Luke 21:1-5

Luke 21:1 (KJB)
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

Jesus had sat down in front of the treasury which consisted of 13 trumpet shaped chests which were the receptacles for money. Each one had a separate purpose. The chests were marked with the purpose such as: temple tribute, incense, sacrifices, wood, or whatever there were needs for. Jesus was watching carefully how the people had dropped their money into the treasury. Those that were rich were able to make large gifts. There was nothing wrong with the rich making large gifts but Jesus was not impressed with the rich and their gifts.

Luke 21:2 (KJB)
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

Mites - Leptons

Then as the rich were putting their large gifts into the treasury, a lonely widow approached the treasury and put in two mites. The value of the coins were very minimal. A lepton was the smallest coin available in New Testament times and it was equal to about 1/64 of a Roman denarius which was the daily wage for a laborer. So you would need 64 mites to equal one day’s wages. The nationwide minimum wage in America on August 2013 is $7.25 per hour. By today’s standard that would put the mite or lepton at 90¢. I have a lepton in my possession, dated 29 A.D., I purchased some years ago and the coin is very small and can be lost very easily. So by 2013 standards she put in $1.80 which is a very small amount.

Luke 21:3 (KJB)
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

Then once she cast in the money, Jesus then calls over to His disciples and points the woman’s gift out to them. Jesus said that she had put in more money than all of those who donated before her. I am sure the disciples were probably confused at this time because the widow was probably dressed in old clothes and didn’t look like she could even afford to put anything into the treasury. Yet, Jesus had claimed that she put in more than all the others.

Luke 21:4 (KJB)
For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

All the others who gave something were giving out of their abundance and that means after they gave, they still had money left over. The widow had given everything that she could, in fact, it was the money she had for her living which was for food and necessities. Jesus sees it this way. It is not the size of the gift which is important but the percentage given with the right attitude. Let’s say a wealthy man has $10 million dollars and gives $100,000. He has given 1% of his wealth which means he has 99% left over for himself. A poor man who has $1,000 in the bank gives $100. He has given 10% of his wealth and has 90% left over. So even though the millionaire gave $100,000, he still gave less in percentage than the poor man who gave 10%. Giving is a matter of the heart. (2 Cor 9:6 KJV) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. I am sure that the widow did not want for anything all the rest of the days of her life.

Luke 21:5 (KJB)
And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

Jesus now departs out of the temple after His latest confrontation with the religious leaders. As they were leaving the temple area, the disciples had come to Jesus to show Him the buildings of the temple. Jesus had seen them but this conversation began as the disciples seemed to be reveling in the temple edifice.  The word “goodly” in our verse comes from the Old English word “godlic” which carries with it the meaning of “handsome, well-favored, or admirable.” They were basically adoring the beautiful stones which adorned the temple making it look like it was an impregnable fortress. According to the above verse, the disciples were looking at the buildings in a manner of exclamation. It was like they were seeing these stones for the first time and were extolling the beauty of them. I understand what their excitement was about. I personally have stood in the entrance to the Empire State Building in New York City and you walk through a big lobby and that lobby is all made of fine marble and it is a beautiful area. The disciples were lauding the temple edifice as a very beautiful area.