His Eye is on the Sparrow (Matthew 10:28-31)
When I was a kid, our neighbors had a parakeet, and I wanted one, too. So for my birthday one year, Nannie got me a parakeet. I kept its cage in my room, and one morning before school, I had the bird’s cage open for some reason or other. And my little parakeet flew out of the cage and started darting to and fro around my room. I didn’t have time to catch the little thing and put it back in its cage, so I just shut my bedroom door and went to school.
Papaw picked us three kids and Mom up from school (she worked there) that afternoon. Papaw dropped us off at the house, and we went in, and I opened up my bedroom door. There lay my little parakeet dead—it had hit something in my room and broken its neck. I let out a blood-curling scream. Papaw hadn’t come in the house, but he came running; he literally thought I had just found a dead body in the house. Forty years or so later, my mother still loves to laugh at me and my bird.
You might have had a pet bird at some point in your life. Or maybe you enjoy bird watching and can name several different types of birds. Or you might have a bird feeder so you can watch the birds come and eat. Or maybe you have a bird bath and enjoy seeing birds come and cool themselves on hot Texas days.
As much as you might enjoy watching birds, you’ve probably never stopped to think much about their lives. Have you ever stopped to think about when that bird at your feeder had its last meal? Do you wonder if the bird you’re watching fly through the sky is going to be eaten by the neighborhood cat that afternoon? Do you ever wonder how many kids that bird has had or where it’s going to sleep tonight or if it’ll be safe if a hurricane strikes? God knows the answer to all those questions, and God cares about the answer to all those questions. And God cares more for you!
The disciples needed to know that God cared more for them than for some measly bird. Jesus had just told the disciples that they would be persecuted: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt 10:22). The disciples were facing persecution and even death for Jesus’s name; therefore, they needed to be assured of God’s love and concern. Jesus assured them of God’s love and concern when he told his disciples: “God loves you; therefore, you must not worry.”
You aren’t suffering for your faith, but I know you’re suffering. There is some struggle that’s causing you stress and anxiety—that is simply the nature of living in a fallen world. And I’m confident there are times you’re tempted to fall into worry and despair. Therefore, we wish to hear Jesus’s message this morning and learn: “God loves you; therefore, you must not worry.”
Scripture (Matthew 10:28-31)
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”
Those who tormented the disciples could very well end their physical lives (we know from church history that 11 of the 12 disciples died violent deaths for their faith). But those men could never harm the soul.
“Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
“Fear” was a common Jewish way of speaking about the respect God deserves. Jesus’s point here is that God has control of a person even after he has died.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?”
The sparrow was a staple of a poor person’s diet in Ancient Palestine, for they were the cheapest of all birds. The Greek word for “penny” refers to a coin the equivalent of about 1/16th of a denarius (the average daily wage); therefore, you didn’t even need to work a full hour to buy two sparrows.
“And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”
Not even a bird as worthless as a sparrow can fall to the ground unless God knows about it.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Think about the implication of this verse: God loves you more than your own mother. How many times did your mother ever number the hairs on your head? Jesus didn’t mean that God in his perfect wisdom simply knows how many hairs are on your head; he means that God cares how many hairs are on your head.
“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Jesus is using the argument that if God cares about little birds that cost almost nothing, he cares so much more for the creation made in his own image and likeness.
Because the disciples were worth more than many sparrows, they need not fear. Think about that for a moment! They were going to be tortured and end up dying for their faith, but they had no reason to fear. How could that ever be? Because God had prepared a better home for them after their lives here were over.
“God loves you; therefore, you must not worry.” If the disciples had no reason to worry in the face of a horrifyingly painful death, you have no reason to worry in spite of your struggles. What struggle do you face this morning? What worry or fear or temptation or sin or grief or anxiety seeks to overwhelm your heart?
I want you to focus on that struggle this morning, and I want you to learn that “God loves you; therefore, you must not worry.” How can God’s love keep you from worry?
First, you need to Know God’s love. God loves you so much that he sent his only Son into this world to die for your sins: “God so loved [you], that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
Know beyond any doubt that God sent Jesus from heaven to die on Golgotha’s tree so you could have the forgiveness of your sins. I don’t know how you’re suffering this morning, but I do know that because Jesus died for you and was raised again, your suffering will one day be over. One day, because God loves you, you will stand in the Paradise of God without a single worry. You will see God face to face. God will take his hand and wipe away every tear from your eye and every heartache from your soul.
Know that God loves you, sent his Son to die for you, and has a better home prepared for you.
Second, you need to Kneel before your heavenly Father in prayer. Cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7). You can take whatever worry you have before the Father, and he will hear you, and he will answer you according to his will.
When faced with worry, God’s people have knelt in prayer. Hannah was anxious that she could not have children, and she prayed; after Hannah weaned Samuel and left him at the tabernacle, she exclaimed, “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him” (1 Sam 1:27). When Elijah had his contest on Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal, he cried out, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back” (1 Ki 18:37); God then sent fire to consume Elijah’s sacrifice. Ezra was nervous about being overtaken on the road as he and those with him went up to Jerusalem from Babylon; he recorded: “So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty” (Ezra 8:23). What anxiety do you need to take to God for God to hear and to answer?
Do you need us to pray with you and for your this morning?