And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.…
The treasury, "in front of the sanctuary," consisted of thirteen brazen chests, called "trumpets" from their peculiar, shape, "swelling out beneath, and tapering upward into a narrow mouth or opening, into which the contributions were put." The contributions given were towards the sacrifice fund, and they were voluntary. This incident has a deep, permanent interest for all Christians.
I. CHRIST'S OBSERVATION OF RELIGIOUS GIVING. He "sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury." This has been felt to be typical of his eternal attitude: he still sits "over against the treasury" of his Church.
1. It was deliberate. He did it as one who had purposed to do it; and he was not in any hurry. The position was chosen, and was well suited to carry out his intention.
2. It was careful and discriminating. The different classes of people were noted - rich and poor, ostentatious and retiring, mean and generous. He beheld how the people cast in.
3. It was comprehensive. No individual seems to have escaped his attention. Even the poor widow is observed.
4. It was his last act ere quitting the temple for ever.
II. HIS KNOWLEDGE OF ITS MOTIVES AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
1. How penetrating! The outward actions and bearing of the donors would doubtless reveal to his eye, who "knew what was in man," their real characters. Now he looks directly upon our secret thoughts and feelings, and is acquainted with all the conditions of mind and heart through which we pass. Be knows the history of the gift, as well as its actual bestowal.
2. How complete! The domestic circumstances of the widow were well known to him. No tax-surveyor could have reckoned the income of the people more accurately.
3. How minute! The exact nature and number of the widow's coins are noted.
III. His judgment AS TO ITS WORTH. His attitude now, as on the day when "he looked round about upon all things," was authoritative and judicial He sat as one who had a right to be there. It is from a supreme elevation of moral sentiment that he looks, for already clearly visible to his spirit is his own great gift - of himself.
1. Given from a spiritual point of view. Not the objective amount, but the motives and feelings of the givers. The spirit of sacrifice, the religious enthusiasm of each, is measured and declared.
2. The standard indicated is not how much is given, but from how much it is given. They all cast in "of their abundance." What they gave was, therefore, a mere superfluity. Their comforts were not decreased, their luxuries still abounded. The need - the absolute poverty - of the widow rendered her gift a sacrifice, and a heroic act of faith. It was prophetic of the Divine charities that were to be awakened in the breasts of regenerate men, when his own great sacrifice should have borne its fruit. The Macedonian Churches (and many a one since) gave not only to their power, but beyond it, their deep poverty abounding to the fiches of their liberality (2 Corinthians 8:1, 2). "Now, many would have been ready to censure this poor widow, and to think she did ill. Why should she give to others when she had little enough for herself?... It is so rare a thing to find any that would not blame this widow, that we cannot expect to find any that will imitate her! And yet our Savior commends her, and therefore we are sure that she did very well and wisely" (Matthew Henry). - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.