So here’s my question: If you were Jesus, and you wanted to convey the idea in a way that no one could possibly miss,
That you loved someone…
That you cared about someone more than they could ever even begin to imagine…
That you would be there for that person No. Matter. What…
That in their loneliest moments, when they felt totally abandoned and isolated and detached from everyone, that you were still there…
That your love and care and kindness towards that person would never change…
That you feel their isolation more than they know…
And that you will be loyal to that person, never to abandon them, never to turn away from them…
But that you are there and will be there now and forever…
If you were Jesus, how would you convey that? What words would you use? What picture would you draw?
In this PODCAST, you will find out. And in finding out, you may never view Jesus in the same way again.
Let’s begin by reading Matthew 10:29-31
29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Now, first off, my approach to the Bible is not a chronology of events that happened to people, but rather a record of people to whom events happened. In other words, the Bible is a book about people more than it is about events, because God cares very, very much about people.
Also, I do not approach the Bible as a book of theological propositions, like so many others do. Instead of merely looking at the Bible systematically as a listing of “what does it say about God?”; “what does Scripture say about Jesus?”; “what does it say about salvation?”… etc.
That is a uniquely Western way of approaching scripture.
On the other hand, I approach the Bible from a narrative point of view. Or, rather a series of pictures which open up a whole new world of understanding of God, us, heaven and earth. Now, don’t get me wrong, within these pictures, there are propositions (i.e., “God is love). But even in those cases, the authors draw textual pictures of what that love and other propositions look like.
And Jesus does just this in Matthew 10:29-31.
But, it begs this question: Who, in this narrative of sparrows and hairs, is the sparrow?
You might be surprised.
Just before Jesus told the story about the sparrows, He warned His apostles, who were about to embark on their first missionary journey, that they were about to encounter great amounts of rejection. Yet, no matter how alone they might feel, they would never be alone. Even when they might feel that they are abandoned, God would never ever abandon them.
In other words, Jesus was telling them (and us), “I will take care of you.”
Jesus compared His apostles to sparrows in His metaphor, in a similar fashion as He did in Matthew 6:26-34
26 Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?…
31 Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?”…
34 Don’t worry about tomorrow.
To the masses, Jesus told them that God would take care of them.
In Matthew 10, He was addressing the group of men whom He was intimately connected with – His apostles. And instead of using a generic metaphor about birds in general, He spoke specifically about a pair of sparrows.
Yet, when He spoke of a sparrow falling to the ground and the Father knowing all about it, He speaks of ONE single sparrow.
Why the specific and purposeful change from two to one?
Why? So that we can know God better.
Of all the 450 species of birds fluttering around Israel, Jesus probably chose the sparrow because it came to be the symbol of love, dedication, devotion, faithfulness and single-focused commitment; due to the fact that sparrows mate for life. They remain truly devoted to their mates, always returning home to their nest and their “spouse”.
Therefore, no one would ever buy just one sparrow.
So, whether it’s in the Psalms, or in the Gospel of Matthew, when depicting someone feeling all alone and abandoned, the metaphor of a sparrow all alone is the perfect illustration.
Jesus, being the world’s Master Communicator, did this on purpose. In depicting a single sparrow falling to the ground, He drew a picture of the epitome of isolation and abandonment.
And He reassured His disciples that God is there, even for that fallen sparrow.
The sparrow – and we – are never alone.
He will NEVER abandon us to face our pain alone.
Then Jesus follows His metaphor with life application: “So don’t be afraid.”
So, who is the sparrow in Jesus’ story?
The apostles? The masses of people on the hillside from Matthew 6? You and me?
The answer is all of the above, and even Jesus, Himself.
The answer is everyone who has ever been all alone, yet never outside of the Father’s loving care.