“Are not five sparrows
Sold for two pennies?
Yet not one of them
In God’s sight.”
οὐχὶ πέντε στρουθία πωλοῦνται ἀσσαρίων δύο; καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔστιν ἐπιλελησμένον ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Luke indicated that Jesus asked them about the value of 5 sparrows. Jesus said these sparrows were sold for two pennies or assarions (οὐχὶ πέντε στρουθία πωλοῦνται ἀσσαρίων δύο). This Roman Empire Greek “assarion” coin (ἀσσαρίων) was worth about 2 cents. So, this total would have been about 4 cents. Yet none of them are forgotten or neglected (καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔστιν ἐπιλελησμένον) in God’s sight (ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ). This verse is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:29, indicating a Q source. Jesus, via Matthew, compared human life to 2 sparrows, not 5 sparrows as here. He asked whether these 2 sparrows (οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία) that sold for a penny or a Greek “assarion” (ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται), were more valuable than humans. Not one of these sparrows would fall to the ground without the heavenly Father (καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν). Thus, if God was worried about these somewhat valueless sparrows, how much more would he be concerned about humans. Do you worry about sparrows?
Our daily bread
τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ’ ἡμέραν·
Luke indicated that Jesus said to the Father to give us (δίδου ἡμῖν) our daily bread (τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον) each day (τὸ καθ’ ἡμέραν). In the second part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” Matthew, chapter 6:11, and Luke, had 4 human petitions, perhaps indicating a common Q source. We should ask the Father to give us (δὸς ἡμῖν) our daily bread or sustenance to sustain our human life (Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον) today (σήμερον). Every day, even today, we need our daily nutrition to live. The hope is that God the Father will provide for us. The Father will provide our daily nutritional needs, since we are dependant upon him. Do you thank God for your daily bread?
To another village.”
καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς ἑτέραν κώμην.
Luke had a simple solution to this problem in his unique story of Jesus on the way to Jerusalem in Samaria. They simply went on to another Samaritan village that might be more hospitable. Luke said that Jesus traveled on (καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν) to another village (εἰς ἑτέραν κώμην). However, a Byzantine text had Jesus say that the Son of Man (ὁ γὰρ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) had not come to destroy human life (οὐκ ἦλθεν ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων ἀπολέσαι), but to save it (ἀλλὰ σῶσαι). Thus, this little adventure into Samaria that only Luke described came to an end. Have you ever been in an area where you were not well received?
“There were also
The sons of Zebedee,
Who were partners
Then Jesus said
‘Do not be afraid!
From now on
You will be
ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου, οἳ ἦσαν κοινωνοὶ τῷ Σίμωνι. καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα ὁ Ἰησοῦς Μὴ φοβοῦ· ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶ
Suddenly, Luke introduced two other people, the sons of Zebedee, James and John, who are companions or partners of Simon. There is no mention of Simon’s brother Andrew here, but he played a major role in the other 3 gospels. In John, chapter 1:35-42, Andrew, Simon’s brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist. There is a major difference between Luke here and Matthew, chapter 4:18-22, and Mark, chapter 1:17-18, who were very similar. They did not have the elaborate story about the fishing in the Sea of Galilee that is here. Mark and Matthew had the brothers Simon and Andrew being fishermen that Jesus saw along the Sea of Galilee, casting or dropping a net into the sea. Mark did not mention the other name of Simon as Peter, like Matthew did. However, it was common for people to have both a Hebrew name like Simon and a Greek name like Peter. John, chapter 1:40-42, had these two brothers from the town of Bethsaida. Mark and Matthew also introduced John and James, the fisherman sons of Zebedee. Zebedee might have been fairly successful, since he was explicitly mentioned and seemed to own a boat. These two brothers, James and John, were in a boat mending their fishing nets with their father, not casting them out to sea. Luke said that James and John, the sons of Zebedee (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου), were partners or companions with Simon (οἳ ἦσαν κοινωνοὶ τῷ Σίμωνι), so that they may have shared a boat or boats. Then Jesus told Simon (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα ὁ Ἰησοῦς) not to be afraid (Μὴ φοβοῦ). From now on, he would be catching people or men, not fish (ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶ). They were no longer going to fish for marine life, but human life. They were to be on the hunt for humans, and not fish.
I will make you
Fish for people.’
They left their nets.
They followed him.”
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλεεῖς ἀνθρώπων.
καὶ εὐθὺς ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.
Mark, like Matthew, chapter 4:19-20, almost word for word, indicated that Jesus wanted these two fishermen brothers to follow him. Jesus said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) to come and follow after him (Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου,), since he was going to make them fishers of human people (καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλεεῖς ἀνθρώπων). They immediately left their nets (καὶ εὐθὺς ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα) and followed or accompanied Jesus (ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ). They were no longer going to fish for marine life, but human life. This was a like an Israelite prophetic call, since Jesus spoke directly to these two men. He issued an invitation that seemed like a command at the same time. They were to follow after him, no matter what. They were to be on the hunt for humans, and not fish. Like the Hebrew prophets, their response was immediate, without any hesitation. They left their fishing nets, as they began to follow Jesus. Thus, Simon and Andrew, the fishing brothers of Galilee, became the first two disciples of Jesus. John, chapter 1:35-42, may shed further light on these two disciples of Jesus, since he indicated that Andrew and Simon were disciples of John the Baptist when Jesus came to John. Then they became disciples of Jesus.
“Are not two sparrows
Sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them
Will fall to the ground
Without your Father’s will.
But even the hairs
Of your head
Are all numbered.
Do not be afraid!
You are of more value
Than many sparrows.”
οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται; καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν.
ὑμῶν δὲ καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶσαι ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν.
μὴ οὖν φοβεῖσθε· πολλῶν στρουθίων διαφέρετε ὑμεῖς.
This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:6-7, indicating a Q source. Jesus, via Matthew, compared human life to 2 sparrows. He asked whether 2 sparrows (οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία) that sold for a penny or a Greek “assarion” (ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται), worth about 2 cents. were more valuable than humans. Not one of these sparrows would fall to the ground without the heavenly Father (καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν). God, the Father, could number all the hairs on their head (μῶν δὲ καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶσαι ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν.). They should not be afraid (μὴ οὖν φοβεῖσθε), because they are more valuable that many sparrows (πολλῶν στρουθίων διαφέρετε ὑμεῖς). If God the Father cares for these insignificant birds, how much more is he concerned about humans. There was a continual theme about not being afraid.
“You have heard
That it was said
To those in ancient times.
‘You shall not murder!’
Shall be liable
Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις Οὐ φονεύσεις· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει.
Next Matthew has Jesus expand on the individual commandments. The first of these was killing or murder. Human life was important, as first outlined in Genesis, chapter 4:1-16, in the Cain and Abel story, as well as in chapter 9:5-6, after the Flood. They already knew this basic commandment, since they had heard what had been told to their ancient ancestors (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). This was the simple commandment not to murder or kill anyone (Οὐ φονεύσεις) from the Ten Commandments in Exodus, chapter 20:13 and Deuteronomy, chapter 5:17, as well as in Exodus, chapter 21:12-17, where there was a section on homicide. There were consequences for anyone who murdered someone else (ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ). They were responsible for their actions. They were liable to be brought to judgment (ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει). This judgment would be before a Jewish court. There were a series of things that had to be done when a murder occurred, as outlined in Deuteronomy, chapter 21:1-9. The law about murder was fairly clear.
“Again I saw that under the sun.
The race is not to the swift.
Nor is the battle to the strong.
Nor is bread to the wise.
Nor is riches to the intelligent.
Nor is favor to the skillful.
But time happens to them all.
Chance happens to them all.
No one can anticipate
The time of disaster.
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So mortals are snared
At a time of calamity.
When it suddenly falls upon them.”
Qoheleth sees human life under the sun like a game of chance. The swiftest runner does not always win the race. The strongest do not always win the battle. The wise do not always have the best food. The intelligent are not always rich. The skillful do not always succeed. Time and chance play a role. No one can predict when disaster will come. Just as fish and birds get stuck in nets and snares, so too mortals get caught when calamity suddenly happens to them.