Coming to the Place of Complete Surrender

Sermon preached by Pastoral Intern Wasihun Gutema

The text for today (Mark. 12: 41-44) is connected to the preceding sections where Jesus silenced the Sadducees of their question about resurrection. Jesus did not correct the Sadducees in this section. He did not even engage in argument.

The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection at all and the reason they came up with the question of marriage leverage is because they have portrayed resurrection as earthly images which Jesus rejected.  They took the idea from those who were pictorially describing resurrection during that time.[1]

Resurrection is completely different from the life that we have here on earth. What resembles both the life that we live now and the life to come is only the truth that our relationship with God continues.  Death cannot separate us from God. Our life is not a transitory experience; it is something that lasts forever.[2]

This was followed by a question from a teacher of the law who came up with the question of “which commandment is more important?” Jesus responded to the teacher’s question that the central and important of all commandments is a love to God and our neighbor.  The teacher applauded Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees and the answer Jesus gave to him.[3]

The teacher approved Jesus teaching but approving Jesus’ teaching does not mean someone is in the kingdom of God. Jesus said you are not far from the kingdom of God but it does not mean you are in. To be in the kingdom, demands submission to the authority and person of Christ. The teacher of the law was also silenced but if he took the next step to be in the kingdom was unclear. [4]

Unlike the teacher of the law whose end was unclear, we see in this section a woman who came to attend worship.  This woman’s identity is not known. The only thing we know is that she was a widow. She was not a woman with great reputation among the society. She was obscured and had no status that revealed her.  She was even unnamed meaning Mark did not give us her name. 

There are two things that we know. She was a widow and she was poor. One cannot be poor because of being a widow or widower. Poorness cannot be resulted from being a widow.  It is also unknown that her coming to worship was seen by others.  I do not think leaders have seen her in the temple. She was poor and the big eyes could not see her.

As the section tells us there were several people in the temple on this day (vs. 41-43).  Christ and his disciples were among them. The rich people were in the temple. The eyes of the many were on the rich people. The widow too was in the temple. I doubt if the eyes of the many could have seen the widow.

The rich were casting much amount of money and have all the eyes upon them.  Temple leaders have their eyes and their applauses for them. The widow did not also expect any applause from any temple leader or temple member but she went to the temple for worship. The others may have come to get applauses. The others may have come to be seen and to be appreciated of their giving.

They may also have come to worship because we do not see that Christ is criticizing them.  The day was probably a day designated for giving. It may be a special day of giving for the temple as giving in this section drew the eyes and attention of Christ.  The rich were giving and the poor widow was also giving. Unlike the rich that gave from their portion, the poor widow gave “all that she had, even all her living.”[5] She did not have any portion left. She surrendered everything. She came to the place of complete surrender. What can we learn from this section?

  1. The widow gave all: She had no guarantee for the future. She had no guarantee of Social Security. She had no guarantee of government support. She gave the only coins that she had. She gave the final portion of her life.

The values of the coins were insignificant. They had no value for any observer because they were like pennies (may have a value) in this country. Two pennies have a purchasing power but I do not know what they can purchase. The poor widow had two copper coins termed in Greek as Leptos and Quadrant in Romans.

If it is today, the widow could have given two pennies which have insignificant value. The value of the two copper coins was insignificant for any observer but it was money for the widow. It was her all life (v.44). It was her last resort that she gave without any guarantee. She came to a point of no going back. She came to a point of complete surrender. She surrendered herself without leaving any room. It was her last plate, it was her last food but she abandoned for the sake of Christ. She gave it for the sake of Christ not for the sake of show. She abandoned her last plate not for the sake of getting any applause which of course she did not get from anyone except Jesus.  Is there any portion of your life that you abandon for Christ today? Jesus demands total and complete surrender from all of you today. Surrender your marriage. Surrender your speech. Surrender your health, your education, your life and your account. Surrender whatever is left.

  1. She could have kept one. Those who love Christ give everything. For those who love Christ, keeping a portion is not healthy. Ananias and sapphire kept a portion of and died. The woman in 1kings 17:8-16 could have kept a portion of the oil and the floor but she brought both to Elijah.  She gave the last portion to the prophet Elijah with no guarantee of a bright future. Are you planning to keep one of the two that you have? Abandon for the sake of Christ. Have trust in the power of Christ and it will be surplus.  Out of your emptiness, God is going to bring surplus.  Let us have a radical trust in Christ today. Let us have a radical trust over all things that we have questions.
  2. Christ reveals all that surrender their last. The woman had no chance of being revealed. Her history or her background is not going to reveal her at all.  Other have the opportunity to be seen because they have ample. They have a big portion from which they shared and that could have revealed them. Some among the crowds were revealed by the money they gave but the woman was reveled by her commitment and dependency on Christ.

Christ is not attracted by what we give. He is the one attracted by our absolute surrender. Jesus is the one attracted by unconvincing mathematics of faith that we have.  Even when our inner tells us that tomorrow is dark, let us surrender to Christ completely who has the power to reveal us.  Even when we think that we are going to die because of giving what we have let us surrender to Christ.  Our God is the God that works on our empty barrels. Let us empty our barrels and completely surrender, for out of our emptiness surplus will come. When God is added to our empty barrels, we become surplus.

  1. Complete Sacrifice is what Christ is looking for. Those who follow Christ are those that completely sacrifice themselves for Christ despite the situation. The two women that we see today have sacrificed themselves. They are the best examples of discipleship.

The whole mystery of discipleship is complete surrender with no room left. All room is either vacant for Christ or entirely taken by Christ. Do we have any room that is kept out of the touch of Christ today? Let us surrender it.

A Napoleon Bonaparte soldier was hurt on combat during the French Revolution. While a doctor was making surgery on his chest, he told the doctor that in case he goes deep he will come across Napoleon Bonaparte and he must be careful.[6] If someone goes deep into us, could he see Christ in our DNA? Could he see all the rooms occupied regardless of circumstances? May Christ help us! Amen!

[1] David E. Garland, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Zondervan publishing house, 1996), 476-477.

[2] Garland, The NIV Application Commentary, 476-477.

[3]Garland, The NIV Application Commentary, 476-477.

[4] Garland, The NIV Application Commentary, 476-477.

[5] Taken from the king James Bible,2000.

[6] Taken from a sermon preached by my long time friend, Wake Jeo, who is at present living in Oslo, Norway.

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