closely. He nodded His head slightly and smiled at her. Then He turned to the men that were with Him.

Taken back by what she saw, she left the synagogue in a hurry. She didn’t know why, she just knew that she had to leave.

“Did you see her?” asked Jesus, “did you see what she did?”

“No, Master, what did she do?”

“She gave everything that she had. Not like the pompous Sadducees and Pharisees who gave from their abundance. Their offering is a vile stench to me. They gave in order to be seen. She gave because she loves the Father, which means she also loves me. Never have I seen such faith. He who has little will gain much, they will receive me and all of my blessings. She is dear to my heart. Find out where she lives. Go! Follow her! I must know!”

Little did she know she was being followed. She had other things on her mind. She was hungry and hadn’t eaten since yesterday. She was also concerned about having a place to stay that night. All of these things were on her mind.

“I did the right thing,” she thought while weaving her way through the crowd. Everybody was going home after Sabbath ceremonies and she blended in.

“The mite would have purchased a fig cake. Not much but it would have eased my hunger,” she sighed, “maybe I can find a fig or date at the market. I hope Sarah will let me stay again tonight. I can sleep under her overhang outside. It will be cold but at least it will be dry. I hope she can spare a robe again for tonight.

Then she stopped and realized what she was doing.

“Forgive me, Father, for thinking only about myself. I ask that you use my offering to further your kingdom,” she prayed, “I love you and I ask that you please take care of me.”

From the shadows the disciples watched her. Knowing not to reveal themselves, they followed her to the market. There they watched as she found a handful of figs scattered here and there. She brushed the dirt from them and devoured them immediately. After getting a drink from the market well, she left the market heading for one of the poor sections of the city. She approached a run-down home and knocked on the door. A woman answered, they talked, and the woman went back into the house. She returned carrying a threadbare robe. The widow took it, nodded her thanks, and found a place to lie down under the overhang.

The disciples waited until they could hear her rhythmic snoring before they left. Reporting back to the Master, they told Him what she had done. He found a place to pray and secluded Himself. After a short time, He rejoined the disciples.

“I have spoken to the Father. This is what we will do,” He said.

The next morning she was at the gate. Having found a good place, she began to beg. As usual, the people ignored her. She had been there all morning and her begging was to no avail. And then it happened. A man approached her and spoke.

“Are you the widow who gave a mite on the Sabbath?”

She was instantly wary. How did he know this and why was he here? She got to her feet to flee when he spoke again.

“Are you the widow?” he again asked.

Timidly she answered yes.

“The Lord has spoken to my heart. He has sent me to help you. I have a need for a housekeeper. My wife recently passed away and I need help. Would you be interested? You will have a place to sleep and I will feed you. You will no longer have to live on the streets and beg.”

She began to cry. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she accepted the offer.

Turning her face toward Heaven she prayed, “Thank you, Father, thank you for loving me.

In the background, Jesus watched and smiled. Bowing His head, he began to pray.

“Father, thank you for your guidance. Thank you for showing me how to help both of them. They will never forget it. It is good.”

Scripture tells us little about the widow other than her giving the mite. I like to think that it may have ended like this. I hope you do too.

June 11, 2021