Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 33: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MARK 12:41-44; LUKE 21:1-4
41. And while Jesus was sitting opposite to the treasury, he perceived how the multitude threw money into the treasury, and many rich persons put in much. 42. And a poor widow came, and threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43. And having called his disciples to him, he said, Verily I say to you, that this poor widow hath thrown in more than all who have thrown into the treasury: 44. For they all have thrown in out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty hath thrown in all that she had, all her living. 120
1. And, lifting up his eyes, he saw those rich men who were throwing their gifts into the treasury. 2. And he saw also a certain poor widow throwing into it two mites. 3. And he said, Verily I say to you, that this poor widow hath thrown in more than all: 4. For all these, out of their abundance, have thrown into the offering of God; but she out of her poverty hath thrown in all the living which she had. 121
Mark 12:43. Verily I say to you. This reply of Christ contains a highly useful doctrine that whatever men offer to God ought to be estimated not by its apparent value, 122 but only by the feeling of the heart, and that the holy affection of him who according to his small means, offers to God the little that he has, is more worthy of esteem than that of him who offers a hundred times more out of his abundance. In two ways this doctrine is useful, for the poor who appear not to have the power of doing good, are encouraged by our Lord not to hesitate to express their affection cheerfully out of their slender means; for if they consecrate themselves, their offering, which appears to be mean and worthless, will not be less valuable than if they had presented all the treasures of Crœsus. 123 On the other hand, those who possess greater abundance, and who have received from God larger communications, are reminded that it is not enough if in the amount of their beneficence they greatly surpass the poor and common people; because it is of less value in the sight of God that a rich man, out of a vast heap, should bestow a moderate sum, than that a poor man, by giving very little, should exhaust his store. This widow must have been a person of no ordinary piety, who, rather than come empty into the presence of God, chose to part with her own living. And our Lord applauds this sincerity, because, forgetting herself, she wished to testify that she and all that she possessed belonged to God. In like manner, the chief sacrifice which God requires from us is self-denial. As to the sacred offerings, it is probable that they were not at that time applied properly, or to lawful purposes; but as the service of the Law was still in force, Christ does not reject them. And certainly the abuses of men could not prevent the sincere worshippers of God from doing what was holy, and in accordance with the command of God, when they offered for sacrifices and other pious uses.
“Toute sa substance;” — “all her substance.”
“Tout le vivre, ou bien, qu’elle avoit;” — “all the living, or wealth, that she had.”
“Selon le prix qu’il vaut au monde;” — “according to the price at which it is estimated by the world.”
“De Crœsus, lequel on dit avoir esté si riche;” — “of Crœsus, who is said to have been so rich.” — The allusion is to Crœsus, King of Lydia, whose vast wealth was a proverb among the Greeks and Romans. — Ed.