No, the man certainly did not come to make anyone at ease. Even those who followed him must have wondered what it would be like for Jesus to turn on them. I can see why so many were angry at Jesus—if I threw words around like he did, even if they were true I would be turned out on my ear. It makes me appreciate the man for his passion and dedication, but I do wonder if a bit more tact might have served him well. I can only imagine the steam rising out of the ears of the Pharisees as they listened to Jesus’ harangues, and their free time must have been spent plotting against Jesus.
I do appreciate this rebuke, though. Well, I should probably say that I at least understand it. It’s easy to get carried away with the trimmings of power. I’ve seen it happen to a number of people—they promise not to get caught up in the prestige and honor, but soon it goes to their heads, and the next thing you know, they’re more interested in retaining power for the perks than the reason they sought the position in the first place. I can see how much damage people like this would do to the reputation of a religion—there would be little respect paid to the leaders, and if the leaders are not respected, who would choose to follow? Not that Jesus is necessarily easy to follow, but he seems to have integrity between what he says and what he does.
I have found an account that I seems quite interesting to me, partly because of the circumstances in which it occurs. Jesus and the disciples are watching people put their offerings into the treasury. He must have been hoping for a teachable moment, but the fact that he was there at all is a statement on how important he believes our offerings are. Many rich people were there offering grand and extravagant gifts, but Jesus chooses to highlight a widow, obviously poor, who places two meager copper coins in the treasury.
It’s a gift that most of us would not notice—we’d be too focused on the wealth that was being put in by the rich. Jesus, though, tells the disciples that the widow has put in more than the rest, because the gift she made was a sacrifice from her poverty that she needed to live on, while the rich only gave from the storehouses of their abundance and will scarcely notice that it is gone.
The disciples must have looked at Jesus and wondered what he meant when he said this poor woman gave more. Her gift was rather sad in comparison with the others, but the lesson here is that painful giving is treasured. He doesn’t downplay the giving of the rich, for surely it is important that they give, although I would have liked to hear Jesus’ reaction to those gifts. He elevates giving that is often overlooked, giving that is sacrificial, that hurts. I believe that Jesus is trying to help the disciples see that choosing to follow him means that there are sacrifices a disciple will have to make that aren’t always easy, but bring glory to God.
This is such a gem, Theophilus! I doubt that the widow heard Jesus, but I bet that the disciples never looked at a poor widow in the same light again.