“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.“ Luke 12.4-7
It’s always comforting to know that my life is worth more than a couple of sparrows. Jesus could have compared my life to a camel, a donkey or a stallion, but instead he uses sparrows. I don’t know why this brings me comfort but it does.
Jesus talks a lot about being “afraid” in this passage. First he says, “do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” Was he predicting his death or the physical death we all will face? Was he referring to the Romans, or Jews or enemies? In contrast, Jesus essentially says if you want to fear someone I will tell you whom to fear — God himself! He doesn’t refer to God by name but who else has the “authority to throw you into hell.” Jesus says, “Fear him.”
But then we find a turn of compassion. Perhaps the disciples faces reflected this fear and so he reassures them, “You are valuable…you, like sparrows are not forgotten by God….he even knows the very numbers of the hairs on your head,” (my paraphrase).
So in one sense, Jesus says, “Fear God,” then he says, “Don’t be afraid.” Perhaps the first fear reference could be interpreted “to be in awe.” Being in “awe” is different than fear. It implies “respect” and suggests “honor or tribute.” Those who know and love the Lord need not fear any human or any demon. The one we respect is God, who does have the power to cast a soul to hell, (eternal separation from the Father) but also to attribute great value to a life — way more than many sparrows.
Perhaps your self-worth is in the dumps. Maybe you are confronting insecurities, struggles or doubts. Cease the worry immediately. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you deeply. Turn to him, find solace in his arms and encouragement in his care. For the very “number of the hairs on your head are numbered” and you are with much more than “many sparrows.”
“O Lord God, thank you for comparing me to a beautiful sparrow, a bird in flight, free to sore and to reflect your glory. Thank you that I’m not compared to a rat, a pig or a snake. That would be discouraging! Thank you for loving me and for allowing me to experienced your love on a daily basis. Help me when I doubt myself to put my faith in you. I am in awe of your power and grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen