Luke 21:1-19                “Put in All”


            Warning: what we read this morning in the Gospel of Luke is not a parable. This is not a supposed make-believe story that Jesus is using to share a moral point. This actually happened in Jesus’ day that a widow came forward to make an offering at the temple and put in her last two coins. We then hear that this was the last of her existence on earth. She has no more.

            So, I asked in the bible studies who would do that. Nobody! If you had only two dollars left to your name, you would hold onto that and maybe buy a hotdog and drink at the local big-box store. You might live another couple of days that way. Maybe in that time you might come by some more money, find work, or sneak into a buffet at one of the hotels–not that I would ever do that! By the way, funeral food is always the best anyway.

            What is on the mind of this widow? The report we have from Luke really does not tell us. Maybe it is in her heart to seek assistance from the priests of the temple? After all, that is part of their calling. Priests are supposed to help widows who have no male relative to care for them.

            James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction. …” The bible mentions this call to help orphans and widows over 70 times. In the Book of Acts when the apostles are receiving donations from people while in the Temple in Jerusalem, they appoint “deacons” to redistribute that back to the widows and orphans. In 1 Timothy 5, we see the admonition that widows should come together to help one another; many feel that this is the start of the Christian tradition of having nuns—religious groups of women who care for one another.

            So what is wrong with this picture that Jesus sees of the lone widow putting the last of her wealth into the treasury? What will happen to that widow afterwards? Will she have any means of support? Will she be able to live anymore? Will she just go off and “stop being a burden” to others?


            To emphasize that even more how wrong this image is of the woman giving her last to the temple, Jesus points out that others were at that same time marveling at the splendor and opulence of the Temple itself. The temple was adorned with gold and precious stones. So, everyone is watching all the wealth being accumulated while the poor widow is disregarded while she gives up her last two coins. Nobody sees the widow; they only see the gold! Well, Jesus sees the widow!

            I knew a family in Southern California in which the father was a drunk and very abusive. He more or less abandoned his wife and three kids. The mother then found great solace in attending a large, very popular, ministry in that town. The mother was in fact on welfare. She and the children lived in the garage of her parents’ home. She, however, took her entire welfare check and month-by-month signed it over to that church.

            At one point, feeling sorry for the kids, I decided to just take them out to McDonald’s for a lunch. They rarely got to eat out anywhere. As we drove to the fast food place, the kids urged me to drive through an ally on the way, where they told me the dumpsters had the best food around. We did not do that. But, they knew how to dumpster dive for their meals.

            I later learned that their church, to which the monthly welfare check went, has a food court. The kids could never eat there because it was too expensive. That church’s fellowship time was actually part of the fundraising scheme! 

            So, you all want to know the sign of the times when God is going to get so fed up with us that He is just going to say “Game over”?  It is when the widow puts in her last two coins and is taken up to be with God as the opulent temple is brought down stone to stone again. The word of God tells us over 70 times to care for those in need such as widows and orphans.


            Okay, we get distracted easily. Jesus knows this. Jesus tells us that we might think that the world is coming to an end because we will see wars, and tumults, and heavenly signs in the sky. Guess what, we have been through a couple of world wars, not to mention major political upheavals, and even have renewed reports of Unidentified flying objects somewhere over Las Vegas–or so the news reports.

            In verse nine of today’s scripture Jesus states clearly that all these things will happen, but the end will not come immediately. Jump to verse twelve: Before all this, they will arrest you and persecute you. . . .

            Recently EWTN, which is the Catholic Church’s worldwide television network reported that in the last two years persecutions against Christians in such countries as China, North Korea, Nigeria, and even Columbia, are up by 75%. Maybe you have even felt in your own life that your faith in Christ has been attacked more than before. Well, according to this we can take that as a positive sign. Of course in the time when Luke was writing this Gospel, Christians were worshipping underground in catacombs to avoid being arrested and thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. At least I am not a lion’s supper tonight!


            In the next verses Jesus says that our persecutions will lead us to a time of testimony in favor of God Almighty. I love this—especially when Jesus says that I do not have to prepare my testimony, for the Spirit will give me utterance. This is like to Saint Peter in Acts 2 at the time of the Pentecost. If you will recall, Peter just opened his mouth and all this prophetic stuff came out when you know he was just a fisherman. He even quoted the prophet Joel word for word.

            So, there was a time in my visit to Russia some years ago when I had just arrived. I was very tired after my flight. Nelli’s family had prepared a feast. With all the eating, wine was served and then of course the “digestive” vodka. Really, I just could not take anymore. I just stood up from the table and told the family that it was late, I was tired, and I was going to bed. The whole room fell quiet. They looked at me with wide eyes. I asked what was wrong, was I being rude? Nelli reported back to me that I had just spoken “perfect” Russian even without an accent, and so everyone was wondering about me!  That must have been the Holy Spirit interceding through my mouth! (Or, if you want to conclude that the best way to speak Russian is without sleep and inebriated, go ahead.)


            The final section of our scripture tells the last full prophetic sign that the end is near. Again, it has nothing to do with earthquakes and the like. Jesus says that we will be hated by all because of our testimony. That is not the sign that most folks want to hear about. Yet, to Luke’s audience in his time of writing this, when Christians were being thrown to the lions in the coliseums, this must have really resonated.

            Then, we have the last line. In spite of all the tribulation, not a hair on your head will be lost. That is super because I am losing hair all the time. I have become super careful when I am cooking to make sure that the hair is not landing in the salad.

            This is in fact the final sign before us. We will be saved. Death will not be victorious over us. We will all know for sure that time is ending because everything around us will be going, going, gone, but we will be saved to the Lord. We will just give our lives back over to the Lord.

            The widow in the Temple is doing just that when she puts the last of her money into the treasury. She is giving it all over to the Lord again. She is ready to meet her maker, be with God, and fully know Jesus. Yes, this is the final sign that the world will know.