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1 Kings 17:8-16 1
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” 12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

Background

This is an account of a divinely ordained encounter between a widow who is at the end of her resources, and a prophet of God. God put them together for a reason, or a set of reasons.

Elijah shows us obedience here. He is sent by God to intervene with this widow. He gives her specific instructions, and she at first is hesitant. She explains her situation. We understand that it is dire.

In response, Elijah tells her not be afraid. God’s messengers are always telling people not to be afraid. Fear is immobilizing. When one is freed from fear, by God’s graciousness, one can have hope and live into the future.

Elijah further makes the promise of the meal and the oil not being depleted. What the woman needs will be provided. It sounds like wishful thinking, but Elijah had proven himself over and over to be the conduit of God’s power and grace. So, she dares to trust what he says. And what Elijah promises comes to reality.

Items for discussion

  • What were the reasons that you believe God had in mind when he sent Elijah to the widow?
  • What did Elijah do for the widow?
  • What did the widow do for Elijah?
  • Would you call this event a miracle? Please explain.
  • What must we do to trust the way the widow trusted?

Mark 12:41:44
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Background

Jesus is the observer of human life, and even as He observes, he is also aware of the inner workings of the heart and mind. So, when he watches the people putting their gifts in the Treasury of the Temple, he knows what motivates their giving.  Sometimes people are motivated by faith and sometimes something else motivates  them. In any case, their gift can be used to glorify God and to extend God’s love.

But we know that some gifts stand out, because of this moment in Christ’s ministry. A widow puts in everything she has. We do not know why. But we do know that she is generous. We know that she is faithful. We know that she wants to honor God in this way. All of these are good.
Many others were putting in much. Their gifts were also needed and thankfully received. But the widow’s gift was extraordinary in its generosity.

Mark does not tell us any more about the widow or her plight afterwards.

Items for Discussion

  • Why did the widow go to the Temple? How do her reasons line up with the reasons Christians go to church in today’s times?
  • What did the widow do for God?
  • Why did Jesus praise the widow?
  • Would you call this event an act of faith? Please explain.
  • What must we do to trust the way the widow trusted?
  • What is the widow’s legacy?

Discussion Challenge

  • How does the contemporary church develop a “widow’s faith” in all that worship?
  • What would this do for the church? For the world?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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