Matthew 10:28-31 “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. 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 don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
At first, these words might sound scary. If you are hearing Jesus correctly, you would be right to conclude that he is telling us there is such a place as hell, and that God sends people there, body and soul, to be punished. That’s an unpopular truth today. Some try to associate it with an Old Testament God of vengefulness. But no one in the Bible talks about hell more than Jesus does. No other prophet or apostle even comes close. Almost everything we know about the place comes straight from Jesus’ lips.
We would be wrong to conclude that Jesus is trying to scare us here. In the context, God is not our enemy but our friend. The enemy is the world of people who are trying to silence the gospel. Jesus wants us to remember that the real power is on our side. What’s the most that other people can do to you–kill you? And send you to heaven? They can’t touch your soul. No, the real power is on our side with the God whose message we are trying to share.
He intends to protect us. “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 don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Jesus’ pictures offer two reasons we can take God’s promised protection to heart. First, our Father in heaven is intimately aware of everything that happens on earth. I once found a dead bird in our shrubs while I was trimming them. Apparently it had flown into one of our windows and broken its neck. It took me a few days to discover it on my own property. Jesus is telling us here that God, who is running the entire universe while looking after billions of stars and planets, who is running the whole earth while looking after billions of people and animals, was personally aware of this event the moment it happened.
He even has a number for every hair on your head. So don’t be afraid that he has lost track of you, or that he has stopped keeping tabs on the minute details of your life. That includes the heat you or I might take for sharing his word.
Second, our Father in heaven values us dearly. “So don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” No one knew that better than Jesus did. He was standing there as the one his Father was willing to give up to have us. Almost anyone could figure out that we are worth more than a bunch of birds. That God treasures us enough to give up the life of his Son–that Jesus had to come and tell us. If he loves us that much, he certainly intends to protect us. So don’t be afraid to follow where Jesus leads, believe the things he tells us, or say what you need to say.