1 Samuel 1.4-20
Some of us are going on a tour of the Holy Land next year. I’m getting ready to be seriously impressed by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard. It is all that’s left of the Jerusalem temple that Jesus knew; the rest of it was utterly destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The Western Wall isn’t much compared to the temple in all its glory, but it still impresses to this very day.
So we can understand one of Jesus’ followers exclaiming,
Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!
Of course, the temple would have seemed just simply staggering to a hick from the backblocks of Galilee.
But Jesus had had quite enough of the temple. He replied,
Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.
No wonder Jesus was all ‘templed-out’. You’ve got to remember the week he’d just had. It started when he drove the money changers out of the temple, declaring:
Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.
Then day after day he had discussion (argument!) after discussion (argument!!) with the religious leaders about marriage and divorce, death and resurrection, paying taxes to Caesar and who was John the Baptist. Jesus won all these arguments, which just made the leaders angrier and angrier with him. And all the more determined to put him away for good.
And then the poor widow came along. She put a pittance into the temple treasury—two tiny coins which were everything she had.
And why did she have so little? Because of the way widows were left on the social and financial scrapheap by everyone. Including the temple system, including the scribes, who grew fat on widows’ misfortune.