140713 Matthew 10:26-31

Last Updated on Monday, 14 July 2014 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: Matthew 10:26-31
Theme: Children Of God, You Have Nothing To Fear

Are you afraid? According to the National Institute of Mental Health there is a pretty good chance that you are. Their research shows that over nineteen million American adults (that's about one out of every eleven) suffer from one or more specific phobias.

The full list of phobias is almost limitless, consisting of anything that any person could ever fear. But some phobias are much more common than others, and here is a list of the top ten. The ten most common specific phobias include...

Acrophobia, the fear of heights. Claustrophobia, fear of enclosed spaces. Nyctophobia, fear of the dark. Ophidiophobia, fear of snakes. Arachnophobia, fear of spiders. Trypanophobia, fear of injection or medical needles. Astraphobia, the fear of thunder and lightning. Nosophobia, fear of having a disease. Mysophobia, fear of germs. And finally, triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13.

Maybe some of your personal fears made the top ten. Or maybe you have an entirely different list of fears. But whatever it is that makes us afraid, all of our fears flow from a common source. Every one of our fears can be traced back to a lack of trust. Like little children who need their parents to reassure them that there are no monsters hiding under the bed before they turn off the bedroom light, we need our heavenly Father's constant reassurance that we don't have to be afraid.

The Lord, through the gospel writer Matthew, provides us with that comforting reminder in the gospel lesson for today. This morning Jesus shares with us words he first shared with his disciples, and in these verses our Savior gives us this promise...

CHILDREN OF GOD, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR

I. Your Father will protect you
II. Your Father will provide for you

The text begins: "Do not be afraid of them" (26a). Jesus' command is simple enough, but it might leave you wondering to yourself: "Who is the 'them?'" and "Why shouldn't I be afraid of them?" The answer to the first question can be found in the verses that come right before our text.

Before Jesus sent his disciples out to preach and teach and heal in his name, he wanted to prepare them for the opposition they would inevitably encounter. Jesus predicted that his followers would be arrested and beaten and forced to stand trial for the terrible crime of proclaiming the good news of salvation through Jesus. And many of them were. In fact, most of the disciples were put to death because they dared to share their faith.

Two thousand years later not a whole lot has changed for those who claim to be Jesus' disciples. In some parts of the world Christians are being persecuted, even executed, simply because they are Christians. In our own country, in a land that takes great pride in its religious freedom, pastors are not thrown in jail for what they preach from their pulpits. But considering the changing religious climate, that day may not be very far away.

If the world is becoming more and more anti-Christian, if being a Christian means that you walk around with a target on your back, why shouldn't we be afraid? Jesus tells us why: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs" (26b, 27).

The day is coming when all the evil in the world will be exposed. The day is coming when good will triumph over evil once and for all. The day is coming when Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. The day is coming when Jesus will come to take us to the places he has prepared for us in heaven.

So we don't have to be afraid. We don't have to be afraid to tell people that people are not basically good. We don't have to be afraid to call sin sin. We don't have to be afraid to proclaim from the rooftops that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to heaven.

And when we do we don't have to worry about what other people might say about us. We don't have to worry about what other people might do to us. Because God is our Father, because He protects us, because He will deliver us, God's children have nothing to fear.

Well, almost nothing. Jesus continues: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (28). This is one of those verses that puts a lump in my throat every time I read it. These words could literally scare a person out of hell (if that were possible).

Jesus recognized that his enemies would go after his followers and that in some situations they would even kill his followers. But that's all they can do. They can kill the body, but they cannot touch the soul. So Christians don't have to be afraid of their enemies. Christian martyrs might even want to thank their enemies because they actually help them get to their eternal reward.

If you are going to be afraid of someone, Jesus says, be afraid of the One who knows all your dirty little secrets. Fear the One who sees through all your flimsy excuses. Fear the One who holds your eternal destiny in his hands. Fear the One who can destroy your body AND your soul. Fear the one who would be well within his rights to banish you to hell forever.

That's what God's law threatens, but that's not what God wants. He doesn't want you to be afraid of him, but he does want you to see how foolish it is to worry. He wants you to know that you are his dear child. He wants you to know that he will protect you. And he wants you to know that you have nothing to fear because your heavenly Father will provide for you.

Jesus goes on: "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father" (29). In Jesus' day sparrows were a dime a dozen. Actually a dime could get a person a dozen sparrows plus eight more. The point Jesus was making is this. Even though sparrows have very little monetary value, they are still valuable to their Creator.

Just in case the disciples didn't understand where Jesus was going with the first illustration, he gave them second one: "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (30). I don't know who came up with this number or how they came up with it, but it is estimated that the average person has about 140,000 hairs on his/her head.

God, however, doesn't deal in round numbers. He knows the exact number of hairs on your head. In fact, God has gone one step farther. He has numbered each individual hair, the hairs on your head, the hairs that get stuck in your brush, the hairs that go down the shower drain.

So what do hair and sparrows have in common? And what do sparrows and hair have to do with us? Let me answer those two questions by asking two more questions. If God cares so deeply about sparrows, little birds that are among the least of his creatures, don't you think that he will also take care of you? And if your heavenly Father pays attention to the most minute detail like the number of hairs on your head, don't you think that he will pay attention to the rest of you and provide you with exactly what you need?

Of course God will take care of you. Of course God will provide for you. Those obvious answers led Jesus to an obvious conclusion. He told his disciples, and he tells you: "Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (31).

You are a special creation of God. When God formed you, he gave you an immortal soul. You are worth more to him than all the sparrows in the world. You are more valuable to God than all the money in the world. You are so precious to God that he was willing to give up his most precious possession, his one and only Son, to die on the cross, to die in your place, to die for your sins and the sins of the whole world.

Because of Jesus, we have the right to call God our Father. Because of Jesus, we pray "Our Father in heaven," with the confidence that we will spend eternity with our Father in heaven. Because God is our loving Father, we are not afraid.

We aren't afraid of snakes or spiders. We aren't afraid of thunder and lightning. We aren't afraid of being diagnosed with a terminal disease because we aren't afraid to die. Because God has met our greatest need, because God will meet all of our other needs, because we have a Savior who freed us from our sins by his own blood, because we have the sure and certain hope of heaven, because we have a heavenly Father who protects us and provides for us, God's children have nothing to fear. Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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