Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
April 21, 2019
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
— Luke 24:1-12, ESV
We Christians are an argumentative lot, so it should be no surprise that for two thousand years we have disputed over the date and name of our most revered annual celebration. The Apostle Paul simply and eloquently wrote:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (ref. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).”
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! But on what date, and when should it be commemorated, and what shall it be called?
The first Christians understood the intrinsic connection between Christianity and Judaism. After all, they were all Jewish. They established the indisputable truth that Christ was crucified on the day after the Passover. Passover that year fell on a Thursday; therefore, Jesus was crucified on Friday and rose again on Sunday.
Early Christianity drifted away from its Jewish roots by expulsion and compulsion, but for the first three centuries Christians commemorated the resurrection of Christ on the first Sunday after Passover. To this day in Greek and Latin speaking cultures it is called Paschal Sunday, Paschal being the word for Passover, sacrifice, and substitutionary atonement.
When Christianity went mainstream under Constantine, a total break with Judaism was sought. It was declared at the Council of Nicaea that the resurrection should be disconnected from the Passover and observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. To this day, Holy Week culminates on this calculation and can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25, depending upon the moon. It is ironic that we allow the moon to dictate when we celebrate the Son.
Eventually Christians wanted a name apart from Judaism, too, so in the eighth century a revered British saint named Bede suggested “Easter,” after the Anglo goddess of spring. Since pagan Anglos had largely converted to Christianity, Christianity converted the name of its most holy day to reflect an outdated pagan deity. This seems to bother some Christians, but calling the day Easter no more honors a false god than the name of our days of the week “Thursday” or “Sunday,” which were derived from the pagan gods Thor and Sol the sun god. As another Englishman would later write, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Then along came the Reformation, and Reformers ran from Roman Catholicism faster than medieval Christians ever thought about running from Judaism. Easter Sunday became Resurrection Sunday, and to this day Reformed churches prefer this banner. I rather like it myself, but in preparation for this sermon I learned it may not be the most fitting title.
Looking at Luke’s account, the prevailing attitude around the resurrection of Jesus would mark the day as “Surprise Sunday.” For, everything about it came as a complete surprise to the first followers of Christ and it completely transformed their lives.
The Resurrection was a Surprise to the Women at the Tomb
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James the Less (a most unfortunate suffix) were overcome with grief. They, along with mother Mary and the beloved Apostle John, had stood near the cross and watched Jesus die on Friday. They watched Joseph of Arimathea and the former Pharisee Nicodemus prepare the body for burial, and noticed they had not done a very thorough job. They could not do anything about it on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, for violating the Jewish Sabbath (according to legalistic Pharisaical standards) is precisely what got Jesus killed. So they came to the tomb on the first day of the week, Sunday, with hearts far heavier than the seventy-five pounds of spices the men had carried. They would do the job right, for anything a man can do a woman can do better. After that, they thought, they would put Jesus’ lifeless body to rest for good.
Grief promotes unbelief. It does not believe things can change, fortunes can be reversed, or that which is dead can live again. We go to funerals with this grief all the time. When was the last time you confidently expected your loved one to jump up out of the casket before the funeral was over? We absorb all sorts of bad news and swallow it with grief, unbelieving any change will come. Grief lays our faith to rest, puts it in a tomb, and leaves it there.
Grief blinds us until we are surprised by good news, especially the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Surprise, the stone was rolled away. Surprise, the body of Jesus was not in the tomb. Surprise, the angels said, “He is not here, but has risen.” All of a sudden, surprise made sense. “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. And they remembered his words.”
Remember the gospel, the messengers said. Jesus had preached it to them for three years. He even told them specifically what would happen in the end, that it would not be the end, only a beginning of abundant and eternal life with God in Christ. “And they remembered.” Their grief was swallowed by surprise and their lives were transformed. Change had come. God was not dead. Jesus is alive. The great movement of gospel Christianity would then spread across the world, and these women had walked in on the ground floor.
They were women, though, first century women, so they felt it their duty to report the surprise to their inferiors, the men.
The Resurrection was a Surprise to the Eleven Apostles
Simon Peter and the other Apostles were overcome with confusion. They were down a man at this point, numbering “the eleven.” The past seven days had their heads spinning. There was the triumphal entry the week before, when Christ came out as the Messiah. There were those confrontations in and around the Temple, when Jesus put the religious rulers to shame. There was the Seder, celebrated with Jesus in that upper room, when that last supper was transformed into the Lord’s Supper.
Their last days with Christ has been so exciting and wonderful, like a script from a heroic movie. Then the screen turned to black. Then came Judas, then the soldiers, then the arrest, then the trials, then the crucifixion, then finally, the tomb.
The tomb was a trip they could not take. Women could be fearless but men would be held accountable. If they went to the tomb they, too, could be arrested, tried, convicted, crucified. “Should I stay or should I go?” They were confused, and confusion stymies sincere belief.
They needed a surprise. But at first on that first day of the week, they did not believe the testimony of the women. “These words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Simon Peter, the leader, said he’d believe it when he’s seen it, so “Peter rose and ran to the tomb … and he went home marveling at what had happened.”
People get caught “marveling” (or, “wondering”) when they are confused, surprised, or excited. The first Christians were all of the above, in that order. Jesus had preached the gospel to the woman and the men. Jesus had fulfilled the gospel with His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus was about to commission them with this gospel, to live it every day and share it all over the world. Look at how surprise transformed their lives.
The surprise of the gospel always transforms lives, but it requires a resurrection.
The Resurrection is a Surprise To All Believers
People living in the world today, like the woman and the men of the empty tomb, seem to be overcome. There is too much grief in the world that hides the love of God. There is too much confusion in the world that distorts the truth of God. There is too much activity and technology in the world that overshadows the simple meaning of the gospel, grace, faith, and the lordship of Jesus Christ.
What people need is a surprise that leads to transformation. The gospel, carved out by the crucifixion of Jesus and capped by the resurrection of Christ, is the greatest and most surprising news God has ever given to man. It is full of surprises.
Tim Keller said: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
You may be surprised to know how sinful you are, and the degree to which it can alienate you from God. We live in a day when everybody is good. Andrea and I typically watch the evening news. Almost every night there is a shooting in our state’s capital city. Often they interview the family or neighbors of the suspect, who is always described as a really good person with a good heart. The evidence would argue differently. However, bad hearts are not the exclusive property of murderers and thieves (ref. Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10, 3:23).
You may be surprised to know how loved you are. Why in the world would God condescend to become a man and live a low income life in Galilee? Why in the world would he live in obscurity for thirty years, burst onto the scene for only three years, intentionally alienate the Jewish religious establishment, threaten the Pax Romana, and get Himself crucified on an old rugged cross? Why in the world? Because of the world, the people of the world, red and yellow, black and white. Need I quote John 3:16?
You may be surprised to know how easy it is to be a Christian, to ensure you will to go to Heaven when you die. Grace is absolutely free. Grace totally removes the sin barrier between you and God. Grace gives you the righteousness required to be a child of God, forever. It is all of grace, and grace comes with faith.
You may be surprise to know how hard it is to be a Christian. Grace is free but the faith it brings is costly. Faith is not attending a church service once a year. Neither is faith assured by attending a church service every Sunday of the year. Faith is the surprise that the life you hold so dear now belongs to someone else, to the Lord Jesus Christ, every Sunday and every day of the year because you, too, have been resurrected from the dead, by grace, through faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
John Newton, author of the most famous hymn of all time, said there will be three surprises in Heaven. The first is that he would see people he did not expect to be there. The second was that he would miss some people he thought would be there. The third and biggest surprise was that he, a sinner and former slave trader, would be there at all. That’s “Amazing Grace,” and amazing grace, like the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is always a surprise.
Copyright © 2019 Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, All rights reserved.
Check out the weekly happenings at Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
JESUS AND THE TEMPLE
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
April 14, 2019
In the center of old Jerusalem stood the Lord Jesus Christ. He was there for His last Passover. He was there to inaugurate what Christians now call Holy Week. In those final days of His first coming, Jesus chose to talk about His second coming. It all seems to have something to do with the Temple.
In the center of old Jerusalem stood the Temple, in more ways than one. It was the most imposing building in a city filled with great architecture. It was the most important site for religious activity in Israel. For many in Israel, the Temple was their religion, as many turned their faces in prayer not upward to God, nor downward in humility, but toward the Temple.
Jesus Said the Temple Must Come Down
5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, I am he!’ and, The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
The original Temple had been inspired by King David, built by King Solomon, and destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar. It had been rebuilt after the exiles returned from Babylonian captivity under the leadership of the likes of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel. It had been extravagantly remodeled by Herod the Great in an effort to curry favor with the Jews and solidify his political power in the region.
By the time of the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Temple was a symbol of personal pride and spiritual decay. Like the hypocritical religious rulers who ran it, the Temple was polished as a pearl on the outside but as empty as a poor man’s pockets on the inside. It was beautiful, but barren. Jesus said the time would soon come for the Temple to come down.
The disciples wanted to know when. Before Jesus told them when, He told them how. The Temple would be destroyed from within by heretical Christology put forth by religious and political power grabbers who are actually anti-Christ. Real religion will be scarce. World peace will prove elusive. Natural disasters will increase. Real Christians will be persecuted.
In congruence with some of the calamities described in the book of Revelation, Jesus’ prognostication of problems reveal the continual cycles of complications caused by sin. They are as old as man and as common as a cold. Jesus was speaking in double-entendre, too, predicting not only of events that would happen in between AD 30-70, but also of signs of the times that would reveal themselves between AD 70 and Armageddon.
That’s how, but to answer the disciples’ immediate question of when the Temple would be torn down, Jesus accurately predicts an event that transpired in AD 70.
Jesus Said the Temple Will Come Down
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
By rejecting Jesus Christ in AD 30, the Jews rebelled against God. Furthermore, they enlisted the aid of the despised Roman Empire to carry out their plot against the Christ. The partnership that formed the cross of soured, however, after Jesus arose and His followers dispersed to spread the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. After rebelling against God, the religious rulers of Israel led their people in a rebellion against Rome.
By AD 70, many devout followers of Christ had been run out of Jerusalem by the same religious establishment that crucified Christ. After informally expelling the Christians, the Jews took various actions to expel Roman officials and tax collectors. They declared their independence. They hunkered down within the walled city of Jerusalem. They trusted their Temple, to which they prayed and in which they paraded, would protect them from harm.
Trusting in the Temple of God rather than the God of the Temple proved worthless. Roman soldiers surrounded the city of Jerusalem, broke down the walls, killed innumerable Jews, and destroyed the Temple. God watched what God had predicted and the Temple came down.
This was the Temple where Jesus preached and taught. This was the Temple that was the center of religion and society in Israel. This was the Temple that was taken apart, stone by stone. The spot where the Temple stood became vacant, the Jewish people were dispersed, the land began to experience various occupations under a variety of Gentile rulers and Palestinian peoples, and the carrying out of Old Covenant ritual worship ceased.
The Temple was gone. The Temple remains gone. But since AD 70, the question has been, will the Temple ever return?
Jesus Said the Temple Will Return in the Last Days
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Jesus’ Jewish followers would have been genuinely confused at this juncture. They admired the Temple and thought, like all Jews, God has to have a Temple. Will the Temple be rebuilt? When will the Temple return to the center of Jerusalem? Since Christ has been rejected by the soon-to-be-torn-down Temple, will He return to a new Temple? Jesus answers with more prophecy and a new parable.
The heavens and the earth are shaking now. For the first time in history, scientists have photographed a black hole in the heavens. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times reported this week that natural disasters on earth are the worst ever, and “Ever is a long time.” Almost all would agree that many of our religious leaders are apostate and our political leaders seem to have lost their ever-loving-pea-picking minds. Surely the time is ripe to “see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
To the prophecy Jesus adds a parable. He will come again when the fig tree leafs. The generation living on planet earth when the fig tree unfurls will witness the second coming of Christ. Parables make points, symbols represent people, and truth is told in the form of a folk tale about a fig tree. So what’s with the fig tree?
Fig trees are found in the first days of the garden of Eden and in the last days of Armegeddon. Figs are found sixty-eight times in Holy Scripture, literally and fig-uratively (pardon the pun). A figurative fig tree, when found in Scripture, is often a symbol for the nation of Israel. This is one of two interpretations. Both of them are urgent.
If the fig tree in Jesus’ parable is Israel, then consider these facts. Israel disappeared as a nation when the Temple was destroyed in AD 70. The Temple is gone. The Jewish people were dispersed into many nations until Adolph Hitler rounded up as many Jews as he could, gassed six million of them, and left the rest in the concentration camps liberated by the Americans and the Russians. The survivors had no nation of their own anymore, and had not had, since AD 70.
This changed in 1948. The Israel we know now was born then. If that’s the leafing of the fig tree, then people who were born in 1948 will live to see the second coming of Jesus Christ. By the way, over seventy percent of people born in 1948 are still alive today, but even those with the best genes can only expect to live for another decade or two. No one can know the exact time of Christ’s return (ref. Matthew 24:36), but can we know the time frame? Does this parable mean that Christ will come between now and the next ten or twenty?
Before we get overly apocalyptic, know that the mainstream interpretation of the parable does not identify Israel as the fig tree. But even if political Israel is irrelevant to spiritual prophecy, the second coming of Christ according to this discourse could come during any generation at any time that has experienced a whole lot of shaking going on among the heavens and the earth and the nations. That’s our generation, so the second coming of Christ can and will happen sometime between right now and whenever God has chosen. So, what are we going to do?
Jesus Said Come to the Temple
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.
We should watch for the Temple, wait for the Temple to return, and come to the Temple. Or, watch and wait for the Temple to come to us.
“Watch yourselves,” Jesus said. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (ref. 2 Corinthians 13:5). If you are a Christian, then the second coming of Christ and its accumulative apocalyptic events are of no worry to you. Not only can you gladly watch for the Temple, you and your fellow Christians are the Temple (ref. 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21)! The Temple has returned!
And, the Temple will return. Consider John the Beloved Apostle’s famous last words: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (ref. Revelation 21:22). The day Christ returns is the day the Temple returns, for the Lord Jesus Christ is the Temple to which all saved people will gather for glory and eternal life.
And so Jesus begins and ends this sermon with the Temple, in the Temple, about the Temple. The Temple has gone away, it has returned, and it will return for all the world to see and “stand before the Son of Man.”
Copyright © 2019 Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, All rights reserved.
Check out the weekly happenings at Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
THE ORIGINAL TWO CENTS
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
April 7, 2019
1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
— Luke 21:1-4, ESV
With yet another idiom taken from the pages of the Bible, we put in our “two cents” when weighing in on the popular topics of the day. But that, and a dollar bill, will buy you a cup of coffee. In other words, our opinions, our “two cents,” really aren’t worth much.
This was not so with the original two cents. They were actually two small copper coins, known as lepta or mites in Jesus’ day, which had an actual value of about one-half of one cent. They were given by “a poor widow” in this story told by Luke (and Mark), a beloved story which adds to the lore of the last week of Christ’s life. And, the original two cents are worth more than you know.
Let’s look at the two coins in two ways.
Giving in Man’s Eyes
Remember almost everything Jesus did that week was calculated to raise the ire of the politico-religious establishment. This story is no exception. After besting them in at least four crucial debates on the Temple grounds, Jesus then moved inside and embarrassed the Pharisees and Sadducees over the offerings they gave to God.
Everything at Passover week, and the first Holy week, was public. Jesus’ triumphal entrance into the city was quite public. Sacrificial animals were publicly sold, and Jesus made news that day. His debates with the religious rulers were out in the open. Even the giving of offerings were done in a way that all could see, and commentators, like Jesus, could be heard, by everyone.
When Jesus said, “This poor widow has put in more than all of them,” it surely enraged the rich religious rulers, one of whom probably just foreclosed on the poor widow’s house. It also exposed the fallacy of giving and living in man’s eyes. Bigger is not always better.
If a person is listed among the richest people in the world, are they really? If a coach is declared the winningest coach in his sport, is he really? If a church is listed among the largest or fastest growing churches in the denomination, is it really? I suppose it depends on how you define true riches, true winners, and true churches.
God’s definitions are different from ours.
Let’s stick with giving for now, and let’s look at it through man’s eyes, particularly the rich men who “gave out of their abundance.” To them bigger was better and the most made you the best. Their flamboyance in giving offerings was already well known (ref. Matthew 6:1-2). They certainly made it easy for Jesus and everyone else to see that day exactly how much money they put into the public offering.
They gave “out of their abundance” of money, because they had used politics and religion to make a lot of money. They gave “out of their abundance” of pride, because pride was the main thing they stored in the reservoir of their hearts. They gave “out of their abundance” of self-centeredness and self-importance, for they truly believed the fate of Israel depended upon rich and influential people like themselves, not poor widows nor poor carpenters’ sons from Galilee.
In man’s eyes, their giving identified them as the most rich, important, influential, powerful people in their world. This widow was a nobody. Two mites were nothing. This Jesus of Nazareth was a nobody. His teaching amounted to nothing. How big they looked and how small others looked, in man’s eyes.
But, what about God’s eyes?
Giving in God’s Eyes
Giving is always in God’s eyes because God always sees what people give. With the omniscience often ascribed to Santa Claus, the true and living God is always awake and attentive to all of our waking and sleeping moments. He knows what we are giving. Perhaps more importantly, He knows how we are living. Jesus certainly knew all about this “poor widow.”
Have you ever noticed how almost all of the heroes of Holy Week were women? Men betrayed, denied, ran away, and cowered down. Women, mostly named Mary, stooped and anointed Jesus with perfume, stood out in the Passover offering, stood by Him at the cross, and were the first to stand outside the empty tomb. Though the poor widow’s name is not mentioned, and few if any actually knew it, Jesus saw her and knew her and loved her and commended her for her great faith. God sees all, and all of our giving and living will be ultimately commended or condemned by the Maker.
God sees our giving. Churches today try to keep public offerings as private as possible. Usually only the church treasurer and perhaps another counter or two know what the members give on any given Sunday. But God knows, He always knows, and He knows way more than you may know.
God knows more than the treasurer, the banker, the credit card company, and the IRS combined. God knows how much you give. God knows how much you have left, too. God knows how every penny is spent or saved. God even knows the motive by which you give, spend, or save, whether it be sustenance, sacrifice, or selfishness.
God saw what the widow gave and commended her for it. Her two cents wouldn’t make any difference in the temple budget that year, but she gave anyway for giving is the right thing to do. She did not stop at ten percent, or fifty percent, but gave a hundred percent, for at that time in her life she believed that’s what God called on her to do. She gave, moreover she obeyed, and her two cents were more valuable then, and now, than any of us could ever imagine.
God sees our living. The most important giving you can ever offer to God is obedient living. Obedience requires the grace of faith. Obedience is the proof of love. Obedience has no pride and no fear. Obedience is familiarity with the word of God and sensitivity to the Spirit of God. And God knows, precisely, whether we are living obedient or disobedient lives.
So how much sacrificial giving, and how much obedient living, does God want from His children? God wants more. In His commendation He said, “This poor widow has put in more.”
Can you give more to church and charity this year than you did the year before? Can you spend more time in the public and private worship of God this year than you did the year before? Can you intentionally share the gospel and offer acts of kindness with more people this year than the year before? Can you, well, you get the idea.
God put this poor widow’s giving and living on the big screen for all of us to see. Like many episodes recorded in Scripture, it is exceptional rather than normative. It is a rare thing for God to raise the dead or miraculously heal a terminal disease. It is also rare for God to call upon a willing soul to put their last penny into the plate. But I believe God would have all of us to examine our own giving and our own living and make a faithful pledge to do “more.”
The big idea of total commitment to Christ is the idea that springs from these two copper coins, the original two cents. Such love, obedience, and sacrifice is infinitely valuable in God’s eyes. May we all learn, love, and follow the call to give our all to the Lord.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org