Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hated (part 1)

You will be hated by everyone because of My name.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved. – Mark 13:13  (NET)

Jesus---the healer, the wondrous miracle worker, the good and wise man, the social revolutionary---tells His disciples that they will be hated by everyone because of His name.  He says this while in the process of answering a question posed by Peter, James, John, and Andrew (13:3).  Prior to the question and the answer, one of His disciples had spoken of the Temple, making reference to its size and grandeur.  This occurs after Jesus has observed the significant offerings that were being made for the Temple, which would be used for its ongoing upkeep, adornment, and expansion. 

The amount of money that filtered through the Temple was substantial, with large offerings able to do wonderful things for the Temple that visibly represented Israel’s hopes, its dreams, and its God.  Nevertheless, Jesus focuses in on one particular woman---a poor widow, who “came and put in two small copper coins” (12:42b).  He said to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others.  For they all gave out of their wealth.  But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had” (12:43b-44). 

It is tempting to view the recognition of such obviously sacrificial giving as a badge of honor and praise from Jesus.  At first glance, it would appear that Jesus is singling this woman out (the imagery, of course, is always that of an older woman, but that is not necessarily the case, as it would have been common for her to have been quite young) and holding her up for praise due to her gift.  It would seem to be the case that at least one of the disciples hears these words from Jesus as praise for the woman, as He seemingly honors her very small gift above the others. 

Thus this disciple takes it upon himself to say “Look at these tremendous stones and buildings” (13:1b), as if to say “So much money has been given to erect and to maintain this Temple.  Some of those gifts have been quite large, and many were no doubt sacrificial in nature.  In addition, all of the people participate in this construction and maintenance program by their gifts.  This Temple would not be what it is today if all gave only what this widow gave, and yet you, Jesus, say that she gave more.”   

Jesus’ response to His disciple allows for consideration of the very strong possibility (probability) that His recognition of the widow’s gift was actually something of a lament.  What has actually taken place is that this woman has given all that she has to live on, when in reality, it is the Temple authorities, as they represent the covenant God of Israel that provides for His people, that should be supporting her and not allowing her to do this very thing.  Instead, the implication is that this widow is now going to suffer hunger and thirst and privation as a result of her support of a Temple (and a Temple regime) that is shortly going to come to an end. 

Emphasizing that this is the point at which He is driving, Jesus says “Do you see these great buildings?  Not one stone will be left on another.  All will be torn down!” (13:2)  These are cataclysmic words.  These are weighty words.  The Temple will be torn down?  What do you mean the Temple will be torn down?  This is big news---the biggest!  Moreover, such words are not being spoken by some raving lunatic.  This is being said by the man recently hailed with “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!  Hosanna in the highest!” (11:9b-10) 

This is being said by the same man who had entered the Temple, and with a demonstration of a deep and abiding respect for the Temple and its purposes, along with a respect for Who and what it symbolized, drove out those who were selling and buying in the Temple courts and overturned the tables of the money changers and prevented merchandise from being carried through the Temple courts (11:15-16), saying “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?  But you have turned it into a den of robbers!” (11:17)  First He defends its honor, and now He speaks of its destruction.

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