Mark 12: 38-44
Think for a moment about the people who inspired to you be who you are today. Now think about the lives you may be inspiring. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher and help others to learn. I was inspired to be a teacher by the teachers who taught me. I saw the difference they made in the lives of the people they taught and I wanted to do the same.
You may remember that in last weeks scripture we had a rare moment of unity between Jesus and the young scribe over what was the most important commandment. They both agreed that it was To love the Lord you God with all your heart and mind and soul and to love your neighbor.
In this weeks scripture, things have changed. Their moment of unity is gone. It appears that Jesus and the scribes are back to criticizing one other over how the other observes the commandment. The scribes are upset that Jesus is ignoring the commandments by socializing and eating with sinners. Jesus is upset with the scribes for using the commandments to exclude people from God’s Kingdom.
If they have indeed gone back to criticizing one another, the Jesus criticism of the scribes is warranted. In our scripture passage this morning Jesus is in the Temple with his Disciples, people watching. Jesus pays particular attention to the scribes and the way they walk through the Temple. He says that they are only focused on themselves on their self importance and not on those who need help, like the poor widow who put all that she had in the temple offering box.
It would seem that Jesus had gone back to being critical towards the scribes and other religious leaders. But I want to suggest that perhaps Jesus was doing something different. Remember last week, just before Jesus answered the young scribes question about what the greatest commandment, Jesus spoke the Shema to the scribe. You may remember that I said that Jesus spoke the Shema in an ernest effort to find common ground with the scribe and to show him respect. Jesus could have been harsh with the scribe but he wasn’t. I don’t think that Jesus liked being negative. Jesus preferred to change people hearts and mind towards God and towards one another. I think he understood, as we all do that you don’t change people’s minds and hearts by being mean and putting them down.
Last week Jesus intent was to show respect to the scribe. This week I believe Jesus intent was to inspire the Scribe to be better and do better by pointing out they were behaving as compared to the actions of the poor widow, who gave everything she had into the Temple Offering.
One of the reasons I believe that Jesus was trying to inspire the scribes was because the widow’s story of the selfless giving of almost all that she had is still inspiring people today. Truth is, there is not a Church Financial Stewardship Campaign that does not in some way include her act of faith. I doubt that she could have imagined then, how her selfless act of faith would inspire people today.
That women’s story of faith reminds all of that we have our own stories of faith. Each one is unique, each one is important and each one can be a story of inspiration for another person, especially one who is struggling with their faith.
One of the things we all struggle is the question of our purpose on earth. I believe that part of our purpose is to inspire others. It’s sort of like the idea of paying it forward. Someone inspires us to live faithful lives and so pay it forward by inspiring others to do the same. To put it another way we are blessed to be a blessing to others. Earlier in the service we honored the service of our Veterans. The reason we honor them is not just for their service to our country but say thank you for their inspiration to us be better people ad better citizens.
This past week we learned of the tragic death of Major Brent Taylor mayor of North Ogden Utah. He was on his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed by an Afghan solider he was helping to train. His death might have gone unnoticed except for when it happened and the letter he wrote his family and friends. It death occurred as people were going to the polls to vote. In the letter he wrote that he hoped everyone would make their voice heard and exercise their right to vote. Jeri Gale, a neighbor, of Brett and his family told the Deseret News, We were very divided with the politics of the community until he was selected. And he just brought everybody together. He had a vision for the community. And he wanted us to remember to love each other and to work together to better the community, and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last five years,” You could say that Brett Taylor lived his life inspiring others.
The title of my message today is living lives that inspire. That is part of our purpose as God’s children. The problem is we either forget that and focus on just ourselves just as the scribes focused just on themselves and their self importance. Or, we don’t think we have anything to offer that is inspiring like that poor widow who put a penny in Temple Offering. The good news today is that your life and your faith can be an inspiration to others. But more importantly we do it because Jesus did it for us.
Over the centuries, the church has been inspired to do the things that Jesus. Remember what Jesus told his Disciples. Greater things shall you do than I did. Of course the greatest example of faith and inspiration is that of Jesus who as Hebrews 9:24-28 says:
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement,so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
What the writers of Hebrew is talking about is Jesus sacrifice for our sins. But it is much more than just dying for sins, it’s also about freeing us from sin so that we can follow Jesus’ example of faith and sacrifice. To put it another way Jesus death frees us from our focus of self concern so that we can begin to lives of faith and hope and love that will inspire others to do the same. Perhaps one day they will be telling your story of faith and witness just like they do of that poor widow, who as Jesus tells gave everything for her God.