EarthBasic. Take care. Bless many.
Read |Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12: 4 - 7|
When I read and meditate upon Jesus’ lessons, I try to imagine myself in the context of His time, place and culture. Then, I can consider their meaning and application to my life. Sisters, come with me on such a journey, as I enter into the shoes of Jesus’ listeners in Luke 12: 4 - 7, CSB:
I say to you, my friends, don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will show you the one to fear: fear him who has authority to throw people into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the one to fear! Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
The Hebrew word used for sparrow is tzippor, from a root signifying to “chirp” or “twitter”, and is a generic term meaning "small bird". It is used more than 40 times in Scripture. However, the Greek word used here for sparrow is strouthion which occurs twice in the new testament namely Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12: 4-7.
Jesus' listeners would have viewed this bird as worthless; it being common, inexpensive and used as a sacrifice by the poorest of the poor, including lepers. We are told in Matthew 10:29 that one could purchase two sparrows with the lowest denomination of money (we can think in terms of one penny). Read with Luke 12:6, we ascertain that with double the amount of money, you get a sparrow thrown in for free, i.e. five sparrows for two pennies. How worthless! But wait. Jesus says in Matthew that not one sparrow is killed without God’s consent. Whereas in Luke Jesus says, “not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight”.
“Huh? What? The Heavenly Father keeps track of every single one of those little twits? He knows them and they are of value to Him?" But, before we consider the totality of Jesus’ lesson, let us consider the likely background of Jesus’ listeners.
We can determine from a quick study of the preceding chapters that they were a diverse bunch. Thanks to the faithful witness of Jesus’ appointed seventy-two, people of every town and station had heard the news about Jesus! Amongst them were those craving the entertainment of seeing another work from this "rebellious"character who hung out with sinners and casted out demons. There were those burning to learn more from the man they saw as a great teacher. There were those diseased and desperate for His healing touch. There were those who knew Him intimately as friends. And finally, there were those hardened hearts with political and religious clout, who were trying to trap, discredit and even kill Him.
A Rightly Divided Message
Before introducing the sparrow, Jesus speaks in fearsome tones. The message is don’t be afraid of someone who can just kill your body, but rather fear the one who can send you straight to hell! I imagine Jesus staring straight into the eyes of the scheming Scribes and Pharisees as He said that hellish line. What a nightmarish chill they would have felt as that line judged their wicked motives.
On the other hand, Jesus‘ discerning disciples, with an understanding of the surrounding tension, who themselves were in danger, would not have missed the message directed to them – that even those who could kill their bodies were not to be feared.
The masses, even those just there for entertainment, would have received the beautifully presented message of the sparrow. They would have heard the emphasis of their worth to their Heavenly Father.
Those who were children of God and there for healing or learning would have received the message that really, there is nothing to worry about! If His eye is on the sparrow, then they must know He watches over them.
Can you see that in a few short lines Jesus communicates to every single category of persons present in that crowd: the fearsome power and supremacy of God; the continued hand He has over His creation; the precious value of the individual; and unbridled love that is bestowed to His children. And He still speaks to us today. The God who does not change, gives us the same assurance today: fear not, for I am greater than any enemy you will face. I see and care for you.
As Be-Held Women we believe that true self-care is accomplished in a lifestyle of intimacy with Jesus Christ. We take care by drawing near to God: seeking and living the truth of God’s Word, by the power of His Spirit dwelling within us, confident that in living the truth by Holy Spirit reliance we will be transformed into women who so clearly bear the image of Jesus Christ in spirit, soul and body that we will come to bless many. Dear Be-Held Woman, seeking, living and being transformed by the truth, we offer you this Bible study guide to support you in your endeavors! Apply it to this week's Scripture reading.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is an educator, Christian education youth coordinator, author, singer, workshop and retreat leader, speaker and founder and president of EarthBasic. However, she is first and foremost a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. You can connect with Carolyn on facebook, Instagram and here.