Sunday Interlude: Sparrows
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father” (Matthew 10:29). If you check your Bible dictionary, you’ll discover that sparrows were among the humblest birds in Bible times. They were considered food for the poor, and because they were so cheap, the poor could offer them in sacrifice to the Lord if they couldn’t afford a lamb or a goat or a bull. You could buy two sparrows for a penny. That’s pretty cheap by any standard. A buck would buy you a whole bag full of sparrows. You could feed your family sparrow casserole for a dime.
A new insight came to me as I studied this verse. I had
always thought that Jesus was saying that God watches the sparrows when
they fall. But this verse is saying much more than that. Not only does God see the sparrow when it falls, the sparrow cannot and will not fall apart from the Father’s will.
The mention of the word “Father” makes it very tender and very
personal. It’s not as if sparrows fall at random from the trees and God
takes note when it happens. The sparrow falls because God willed it to
fall, and if he didn’t, the sparrow would never fall to the ground.
This is a high view of God’s involvement in the tiny and seemingly
insignificant details of the universe.
Note two implications of this truth:
1) The sparrows do fall. Even the little sparrows fall to the ground eventually. Sooner or later troubles come to all of God’s children. We get sick, we lose our jobs, we have family problems, we get cancer, and we eventually. It is the same for us as for everyone else. Though we know the Lord, we are not exempt from the troubles of this world.
2) The sparrows fall according to the Father’s will. All things take place according to the counsel and decree of Almighty God. There is a very real sense in which everything in the universe must somehow fit into God’s ultimate plan. Even the falling of the sparrow is part of God’s providential oversight of the universe. This applies to our pain, our suffering, our loss, and it applies to the heartache of watching our loved ones suffer.
And since we are worth more than “many sparrows” to God (v. 31), if he cares for them, how much more will he care for us. Why should we shake? Why should we fear? Let the world shake and fear. It is for us to be calm when others are giving way to fear.
As the song says, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”
Thank you, Gracious Lord, for watching over the tiny sparrows. When I am afraid, I will trust in you. I commit to you the tiniest details of my life, even the ones that make no sense to me. Amen.