READ Luke 21:1-4
We are stepping into the Passion narrative at somewhat of a peculiar point. Picking up Luke’s narrative near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we find him – as we often do – on the temple steps. Other Gospel accounts tell us that His disciples are with him. What makes this quite ordinary scene peculiar is what – or whom – Jesus notices: a poor widow who has come to the temple to give her offering.
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. (Luke 21:1-2 ESV, used throughout)
The author doesn’t tell us much about the person on whom Jesus focuses His divine attention. What do we know about her?
The word that Luke uses for “poor” is πενιχρὰν. It is emphatic; the woman in this narrative is very poor, or overtly poor. I imagine that she bears the marks of her poverty in her body and presence: worn clothes that are needed to last another few years, poor health from food lacking nutrition, a back bent from the hard labor avoided by the rich. What is more, she is a widow, the wife of a deceased husband. According to the Jewish law, widows were to be cared for by family members, and if no family members were alive or able to do so, she was to be cared for by the religious leaders of the day. In God’s kindness and mercy He established a system in which “the least of these” would be cared for. The widow’s overt poverty emphasizes the fact that this system – and likely this temple – has failed her.
And we cannot miss that Jesus noticed her. Among the rich who entered the temple with their lavish gifts and the wealthy who brought sizable contributions to the temple ministry, Jesus’ eyes fall to her. The woman who likely felt invisible is seen by the Son of God.
Lent is a season in which we, the Church, corporately turn our attention to God. We allow our stomachs to grumble and our cravings to be provoked so that throughout our day and in every corner of our lives we will remember the Lord. But the honest truth of this Lenten season is that even while we work to turn our attention to the Lord, we desperately need His attention to fall on us. Even when we work to remember Him, we know deep in our guts that we are desperate for Him to remember us.
In what ways do you need God to remember you this Lenten season? What areas of your life do you need Jesus to notice you?
Here is the confidence we can have: Jesus sees us. Just like the widow in the temple, Jesus sees us. When our offerings are meager and our bellies are empty, He sees us.
Spend some time thanking God that He sees you. Thank Him that even when you feel invisible, you can rest assured that you are never out of His sight.