“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Matthew 10:29
This familiar verse has a familiar meaning. Jesus taught that because God cares for sparrows, then certainly He will care for you. Specifically, the verse appears to teach us that a sparrow does not die (fall to the ground) without God’s knowledge.
Only recently did I let that verse rattle around in my mind for a while. Frankly, something bothered me about it. The nub of the problem for me is that while it is somewhat comforting to know that God knows about the death of a sparrow, it is a little curious to think that He only takes notice when they fall to the ground. What about their lives?
Let’s look closely at the words Jesus used. The New Testament was written in Greek. While Jesus probably spoke and understood Greek, as well as Hebrew and probably Latin, the language of every day life in the first century was Aramaic. Jesus almost certainly spoke Aramaic when He said the words of the verse above.
The Greek word for “fall” literally means to fall, and can imply a death, as in fall to the ground. The underlying Aramaic word, however, might be better translated here as “to light” as in “to light upon the ground.” The meaning then would be that God notices not just the death of a sparrow, but its everyday life. He watches as it lights upon the ground to eat or gathers twigs for its nest. I think God is interested in those kinds of activities too.
Jesus emphatically and repeatedly tried to impress on us God’s interest in all aspects of our lives. This interest is not an overbearing vigilance, but a gracious offer to be involved in your life, throughout the day, every day. In His infinite wisdom, joy, and love God can watch a sparrow go about its daily task and take delight in that feathery blessing. Even more importantly, and this is Jesus’ point, He watches you and gently guides, blesses, and takes delight in your life.
The filaments of God’s grace work deeply into every moment of the day, so that every moment is divine. God lovingly watches and cares for you. You are not overlooked, forgotten, or neglected. Your life is important to Him. “Your smiles, your frowns, your ups, your downs” are all familiar to Him. You have a joyous, loving, heavenly Father who enjoys you, loves to be a part of your life, and can bless each moment.
So don’t leave Him out of this moment or the next. Work and pray to become more deeply familiar with Him. Invite Him into each moment. He is there already!
Dr. Terry Ellis