"I cannot work anymore," the woman murmured under her breath. "I am too old. What can I do? The scribes will take my house. I have nothing!" Her feet shuffled as she made her way ever-so-slowly to the temple. It was all she could do to climb the rise of the Mount itself. Her breathing labored and her heart ached, but she clutched a small pouch to her chest with all her might. Gnarled, withered fingers protected the coins inside, the only two she had left to her name.
The pouch was small, but even it's miniscule size was much too big for the two coins within to jostle together. In happier, wealthier days, her pouch had been full, and the sound of jangling coins had been music to her ears. But that was long ago before her husband's death, when he earned their money by the sweat of his brow.
Now, the goat she relied on for milk to sell was almost dead itself, too old to produce milk of any quality. The widow couldn't afford to feed herself, much less the goat. The scribe who usually took pity on her had laughed at the pitiful amount of milk the widow had offered him. He'd tossed two mites in the dust before slamming the door in her face. She always earned much more than two mites, but the goat's supply had waned, and the pompous scribe was apparently beyond caring. If she couldn't scrape together more than this, she'd lose everything she owned.
The widow found the first coin in the dirt right away, but the second had landed underneath a nearby bush. Her dignity had fled after asking for help and being rebuffed by the Pharisees making their way to the temple to worship. They were important men, pious men, and they couldn't be bothered by stopping for a poor widow and her mite on the ground. They'd soil their fine garments, and they had to be clean before the Lord. Her knees had screamed and her back cried out but she'd managed to crawl on her hands and knees to retrieve the mite. It wasn't much. At all. But she couldn't risk leaving it. She needed it too badly.
"I can't give an offering today," she moaned, her eyes stinging with tears. The temple came into view as the crowd pressed in. "Adonai, I am sorry." A sniffle escaped her, but that was all she would allow. It was useless to beg for help from the scribes and the Pharisees, as their wealth was for El Shaddai, not for a broken old woman. Despite her hardened countenance, a tear made a trail down her cheek as she watched the teachers of the Law recite their long, glorious prayers. Surely Adonai listened to them and esteemed them as high as the heavens were above the earth. She could never hope to gain the favor they surely had in the eyes of Hashem.
Suddenly, a commotion startled her. Within the temple was the handsome, young rabbi who stirred up the masses. She'd heard of Him, this Yeshua of Nazareth. He reminded her of her husband in his better days, full of life and charm. She'd secretly hoped He'd be at the temple today, as she wanted to hear His sermons for herself. He esteemed the Lord above all else, and that was all she wished to do. Whether or not Adonai heard her prayers compared to the scribes was another matter entirely.
Yeshua's words captivated her. His deep voice resonated within the temple and seemed to penetrate her very soul. He spoke of King David and the Messiah, and soon whispers spread among the crowd that Yeshua Himself was the Son of David. The widow pondered that possibility with excitement, but she squashed it. The Messiah was a king. And this man...was from Nazareth.
Then His words seemed to take a turn. Something in His tone made her sit up and listen. “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," He said, glancing around. His eyes roved the crowd and caught her gaze. She was too mesmerized to look away. Her belly leapt at His intensity, and if she'd been any younger, she might have swooned. He seemed to look right through her, straight to her heart. Could He see her worries? Did He know her troubles? His next words confirmed her thoughts.
"Who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
The widow's eyes filled with tears. Still, His gaze held hers. He gave her a slight nod and His features softened, until a genuine smile lit up His face. He knew. She didn't know how, but this man knew her plight! He knew her thoughts. He knew she felt worthless compared to the scribes, He knew they would take her home. His words were so foreign, but they filled her with hope. He confirmed what she already knew. Those pious men were hypocrites!
She watched as each of the scribes and Pharisees wandered over to the treasury, perhaps moved by the rabbi's words, and made a vain show of their offering to the Lord. Within the box they placed more money than the widow had seen in her entire life. Her own offerings hadn't always been extravagant, but they had always been honest. In that moment, the widow remembered her Scripture. Hashem favors the humble.
"Adonai," the widow prayed, her voice unwavering, "I trust You. If this man is truly the Son of David, then I know His words are true. The Kingdom of God is worth more to me than my life."
As she shuffled past the scribes and Pharisees, they scoffed and grinned at her, whispering amongst themselves. She cared not. Her faith did not rely upon their approval. If Yeshua spoke truth, if they receive a greater condemnation for their hypocrisy, then she resolved not to be like them.
Standing in front of the box, she opened her pouch and dug out the two small coins. "Do what You will with these coins," she whispered. "Everything I have is Yours. Yeshua says Your eye is on the sparrow. Please be on me as well."
Upon each coin, the widow bestowed a kiss before dropping them into the treasury box. A smile crept onto her face and a peace like she'd never known overcame her. She glanced back at the rabbi, only to find Him still watching her. She blushed and bowed her head.
Yes, she suddenly believed this young man from Nazareth could be a King.
© Becka Goings, original fiction based on Luke 20:41-47 & Luke 21:1-4