MATTHEW 10: 26-33
This word of Jesus is a collection of various sayings. The gospel writers use their sources in different ways. Very often, the sources of the present gospel material consisted of various saying of Jesus detached from the original situation in which they were spoken.
Jesus has spent much time – some, it seems, wasted – in the private teaching of the apostles. The teaching (verses 26-27) which He has given them in private is intended to be made public. This teaching is not something for a spiritually select few! Not only is the teaching to be made public – it is to be proclaimed from the rooftops. The saying does not imply Jesus taught a secret doctrine but that the number who hear His teaching from His own lips in much smaller than the number who will hear it from His disciples.
If Jesus was persecuted and killed for His teaching, the same fate awaits the disciples. Why was Jesus killed for His teaching? Jesus did not meddle in politics, yet He was put to death at the instigation of religious politicians (Sanhedrin) and delivered to the civil politician Pilate.
Jesus was a threat to this kind of politician because, when a man or woman committed oneself to Jesus’ way of life, that person was freed from intimidation and threats by rulers. It removed the believer from the control politicians of that sort use to manipulate the lives of others.
So, Jesus was a threat and had to be removed. The apostles too proved to be threats, for tradition tells us that 11 of the 12 died violent deaths in witness to Jesus’ words. Hence, the warning not to fear (verse 28) those who only destroy the life of the body. They can’t kill one’s spirit. God always has the final word.
Sparrows were one of the cheapest articles sold in the Jewish market, yet God knows even when a small bird dies and if He cares about the least of His creation (verse 29), how much more will He be concerned about us! Hence, in saying that God has counted all our hairs (verse 30), Jesus is saying that God cares for each of our lives in a degree beyond words. It is a care – so to speak – that is even concerned with the seemingly meaningless counting of the hairs of the head.
The awareness of such care removes fear (verse 31) of those who threaten the believer with physical torture and death. The basis of confessing Jesus in word and deed is founded on assurance of His care through thick and thin. The reward of confessing Jesus (verses 32-33) is that He will accept us according to our fidelity and reject us according to infidelity.
We are called to make daily critical choices in the shaping of our lives. To make critical choices well, it is imperative to reflect upon the word of God – especially the Gospel – in daily prayer and worship.
- Fr. John Krenzke