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Jesus the Lord of the Poor

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Jesus the Lord of the Poor

Sermon Discussion
Luke 20:45-21:4

Luke 45-21:4

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

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. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

What do you notice about this passage?

What does Jesus say about the people that are described or observed in this passage? About the scribes? About the widow?

What does he say about their giving? Does he praise them? Does he condemn them?

Why does the widow give so much? (Perhaps the widow is giving sacrificially. She is need of charity, in need of mercy, yet she gives. Here is a woman who is in desperate need, giving what she needs. Her faith has to be in the Lord, that He will keep His promises.)

Re-read verses 1-4, but this time, keep in mind that widows were suffering abuse and oppression at the hands of the very people they was called to trust for their spiritual and physical well being. (20:47)

What if this passage is less about generous giving, and more about injustice and the abuse that the widow suffers at the hands of those that are commanded to care for her and take care of her needs? This is a warning against the abuse of power to oppress others and pursue their own glory and even greater power and to be an idle observer.

Luke 21:1-4

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. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Why does the widow give so much? (Perhaps she gives out of obligation and because of cultural expectations of the time and the demands of abusive scribes, leading her and benefitting from her greater impoverishment).

What does the widow need? (justice, mercy, a new way of thinking)

What do the scribes need? (justice, new hearts)

Jesus says that we will always have the poor among us, so what ultimately fixes the problem of poverty or abuse of power?

What do you think about what St. John Chrysostum said about caring for the poor? Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person’s gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm.

Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold form the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people’s hearts first — and then they will joyfully share their wealth.

It’s easy to see people who are poor in the physical sense, but much more difficult to to see the poverty of people who are poor in the spiritual sense. What are some ways that the Lord may be showing you your own poverty and your greater need for Christ and the mercy and riches only He can offer?

How did Jesus become poor and suffer abuse on our behalf and what did He accomplish?

Please pray for each other. Pray for courage to stand up against abuse or oppression that we have have stood by and watched for too long. Pray against complacency and that it would be brought into the light.

Night of Hope

Let’s continue this conversation next week at our Night of Hope on May 23, where we hope to foster empathy and understanding as we engage in our own stories and those of new friends. As a church, we desire to grow in our diversity and truly reflect the culture and community of our city! We are already a diverse church, but many of us don't realize that yet, so we want to start the conversation by engaging in each other's story. We desire to press on in our conversations from previous nights of hope by continuing to uproot the prejudices of our own hearts and addressing the oppression that still faces many of our neighbors. Our prayer is that we would grow as a church in our compassion and understanding as we are heard and learn to hear others.