Phil Cox

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Two sparrows for a penny

30th March 2013

For the last two weeks, we've seen how Matthew 10 speaks very soberly about the necessity of evangelism, and about the inevitability that some of us will be persecuted when we do it. This realistic, honest warning comes to its clearest expression in verse 28:

Matthew 10:28
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

No matter how many sermons we preach about being inclusive and non-judgmental, the fact remains that there is a spiritual war, and there are only two sides. Either we serve God or we work against God. There are no neutrals. Jesus said:

Matthew 12:30
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

And Jesus warns us that God is to be feared. On the day of judgment, we don't want to be found on the wrong side:

Hebrews 10:31
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We must never forget that God is the only one "who can destroy both soul and body in hell". The worst that men can do to us is to kill us, but they can't kill our souls. And, for that reason, we needn't fear them. Whatever they do to us, we who love God will live with Him for all eternity.

Jesus continues by saying:

Matthew 10:29-31
"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. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So donít be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Can we accept that Jesus is telling us very clearly that nothing happens outside the will of God?

Most, if not all, Christians struggle with this. When tragedy strikes, it can be hard to believe that it's in God's will. And there's a lot of tragedy around. Tragedy strikes every family. People get ill and die. People lose their love for each other. People have accidents and are maimed. People die defending their country. Homes are broken into and robbed. People lose their employment. Are all these things in God's will? Jesus says yes, they are.

The alternative to believing that nothing happens apart from the will of your Father is, of course, believing that some things do happen apart from the will of your Father. I find that idea far more alarming. If God in not really in control, what hope is there? But don't worry; God is Lord of All.

If a sparrow falls from the sky, it falls because God decided that it should. And if you or I must endure bereavement, unemployment, poverty or persecution, then we must accept that God has willed it. And we can receive it from His hand:

Job 2:20-21
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my motherís womb, and naked I shall depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."

(of course, while accepting the situation as it is, we can continue to pray for things to improve. There is a huge difference between accepting the present and giving up on the future.)

Why must we suffer so? We very seldom find out. But we can trust Him that He has a good reason. We know that even the very hairs of your head are all numbered". God cares intimately about us. God will be with us through our suffering, and God will grant us eternal life.

Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Jesus loves all His people. Many will be rejected. He was rejected. Many must suffer. He suffered. Many will die. He died. But He will never forget you, and will bring you home at last. So donít be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

And, after death if not before, justice will be done.