“And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:28-30
Sparrows are a common sight in Jerusalem. Unlike the greater birds which migrate through the land, sparrows reside year round in the city. They feed in noisy flocks – dining on seeds, fruits, and insects. A lone sparrow is unusual, for they are social creatures (Ps. 102:7). These minor birds make their nests in the eaves of houses, buildings, and churches. Sparrows were allowed to nest in the Great Temple (Ps. 84:3).
The sparrow is not a bird that is held in high regard, rather it is used as an example of what is lowly and familiar. Such birds were offered as the poor man’s sacrifice (Lev. 14:1-7). Two were sold for a pittance [a very small, insignificant amount of money], and five for not much more. The Apostle Paul was once called a “babbler” or “seed picker” by the Athenians who were not impressed with his philosophy. This term in the Greek was an insult. It referred to the little sparrow, which ran around picking up seeds here and there. Thus Paul was to them an itinerant dreamer who ran around and shared bits and pieces from the different philosophies he collected.
Sparrows, though messy, have one redeeming quality. They are fearless. This little bird will readily defend its nest and territory. It devours large insects and grubs with hardly a thought. The sparrow will also seize opportunities to steal food from larger birds.
The sparrow, though fearless, is also easy prey. Cats and other large predators regularly stalk and ambush these birds. All that is left when they are done is a few feathers scattered about. Yet Jesus reminds us that the Father knows even when one of these creatures falls to the ground. The Lord encourages all of his disciples with these comforting words: “the very hairs on your head are numbered.”
Jesus commissioned the apostles as well as all believers with these words: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, therefore be as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Perhaps one might also say Jesus’ words like this: “Behold I send you out as sparrows among the cats.”
The Father God loves each one of us. Knowing this, we must not fear persecution, hatred, betrayal, or judgment. Jesus counsels that the cost of following him is your life. All of it. Persecution will be one of your rewards. Prepare yourself. Your message of the “good news” may not always be received, but fear not.
Some upon hearing what you have to say may also deliver you up to councils, governors, or even kings to be judged, but remember your hairs are numbered. Fear not. Be courageous and bold. Know this, He who loves you is well able to deliver you from the mouth of the lion and the snare of the fowler.
A Word from the LORD
I am a God who takes cares of the sparrow. I am a God who will take care of you, for you are of worth far more to me. I will not forget who you are, where you are, or who seeks to judge you. Have I not said that I will bring you before kings and nobles and that you will be witness to me? Fear not, for in that day, I will anoint you with my words. No man will be able to resist what you say, for your words will be my words.
David, my servant, declared, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” You will not have to beg for bread when you walk with me.
My son prayed to me: “Give us our daily bread.” I will provide for you. I will ensure that you have fresh manna to eat every day. I will not forsake you even when you are old. I will be with you. Walk with me. I am El Shaddai, I am the Bread of Life. I am your provider and protector. Fear not!
Thank you, Lord, for your great love towards us, your disciples. Thank you for all creatures, great and small, which you have made. Thank you, Lord, for the sparrow – lowly yet unafraid. May we not forget that neither “tribulation, or distress or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril or sword” shall separate us from your love. May we know that “in all these things, we are more than conquerors” through you who loved us. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
“The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps.27:1)
“For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before you ask him” (Mt. 6:8b).
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7).
Jerusalem, Lest I Forget Thee by Gene Little
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