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God’s Word for You

Luke 12:6-7 five sparrows sold

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, August 7, 2018

6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  But not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. 7 Why, even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So stop being afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

Sparrows were sold in the markets as cheap food. The coin in question here is the Roman as, written assarion in Greek. The as (sounds like “oz”) was a coin used during the Roman Republic and later during the years of the Roman Empire. Originally cast of bronze and later of copper, it had the two-faced god Janus on one side (heads) and the bow of a ship, probably a Roman trireme, on the other (tails). Several fractional coins were minted at different times, including the half-as or semis, the quarter-as or quadrans, a half-quadrans (1/8-as) called a lepton (this was the widow’s “mite” in Mark 12:42), a 1/3-as known as a triens, a two-thirds coin called a bes, a one-sixth coin called a sextans, and even half a sextans (1/12) known as an uncia. There was also a 5/12 version called a quincunx, and a semiuncia (1/24) and various larger coins also based on the as, such as the 2x dupondius and the 2½ sestertius. A 10x coin—the well-known denarius—was revalued with inflation to 16x the value of the as sometime during the Maccabean period (about 140 B.C.).

Jesus’ two references to the as in the New Testament teach us about the economics of the local marketplace in first century Judea. Whereas he is quoted as says “two sparrows are sold for a penny (as)” in Matthew 10:29, here he says, “five sparrows are told for two pennies.” We easily detect a “buy four, get one free” deal which is common in our stores even today.

I’ve heard (I didn’t look it up) that the human head has about 150,000 hairs. It is amazing to learn that God knows the number and knows the condition of each one—just as he knows each and every sparrow. So if he pays attention to the sparrows we hold so cheaply, and the hair we reduce to the singular (“you have nice hair”), how much more comfort he gives to us by telling us that he cares for us in such a special way!

How God loves us! Some of the medieval scholars like Bernard and Bonaventure considered this love even to the extent that jealousy over it may have brought on the fall of Satan. Bernard thought that the devil fell on account of his sin of envy when it was revealed to him that the Son of God would take on the body of a man rather than the form of an angel when he would one day enter into the world (see Luther’s Works vol. 5, p. 221). Whether this was the downfall of the devil and his demons we can’t say, but we can say with absolute certainty that it was God’s love and mercy for us that brought about our salvation. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Paul says the same thing in Romans: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God’s concern even for our many hairs will also show itself when we are remade in the resurrection. For those who have lost their hair, or ruined it, or have had it burned or even stolen, they will all receive it back. Just as the limbless will receive back their limbs, the blind their sight, the deaf their hearing, and on and on, so also the bald or scalded will have back the crown of their physical bodies. The glory and restoration we will have in heaven runs more than just through our flesh. We will also be healed of the taint of sin and temptation. We will see and do everything in line with the will of God, never straying, never imposing our own will over that of our heavenly Father. We will live as his children forever, and we live today in eager anticipation.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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