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1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. [*] 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
[*] 21:2 Greek two lepta; a lepton was a Jewish bronze or copper coin worth about 1/128 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer).
After searching for Lepton pictures, none of them fit the parable descriptions of Greek and copper. Herod in 36 BC, didn't even produce a Lepton, considering it to be too poor. So the coin in the parable, was actually old, about 40 years old, when the widow added it to the offering box.
Six years of civil war (93–87 BC) between Alexander Jannaeus (grandson of Simon Maccabaeus and the great, great nephew of Judas Maccabaeus (Maccabees Apocrypha & Hanukkah) between Sadducees against the Pharisees; Alexander asserted his position as King by crucifying 800 Pharisees, who invited the Greeks to come to take Jerusalem. The coin proclaimed him King, when people - not of the Davidic line - were not allowed to call themselves king. Kingship was again signified by minting coins “King Alexander” in Greek and “Yehonatan, the king” in Hebrew.
Trouble everywhere - We think of the Middle East as being complicated now - her coin is in Greek, and it was Greeks who fueled a civil war, as needed, between priests in the Temple of the Living God. A Greek coin used by a Judean, in a Roman puppet state. The trouble is human beings using their need for meaning to propel themselves forward in self-centered and destructive ways.
The King who cannot be a King because he is not of the Davidic line; the Herods look like they are here to stay, the coin suggests change and power shifting as a sign from God.
Notice the symbol of the star encircled by a royal diadem provides two emblems of the priestly and royal Messiahs (Balaam’s prophecy of the Scepter and the Star).
The coin predicts the Messiah:
15 And he took up his discourse and said,“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel
We all wonder if we're doing life the way God wants us, after all, we are dust in the wind. Does God really mean it when He says we are important to Him. More important than a sparrow, does He .... really .... know about a sparrow? .... Or me?
Look at the widow in 1st century A.D. - she is a woman. Strike one. She is a widow - without a husband to speak for her or care for her. Strike two. In the middle of the most fortunes to be made in ancient history, Roman conquest, her contribution is small. It is all a strike out.
So... Jesus sees her as worthy - her action - she is generous to God. This video emphasizes good works, even all we have to offer will not be our salvation.
What does Jesus see?
Jesus sees - not the vast Temple, not the many priests, but sweeps away the vast & the temporal - sees this woman. The woman living a life pleasing to God. Much more important to Jesus than the wealth of the Empire. More important than the interesting coin. More important than the title of King to Jesus. Her generosity lived on far longer than the Temple. She matters to the LORD and she will come into His promises.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.