Jesus assures his disciples that they can trust God's sovereignty in their protection or their death. Sparrows were the cheapest commodity sold in the markets (as food for the poor); an assarion was a small coin (one-sixteenth of a denarius, thus equivalent to less than an hour's wage; compare 5:26; Wheaton 1982:792). Yet as worthless as sparrows were to people, God watched over them. Jewish teachers agreed that God was sovereign over each bird's fate (Pes. Rab Kah. 11:16; Gen. Rab. 79:6; Eccl. Rab. 10:8, 1). "How much more" (following a standard line of Jewish reasoning) may we therefore be assured that nothing happens to us when God is "not looking" (Ps 121:4; compare 1 Kings 18:27-29). This teaching fits the biblical perspective of a God sovereign over history, who knows every hair on our heads (compare Acts 27:34; 1 Sam 14:45; 2 Sam 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52).
If we faithfully confess Jesus in our witness to others, including before earthly tribunals (Mt 10:17-20), he will also faithfully confess us before God's tribunal, justifying us before him (compare 12:36-37; Jn 12:42; 1 Tim 6:12-13; Rev 3:5). He will also deny those who deny or are ashamed to testify boldly of him (Mt 10:32-33; Mk 8:38; 2 Tim 2:12); we may all be grateful for his mercy on the repentant (Mt 26:34). Jewish people often spoke of "confessing," that is, proclaiming, God; Jesus thus probably calls for a confession of faith in himself here equivalent to confession of faith in God.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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