Fear, Sparrows and Persecution (by Ben Johnson)

What does a sparrow have to do with persecution? A lot, believe it or not.

Sparrows are only mentioned seven times in Scripture. Three references in the Old Testament and four in the New Testament. The four in the New Testament are from parallel accounts of the same story which is found in Matthew 10 and Luke 12.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear yenot therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:29-31Sparrow,_Eurasian_Tree_Laitche

Often these verses are used in showing how much God cares for us. We are told not to worry because as the old song says, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” But when you read the entire context,  there is a deeper meaning to these verses than just being watched over.

These verses are not just about God taking care of us, but God caring for us in persecution. In verse 16 of chapter 10, Jesus says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves”. He goes on to say in 17, “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues”. Further down in the passage in verse 22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

As Jesus is describing that they will be persecuted, He then tells them not to fear. He tells His disciples not to fear those who can kill the body but to fear God. He tells them that their hairs are numbered and that they are more valuable than many sparrows.

We fear persecution. It cannot but be said that as a missionary to China, it is typical that we hear people describe how we need to be fearful of persecution in China. But once again, the Bible tells us not to fear. We should not fear even though we walk as sheep in the midst of wolves.

We should not fear even when men deliver or threaten to deliver us to authorities. We must always remember that Christ came not do bring peace, but a sword and with that comes persecution. What Jesus says about the sparrows shows us that no matter what may happen to us, God truly cares for us.


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