Let us turn our attention in this sermon to Luke 20:45-21:4 and learn about “The Graft and the Gift”. In 20:45-47, Jesus condemned the scribes (and other hypocritical Jewish religious leaders) for their dishonest gain through their abuse of power. In 21-1-4, Jesus commended a poor widow for her selfless gift to God of all she had. In our sermon today, we shall examine these two incidents to note both their similarities and their profound differences.
The Two are Similar
The scribe and the widow have a few similarities:
- Both are Poor. Both the scribe and the widow were poor in that they were both lacking something in their life.
- Both are Rich. Both the scribe and the widow were rich because they both had an abundance of something in their life.
- Both Love. Both the scribe and the widow had an object of great affection that was dear to them.
- Both Worship. Both the scribe and the widow worship. They were both active worshippers whose thoughts, words, and actions demonstrated worship and devotion.
The Two are Different
The Scribe and the Widow have important differences.
Different Poverty. While they are both poor, their poverty is profoundly different. The widow is materially poor. She gave “two small copper coins” (21:2) into the offering box. That is all she gave because that was “all she had to live on” (21:4). The scribe was not materially poor, but spiritually poor. Jesus said, “they will receive the greater condemnation” (20:47). These hypocritical leaders were so spiritually poor that they would not hesitate to “devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers” (20:47).
Different Riches. While they were both rich, their riches were different in many respects. The scribe was materially rich. Their commitment to graft enabled them to accumulate riches that provided comfortable living. The widow, on the other hand, was spiritually rich. We know this because she is blessed by none other than Jesus Himself. Jesus saw her sacrificial giving as a signal that her complete trust is found in God. In giving everything to God she became spiritually enriched in ways few people can ever imagine as she was filled with abundant love, joy, peace, etc.
Different Love. While they both had an object of great affection that was dear to them, the object of their affection was extraordinarily different. The widow demonstrated in her actions that her most treasured love was God. Her trust in God—demonstrated in giving all that she had—indicated that she loved God. She loved God so much that in giving Him all she had she gave Him all of herself. The scribe is different however. The scribe does not love God, he loved himself. The scribes “like to walk around in long robes” (20:46). There is nothing wrong with wearing long robes, but the scribes wore them so that people would notice them and praise them. In Matthew 23:5, Jesus said, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries [boxes on their heads to remind them to pray] broad and their fringes long.” Jesus continues His condemnation of their hypocrisy when He said that they “love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts” (20:46). The reason they do all of this is because they love themselves more than anyone or anything else.
Different God. While they both worshiped, their worship was completely different. The scribes’ actions indicated that they loved themselves more than anyone or anything else and that they worshiped themselves. They definitely did not verbalize this idolatry, but their actions indicated their complete service and worship of themselves. The widow, however, demonstrated that her worship was for God alone. God is her greatest love and He is worthy of all devotion and completely trustworthy.
We have been discussing a hypocritical scribe and a poor widow and now it is time to turn our attention to ourselves. Consider the following:
- Are you spiritually rich or poor? Do you fail to give a portion of your income back to God because you are afraid you will not have enough to live on? Remember, giving is an act of faith that you trust God to take care of you.
- Who do you love and worship? Do you act as if you are a god or do you act as one who serves the true God? Are your actions based primarily on how it will affect you or whether or not it is in obedience to God’s commands?
Take time this week to pray over these matters, asking God to reveal anything in your life that needs changing.