Prayer 556 - Tuesday of Holy Week
Holy Week - Tuesday
Even in the midst of this big week, Jesus stops to notice someone that others probably ignored. No matter how busy, how heavy, or how full His schedule, Jesus never stopped noticing the forgotten.
Today, remember that Jesus has not stopped seeing you. Even when you feel overlooked or forgotten.
Let's read these two accounts this morning.
Luke records this exchange:
He looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins. "I tell you the truth," He said. "This poor widow has put in more than all of them. For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on." (Luke 21:1-4)
Matthew tells us that Jesus is walking with his disciples and teaches them this lesson:
"Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
(Matthew 21: 19-20)
Yesterday, Jesus flipped over the tables of the money changers in the temple. Today, He is praising the woman who gives two small coins. It's hard not to see the connection here. Jesus drives out those who were taking advantage of others, almost selling an entrance fee to the temple.
Today, Jesus notices and praises this woman's small gift in that same space. He is sending a clear message.
God is more concerned with the heart of the giver than the size of the gift.
What are you giving in this season?
The fig tree lesson always brings about a lot of conversation. But I think what Jesus is getting at is a way to keep driving home the point he's been making to the religious elite -
That a fruitless branch must be cut off.
We are called to produce fruit, but the nation of Israel at that time was barren.
What fruitless branches exist in your life today?
Ask God to show you the things in your life that are not helping you produce the fruit of the kingdom, then ask for the courage to cut them off.
Oh God who is beyond my imagination, thank you for seeing me, for caring about me. Help me to see others who are so often forgotten. Develop in me a heart that wants to give - not for others to see. Instead, give me a heart so overflowing with gratitude that I cannot help but give back to you. God, today I ask that you would prune away the fruitless branches in my life. Help me to dig in deeper to the spiritual disciplines that cause me to produce good fruit. Help me to grow closer to you as I walk with you to the cross this week. Amen.
I have always been confused about the fig tree. I could not understand why Jesus would condemn this poor tree. But in the reflection, it talks about needing to prune a tree which is not producing fruit. Now that makes more sense to me because my husband was in the tree business for 37 years, and that I understand. Jesus also used this example to me when I was contemplating and praying about leaving the Alight care center. At that time I felt that he was speaking to me that this branch was being cut off for me and that it would no longer bear any fruit at Alight. When this example was felt in my spirit, I felt sad that nighttime middle light would have to end. However, I believe that Jesus saw it as necessary to once again grow fruit in my life. I cannot say that I have seen where and when he wants me to bear the fruit, but I am willing to see this as a positive time in my life. I do not yet see how retirement fits into God‘s plan for bearing fruit, but I am willing to wait and see what the Lord has in store for me. Thank you Lord for showing me the pruning that you wanted me to make in my life. I will wait upon you, Lord, to see the fruit that you wish to grow in my life. Give me the strength Lord to just stand and wait upon You in this critical time. Help me to know that you are working in me, that it is not a time to “rest“, but a time To develop and watch the new fruit grow.
The weight of what is about to happen is crushing, yet Jesus notices this woman! He is so selfless. And so is she! As she gives all she has, her focus is not on herself. Rather, she is focused on glorifying God. She trusts that God will meet all her needs if she puts Him first. This is what Kaitlyn pointed to with the children this week. God will meet all of our needs in the Kingdom. The Savior calls for daily dying to self. He calls us to take up our cross daily. If our lives are not bearing fruit for the Kingdom, we are like the fig tree. In the Upper Room, in just 2 days, Jesus will speak, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Cut off from me you can do nothing.” But together with Him, greater things than we could ever imagine will be happening. The widow’s mite produced great fruit for the Kingdom. I myself have told her story many times. I don’t want to be like the Pharisees. They are like the fig tree. Outwardly, they were known as “religious”, but many of them bore no fruit. Thank God for Nicodemus who became a follower of Jesus and for the Sadducee, Joseph of Arimathea. There is hope for all of us as we follow Jesus in this Holy Week.
I am always so humbled when I think about Jesus going to the cross for me. To think about all he did and went through on his way brings me awe and so many emotions!! I love the line - God is more concerned with the heart of the giver than the size of the gift. I’ve always loved the story of the widow and Jesus, I haven’t always had a lot to give and knowing that it’s ok as long as I’m giving from my heart and in more ways than money has made me feel seen. I will be praying extra hard today to see the things in my life that are not helping me produce the fruit of the kingdom, and asking for the courage to cut them off. 🙏🏻♥️
I had never considered the Monday/ moneychangers and Tuesday/ widow's mite stories back to back like this, but it's absolutely impossible not to see the connection. This is really exciting for me--Jesus doesn't just throw around tables to get rid of the scourge in the temple. The very next day he gives an example of someone doing it right.
I pray for a generous and humble heart, like this woman had when she quietly gave all she had.
I've always known the parable of the money changers in relation to the widow and her two coins. In our Catholic church in Texas, for 15 years this dichotomy was always presented to encourage us to be "givers from the heart." I love it and I tried to model it with my children. When I took the job at Jewish Family Service as the Community Organizer for the Special Needs Partnership, part of my job was to help all our clients to have access to services in the community to support their social and behavioral health, including their faith. Everyone. Every year, nearing the High Holidays, many of my families would need to find a way to attend services in the synagogue (we were encouraged to NOT call them temples around this time of year). In the Jewish tradition, so I've been told, their tithing was only collected once a year, as an offering, as we've been reading. And, in the synagogues I worked with, one must have paid their tithe in order to have a seat in the worship service, and there was a minimum required; per family. The bigger the family, the bigger the offering required. We're talking $10k-$20k each year. Many of my families would struggle to meet the minimum, citing extra costs of care for their family. So, there were families in the community who would "lend" the money, in advance, but you had to make arrangements to pay them back, with no interest. And, you can not go directly to the family lending the money, you needed an intercessor. Yup, part of my job was to help my families find money to attend services - a "money changer" in a sense. Also, each synagogue had a Brotherhood and Sisterhood committee; each would raise money throughout the year holding events as fundraisers. And, again, to be a member of a synagogue, married men had to join the Brotherhood and wives had to join the Sisterhood. As a member of the "hood" you had to help raise or give a minimum each year. Dues. Then, around the time of the High Holidays, the "hoods" would help pay for the families that needed money to tithe. You see the cycle. To me, it was an obvious way to keep track of how much money each family made. And to be honest, they would talk about it behind each other's back, and everyone knew it. I hated this part of my job. As a Christian, I also sat on my Parish Pastoral Council for our Catholic Church and weekly offerings were a big part of our operating budgets. But, I knew that the tithe was not mandated. We were always guessing and always fundraising. This story will always speak to my heart. With my non-Jewish colleagues, we would often whisper that it's better to be the widow in the church than in the temple because in the bible Jesus points out how much she gave in the temple and praised her for it but in the temple today, she'd have to find someone to give her the other two coins. Lord, have mercy on me. Blessings to all who give from the heart.