Matthew 10 is an ordination sermon; here Jesus commissions the Apostles for ministry, warns them about the perils they would encounter and assures them that he would always be with them. Jesus would soon ascend after his resurrection and the time was drawing near when the Apostles would have to proclaim the gospel to all the ends of the world without Him. Seeing the task and the perils ahead of them, Jesus comforts them by reminding them that God remains in control even of the minutest of things in the universe.
“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows” Matthew 10: 28-31 (HCSB)
Of all the persecutions they were going to suffer Jesus tells them that they will also be killed. The question majority of us would ask here is, “If God is all powerful, if Jesus really cares for these people why would he not exempt them the pains of persecution and death?” It becomes more shocking when we hear Jesus telling them not to fear those who kill the body. We expected to hear Him say, “Do not fear I will come and rescue you from those who seek your life” instead, he assures them that though men can kill the body none is able to kill the soul.
Let me reconstruct what Jesus is telling his disciples in simple language. ‘I’m sending you guys out to preach, be wise because you will be like sheep in the midst of wolves, you will be hated by all people, and you will be killed for proclaiming the gospel but I want you to know that none of you will be harmed or killed without your heavenly father’s consent. The assurance Jesus gave them was not that they would not be persecuted and killed, but that no harm of any kind will befall them without their Father’s knowledge, approval and care.
Think of the Sparrows
To drive his point home Jesus uses the sparrows. Sparrows are small birds and at this time they were very cheap. As we can see from the text a sparrow was so cheap that it could not be sold alone; two were sold for as little as a penny. By using the sparrow, Jesus is picking the most trivial thing known to his disciples and saying even this God controls. Just think of how many ways a sparrow can die, yet not even one sparrow can fall to the ground without the consent of God. Here Jesus is speaking of a practical thing, no symbolism is intended; before any sparrow can die, God must approve.
Most of us find no problem believing that God is in control of the big things but have difficulties believing that even the small things are under his control. However, it will be good to consider that the only way to be in control of the big things is by being in control of the small things. Yet still, what may be trivial in our own eyes is not trivial in God’s eyes. Charles Spurgeon had no doubt that even dust particles were under God’s control, he says:
“I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”
Is our God equal to such a task?
A certain man once found it hard to believe how God was capable of hearing the prayers of so many people when they pray at once. “If that is possible” he said, “then God must have a very wide bandwidth!” And so some people find it hard to believe that God is in absolute control simply because they have a very small estimation of God. Many times we think that He is like us, we forget that we are finite creatures and God is the infinite creator. Surely, he who has the power to create the universe and to maintain it moment by moment is well able to control even the dust particles. Our God is not a small God!
If we were totally able to comprehend our God how then could he be God? How can that which is finite comprehend that which is infinite? We can only say like David, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” When we consider the greatness of God the result is always adoration not comprehension. Paul knew that God did not primarily ‘exist’ to be understood but to be adored:
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?” Romans 11:33-34 (NLT)
When we get to the end of our minds and God becomes incomprehensible let us at that moment remember that incomprehensibility is one of His attributes. Let’s remind ourselves that we still know too little about God with our puny minds. At that moment let us not become skeptical but remember that the just are supposed to live by faith. This incomprehensibility of God is meant to awaken our hearts with awe, to fill our mouths with His praises and to take as to our knees.
But God does not remember the Sparrows only when they come to die. He has been their caring father from the first day He put them in the world to the last. If God does not leave the sparrows to luck and chance but attends to them every moment giving them their daily food how then can He give over His children to blind fate?
The care of God extends even to the most trivial thing; he feeds the sparrows and clothes the grass. If God cares for such negligible things it would be ridiculous for the Apostles to think that God would forget them. Here, Jesus assures the Apostles of a moment by moment presence of God in their lives. His eye would be on them all the time because he never slumbers. No persecution would come to their lives without having been given consent by their caring and loving Father.
Why is this Important?
How important is it to know and believe that the things that come to our lives are ordained by God? For the Christian; chance, luck and accidents do not exist. Nothing enters our lives but that which comes from the hand of God. How much peace and rest believing this brings us! We live confidently without fear of tomorrow and the evil that is in the present world. Being a Christian does not guarantee that bad things will not happen to us, but it guarantees us that even the bad things that happen to us are measured and apportioned to us by our loving Father for his glory and for our joy.
When Stephen, the first martyr, was murdered, Jesus was present, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Jesus had not abandoned him; he attended his stoning. Before his ascension, Jesus told Peter that preaching the gospel would ultimately lead him to death but Peter having the confidence that nothing would harm him outside his Father’s will preached boldly till the day he died.
Dear Christian your loving Father is in control- let that still your anxious heart. God’s care is so intimate to the extent that even the hairs of our heads are numbered. A.W Pink wrote, “Nothing is more strengthening to faith, stabilizing to the mind, and tranquilizing to the heart of a Christian, than for him to be enabled to discern his Father’s hand guiding, shaping, and controlling everything which enters his life; and not only so, but that He is also governing this world, and all people and events in it.
Pastor Dennis will be uploading another article coming Wednesday. Stay tuned. Comment and share.
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