“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”
~ Matthew 10:29
The verse that now occupies our attention is certainly worthy of our meditation. On first notice, we deem that sparrows are near worthless creatures, (five could be had for a halfpenny according to Luke 12:6), and that God takes notice when even one falls to the ground. From this, we glean that God has knowledge of all His creation, taking notice and interest of the least of His creatures and that He is brought into sympathy with them.
These thoughts are the froth and cream of the verse and not strong meat sufficient to strengthen us for a forty days journey (1 Kings 19:8). There is more here than an incidental omniscience. Here the sovereign power of God is extolled. Let us take a few moments to fix our meditation here and be profited thereby.
In the first place, I wish to consider the context. In this tenth chapter, Christ is preparing His apostles to go out to work. “He gave them power” (Matthew 10:1), and He tells them to “Go… And as ye go, preach… freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:6-8). They are going to do the Lord’s work. He said, “Behold, I send you forth” (Matthew 10:16).
Christ further prepares them by giving them a warning, “But beware of men” (Matthew 10:17). He promises that they will suffer persecution. They will be cast out, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). The path of righteousness is attended with hardship and trials for those who tread its narrow way. Christ tells them plainly that they can expect trials. However, in our text, the Lord is encouraging His apostles and makes an appeal to the sovereign power of God.
We have already seen some reasons why this verse contains more than a casual, or even intimate, knowledge of God of His creation. This is further evidenced by reading verse 31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” There is an obvious connection between the two verses. Christ intended the truth proclaimed in verse 29 to allay the fears of the apostles. He said, “Fear ye not therefore.” Just knowing that God had knowledge of them could not sufficiently relieve the fears of the apostles and embolden them for fervent service in the face of difficulties. I believe that Christ gave the apostles two things here, the first, to make them God-centered instead of self-centered, and the second, to increase their faith.
The first truth is about the sovereignty of God in His creation. Sparrows are essentially worthless to humans, but not so to God. Christ said, “And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” It is not just that God takes notice when the least of His creatures die, but He is active throughout the span of their life. He wills their birth and wills their death. Not one sparrow shall die until the time appointed by God. Not only this, but He sustains their life, “your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matthew 6:26). Furthermore, their life, from beginning to end, fulfills His purpose.
There’s not a sparrow, or a worm, But’s found in His decrees;
He raises monarchs to their throne, And sinks them as He please.
We see God seated high upon His throne, ruling and reigning over the least to the greatest of His creation.
Let the whole race of creatures lie Abased before their God;
Whate’er His sovereign voice has formed, He governs with a nod.
The second truth is about the loving-kindness of the benevolent heavenly Father. Notice in our text that Jesus says, “Your Father.” He speaks of the base sparrows and yet says, “Your Father.” He shows God’s hand in feeding the fowls and yet He says, “Your heavenly Father” (Matthew 6:26).
The sparrow fulfills the design of its maker and is dependent upon Him from first to last, but the sparrow’s relationship is only as creature to creator. Not so with the child of God! Jesus declares that He is “your Father.” If the sparrow is in His hands, how much more is His beloved child? God has determined our beginning and end and He will sustain us all the way.
The apostles could take comfort in these truths, especially while serving Him. No matter how fiery was their trial, they could rest in the power of God and His love for them. Their duty was to proclaim His glory. May we receive grace and strength from God to “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Amen.