Persons Are Important

KEY VERSE: “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” —Matthew 10:31

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 10:28-31; Mark 2:23-28; 3:1-6

NOTHING happens to the child of God without the Heavenly Father’s awareness and permission. This often includes what might appear to be undue suffering or an untimely death. To the casual Christian this no doubt presents an enigma, since it would seem that one who is faithfully doing God’s will would be saved from such painful circumstances. But Jesus, in this lesson of which our key verse is a part, had previously said: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. … Beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues, and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake. … And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”—Matt. 10:16-22

Plainly, our Lord was warning his disciples that those who would bear the message of truth could well expect suffering and even death at the hands of an unbelieving world. His words carry the strong implication that being shielded from such experiences by the providences of God does not constitute salvation. But, on the contrary, it is through the enduring of them faithfully unto the end that we are delivered.

Elaborating on this thought the apostle continues: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul [being], but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [gehenna].” (vs. 28) Here our Lord points out to his followers the great cause they had for courage and bravery under the most trying circumstances. They were to expect to have evil spoken against them falsely for the sake of the good tidings of which they were ministers, knowing that some would even consider that putting them to death would be doing God a service. Jesus taught that the consolation and reward for the Gospel’s ministry was to be received, not in the present life, but in the life to come.

Under present conditions men are able to kill our bodies, but nothing they can do will affect our future being, which God has promised shall be revived or restored by his great power in the resurrection. God alone has power to utterly destroy our being; he alone, therefore, should be feared, and the opposition of men even unto death is not to be feared, if thereby we gain divine approval.

The apostle’s injunction then is, fear not them who can terminate the present dying life in these poor, imperfect, dying bodies; care little for it in comparison with our promised future existence which God has provided, and which, if secured, will be our portion forever! Fear not the threats, disdain, and acts of men whose power can extend no further than the present existence, who can harm and kill these bodies—but can do no more. Rather, have respect and deference to God, with whom are the issues of life everlasting—fear him who is able to destroy in gehenna, the second death, both the present dying existence and all hope of future life.

In his desire to assure us that the well-being of our destiny is no small thing with God, Jesus went on to say that nothing happens without the Heavenly Father’s notice. As even the sparrow which falls to the ground, how much more the things pertaining to his children, the very hairs of their heads being numbered. This knowledge that God’s great power, in a very intimate and personal way, is protecting us in the ultimate sense, should cause us to face the circumstances of this life without fear. We only need fear lest our faith should falter, and our confidence in God be shaken.

The knowledge of his Heavenly Father’s closeness was a great comfort to Jesus throughout his earthly life, and no doubt was even more vivid as he was dying upon the cross. As the disdain of his enemies was poured out upon him, his thoughts on that occasion were reflected centuries before in the twenty-second psalm. “Be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, hast thee to help me. … For he [God] hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither bath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.”—vss. 11,19,24

As with Jesus, so also with us: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1), for are we not of more value than many sparrows?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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