Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father: but the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven.
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.Matthew 10:29-33 ASV
The proof that God does actually watch over the tiniest citizens in his universe is seen in the fact that the sparrows one sees now are the descendants of sparrows which have lived upon earth for uncounted thousands of years.
The area of need explored by these words is not incidental but basic. It is a question of food, clothing, and shelter.
Jesus’ argument is that God who made man and gave him life will also provide him with the means to sustain it, reinforcing his argument by the fact that God does this very thing for the lower creation.
Surely, God could not be charged with watching out for sparrows and neglecting his children!
The weight of our Lord’s argument here is overwhelming when it is recalled that of all God’s creatures, from insects to the great animals of the forest, man alone is constantly anxious about his survival on the planet.
What a glimpse this gives of the ruin and wretchedness that have resulted from man’s sin and rebellion against his Maker.
Anxiety, that sure corollary of sin committed, has invaded man’s every thought, destroyed his serenity, and sent him scurrying in all directions; and, most significantly, anxiety only makes things worse!
Some of the ancients made deductions from this passage which appear quite astonishing to Christians today.
For example, Clement of Alexandria came up with this:
It is therefore impious to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness. But the embellishment of smoothing (I am warned by the Word), if it is to attract men is the act of an effeminate person, … if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer; and both must be driven as far as possible from our society. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” says the Lord; and those on the chin too are numbered, and those on the whole body.
There must, therefore, be no plucking out, contrary to God’s appointment, which has counted them in according to his will.
This view still prevails among some religious groups; but their error, if it is an error, is due to pressing more than was intended, certainly more than was said, into an utterance of our Lord which is equally revered by all believers.
The notable promise, made here for the first time by Christ, is that he will confess those who confess him.
However, there is the strongest indication that something much more immediate is meant.
True, Jesus did not say WHEN he would confess those who confess him; but he gave an example of it the very first time a man confessed him.
THAT is in the case of the apostle Peter (Matthew 16:17,18) whom Jesus confessed then and there. From this it would appear that when any person confesses Christ and is buried with him in baptism (the two actions being considered together in such passages as Ephesians 5:26 (Goodspeed’s translation)
Christ confesses those who have been born again in the presence of God and the angels.
Inscriptions in the book of life do not wait upon the judgment, nor even upon the death or proved fidelity of the persons thus honored; but their names are written there while they still live and work on earth (Philippians 4:3).
Confession of faith in Jesus Christ as God’s only begotten Son is a basic requirement of the Christian religion (Romans 10:10).
Paul called it “the good confession” twice in a single utterance (1 Timothy 6:12,13); and the following reasons may be cited for calling it the “good” confession:
- Jesus made it under oath and was condemned to death for doing so (John 19:7; Mark 14:62);
- God made it from heaven on three different occasions (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 12:2:8);
- All people must make it eventually (Philippians 2:11);
- It is “unto salvation” (Romans 10:10), being made thereby a part of the plan of salvation;
- Christ will confess those who make it (Matthew 10:32);
- It has been made by the saints of all ages.
- It constitutes, actually a concise summary of all Christian doctrine, namely, that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God!
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
People may deny Christ by their works as well as by their words (Titus 1:16).
Note how frequently Jesus refers to “MY Father.” Disciples were taught to pray “OUR” Father; but throughout the gospel narratives, Jesus is continually represented as saying “MY” Father, indicating the unique relationship between Christ and Almighty God.
In view of this, the common, profane exclamation, “My God,” is a double sin, being idle and profane in the first place, and, secondly, claiming a relationship to God which none of the apostles ever used in addressing deity, and which was constantly used by Christ as an affirmation of his divinity.
Providential care on the part of God for his church is always available.
The smallness of the church or its relative insignificance in the community is not a determining factor in God’s concern for its peace and welfare.
Two or three faithful disciples are enough to claim the Father’s blessing.
There is, however, one supremely overriding condition: that they be truly gathered together in the name of Christ.
This means, by his commandment, by the authority of his will and teaching, in obedience to his specific commandments. and as his word directs.
All gatherings are not covered, but only those where the full purpose is undertaken, as Jesus said, “IN MY NAME.”
It is, to be sure, a mystery how Christ can be present everywhere, and this mystery is set forth in Revelation 1:12,13, in which the Son of God is seen among the seven golden candlesticks (his churches, or congregations).
Christ’s presence is not restricted to some vague “up there,” but he is in his body, the church.