“Yet not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18). That is a comforting statement! Just think, we have a guarantee from Jesus that not one single hair of our head is in trouble. I once took that to mean that God is watching out for us in the “here and now,” and we should not worry because Christians are exempt from problems. That sounds nice, but something is troubling about his statement – not the statement itself, but the context of the passage that changes everything.
Jesus is warning about the future fall of Jerusalem, an ugly time to come that will call for great faith from God’s people. Just before the above comforting statement, Jesus says, “…they will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, AND THEY WILL PUT SOME OF YOU TO DEATH, and you will be hated on account of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:12-17).
That blew away my past understanding of the statement. If we interpret this statement to refer to our physical well-being, we have some problems. But if we understand these words in view of eternal life, it makes more sense. God is concerned about our physical well-being, but He is ultimately concerned about getting us to heaven. “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19); “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” (Luke 9:24).
This is the killer statement from Jesus, maybe more literal than we would like to think.