Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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Pentecost 24 – November 11 – Mark 12:38-44 “The Inglorious Lives Of God’s True Children”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read from Mark 10.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • How can you tell if a person is “doing well” in life?  How do you evaluate the lives of your children?  Does the label on their clothes tell you?  Is it whether or not their clothes are “shabby”?  Is it the stories they can tell you – how they bought this or that, or where they went on vacation, or what kind of food they eat?   Does the kind of house they live in answer the question for you? 
  • We all start out in life with virtually nothing – and our parents teach us and train us to take care of ourselves.  By and by we get employment and begin to accumulate things – and we get excited if there are good prospects to further enrich our lives with things, and with greater wealth.  Life gets easier when you have nice things, and lots of them, and enough money to hire others to take care of our chores.  Is this how we should evaluate “how well” a person is doing in this life? 
  • In our Scripture readings for today we get a glimpse of the lifestyle of three people:  Elijah, the poor widow he stayed with, and the poor widow making her offering at the temple.  None of these people “had it made.”  And given the description of their lives, we probably wouldn’t conclude that any of them were really “doing well” in life!  In fact, socio-economically, and as far as prestige and importance is concerned, they were all struggling miserably – and near the point of failure.  Yet all three are presented to us as great examples of faith and faithfulness to God, the God of love. 
  • So we consider this morning “THE INGLORIOUS LIVES OF GOD’S TRUE CHILDREN” – so that we might understand what is truly “doing well” in life, and that we might avoid some of the pitfalls of pursuing wealth, privilege, prestige, pride, power, and prerogative.  The fact is:


I.  Children Of God Often Appear Unimportant And Even Pitiful


A.  The Widow Of Zaraphath Was On The Brink Of Starvation, Along With Her Poor Son


1 Kings 17  “She said, ‘As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.  And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in  and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.’”


B.  The Prophet Elijah Was Likewise Poor, Having Even Less Than This Widow And Dependent Upon Her For Food And Life


1 Kings 17  “Elijah called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink.’  And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”


C.  So Also The Widow In The Temple Was Virtually Destitute

Text:  “A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more  than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’”


D.  So Also Christ Offered Himself Up For Our Sin And Guilt – In His Suffering And Death On The Cross


Heb. 9  “But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time.”


Statement:  About the only thing that these people had going for them was that they shared a deep faith in God and a deep love for God.  There is nothing else in their lives to commend them – they were the poor, the failures of this world, the people incapable of “climbing the ladder” of success; they were on the brink of starvation.  Yet they are the ones whom God commends – and they are great heroes of faith and love! 


Application:  The dynamics of life in this world – the judgment of the world and God’s evaluation of people – remain exactly the same.  Though the world looks at the poor as being “inglorious” and perhaps even worthless and expendable, Christ does not judge us on the basis of “how much” we have been able to put away in cupboards and storage jars, or for that matter in possessions and accounts, or even “how much we put into the treasury, our offerings.  Rather, He looks for faith and “love for God” in the lives of His dear children – and commends the faithful poor of the kingdom most highly! 


Transition:  And this is important for us to understand, for by contrast:


II.  The Rich And Powerful Of This World Remain Concerned About Their Place In Society, With Prestige, Wealth, And Power


Text:  “In His teaching, Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers.  They will receive the greater condemnation.”


A.  Note That They Demand Accolades And Respect


B.  Note That They Are Interested In Having Privilege And Being Honored


C.  Note That They Accumulate Wealth At The Expense Of Others, Even The Poorest And Most Vulnerable – The Widows


D.  Note That Their Spirituality And Religiosity Is Mere Pretense – Long Robes And Long Prayers For Show


Statement:  We might think that we are far better, above such wretched nonsense – but perhaps we might want to think again, when we consider how we like it when we perceive that we are being “slighted.”  We also might want to consider what our “main goals” are in life, and just how happy and contented we would be if our finances were the same as that of the poor widows and Elijah.  We might want to consider whether there is any sense of “pride” and “prerogative” that we demand, in view of how “successful” or “wealthy” we have become.   And we might want to consider issues of “socio-economic justice” in our society – the disparity of income that exists in America, and the disparity between what we have and what others in other parts of the world suffer.  Would we have shared with Elijah, or would we have put our last pennies into the offering plate? 


Application:  Understand, simply being “poor” is not a virtue in itself – but then neither is being rich, successful, proud, and arrogant.  What is virtuous is great faith and trust in God – regardless of our circumstances, and great love for God and others, no matter how poor we are.  This is the outcome of faith in Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s influence upon us – and this is what makes us truly children of God and disciples of Christ, even though this means our lives will appear common, mundane, or even “inglorious” to other people who are “of the world.” 


Transition:  And we must take great care and caution in this, for:


III.  In The End God’s Children Receive Eternal Life, While The Unbelieving Rich And Pretentious Will Receive Even Greater Condemnation


Text:  “They will receive the greater condemnation.”


Conclusion:  Take great care then, dear friends in Christ, as to how you think about others – and “how well” they are doing.  Take care in evaluating your own goals and desires – whether they are consonant with great faith in God, and great love for others.  Your offerings are a great indicator and diagnostic!  If we know God’s love for us in Christ Jesus, then love will become our highest priority in life!  God grant it to us all, for Jesus’ sake, Amen. 


Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.