“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27″Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32″Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17″We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18″Bring them here to me,” he said. 19And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
On August 8, 2008, the eyes of the world turned toward Beijing. People waited with baited breath to see what the Chinese would do for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. The world was not disappointed. There were some 15,000 performers choreographed in a visually stunning show by director Zhang Yimou. In addition to the thousands of dancers, martial artists, acrobats and drummers used in the opening ceremony, there were 91,000 plus spectators and scores of athletes from around the globe. All of these people gathered together in the “Bird’s Nest” Stadium to share one spectacular moment.
So many people and such amazing sights and sounds – such creativity and wonderful feats of engineering! I loved the ceremonies and it took my breath away to see what people can do. Sitting on my couch, watching the ceremonies on television, I could not stop thinking about this passage in Luke:
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)
In this passage, Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He says not one of the sparrows is forgotten by God – not a single sparrow out of five. I smile to think that the Beijing stadium is most commonly known as the “Bird’s Nest;” the thousands of people gathered in that stadium, and indeed all of us, then, are the sparrows, not forgotten by God. Yet even this analogy is not strong enough to describe God’s love for us. In the next sentences, Christ continues to explain that we are worth more to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
If God, the Creator, knows and remembers each of the sparrows He has created, how much more does He know each person He has breathed life into? The Lord did not make sparrows in His image and yet He cares for them, making sure they have food and a place to rest. Over one hundred thousand people in the stadium that night and not a one unaccounted for by God. God knows each of them since He has created them, molded them in His image and has kept their going out and coming in since they day they were made.
Jesus tells His disciples that the very hairs of their heads are all numbered. Having crazy, curly hair, I know for a fact that I have many, many hairs on my head and not all of them do what I want them to do either! God, however, has numbered each one; He knows us down to the very fiber, the very make-up of our being. He knows our names, our smiles, the color of our eyes, the sound of our laughter. He knows our hopes, our dreams, our fears, and our sorrows. He knows our good deeds, as well as the things we would rather keep to ourselves.
So, what are we to do with the knowledge that God knows us better than we know ourselves? Some would think of God as a scary big brother-type character or a bully, keeping tally of everything we say and do, waiting for us to trip up or make a mistake. Yes, we should fear God, but not in the modern sense of the word. We should fear Him by showing Him respect and by honoring Him. We should not, on the other hand, fear Him as someone who is out to get us or someone who wishes to see us fail.
Instead, Jesus, tells us not to fear because we are precious to God, made in His image to carry out His work. We are not to be afraid of the fact that God knows so much, but rather to rest, knowing that He has our best interests at heart. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Thousands gathered together in one place that night at the stadium. I cannot help but think of the thousands who gathered to hear Jesus speak when He first spoke to the people about sparrows. Jesus continues to expound upon the Father’s love throughout the twelfth chapter of Luke, urging His attentive audience to shed their worries about material things and to focus instead on the kingdom, taking heart in the knowledge that God will provide.
It is striking, however, that even with these words Jesus knows how much our material needs must be met. In Matthew 14, the evangelist describes another gathering of thousands. Once again, the crowd hangs onto Jesus’ every word – so much so, in fact, that they neglect their hunger. Jesus’ words sustain them spiritually, but He knows they have physical hunger as well. It is with this comprehension of physical needs that Christ feeds more than 5,000 people, demonstrating once more how truly God understands our requirements, wishes and desires.
Next time you are out walking and see a sparrow, remember how God takes care of these little birds. Moreover, remember that God cares for and loves you so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. Rest in the knowledge that the God of Creation knows you and longs to care for you throughout the journey that is life.
© 2008. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.