New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Lost Coins

This parable continues with a theme that the Lord is emphasizing, and will culminate in the lost son, or the prodigal son.

This theme is two fold in my mind, and includes the reckless tenacity of seeking out a lost article (sheep, coin, son) and the joy experienced in heaven when a seeker find the sought, and the sinner repents.

Luke 15:8-10

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

It is important to understand the original audience to understand a bit better the intent of the message. This second parable is no exception. Lets read the first three verses to ensure we know who is hearing this story for the very first time!

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:3 So he told them this parable:

As we pointed out in the last post, we have tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Him! But look – them Pharisees and Scribes are lurking about, checking out this preacher, protecting the nation from heresy and false prophets. What heros!

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

This “middle” parable continues with the theme mentioned above, that is of reckless love for the sought and rejoicing with neighbors when the sought is found.

Of course a coin can’t repent, which introduces a wrinkle in the story, emphasizing the seeker and not the sought. The coin has no “will” in this story, such as the sheep in the previous portion, or which will be discussed in the next parable of the lost son.

The coin was misplaced by the owner, (or some stranger in the home) and has no responsibility for it’s condition. This additional wrinkle is interesting and may be a portion of the reason the Lord used this particular example. Would He be describing a parallel condition found in the one sought, or is He emphasizing the efforts of the seeker?

What was the message for the original audience?

As it was described in the previous parable of the lost sheep, one of the messages that shouts out to the original audience is the importance of each possession the seeker looks for.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd risked 99% of his flock in order to find 1%. I will admit this is ludicrous to my thinking, but for a shepherd in old Israel, that shepherd knew the sheep.

In this parable, the woman sought out one coin, 10% of her silver coins. She tears up her home in order to find that one coin! The coins referred to here are likely drachmas, which represented a days wages. Yet for a common woman, a peasant woman, most of her livelihood is taken care of by making her own cloth, growing her own food, bartering and generally being self supporting, from day to day. These coins may represent her savings and not simply “a days wage”.

This woman wanted all of her coins, just like the shepherd wanted all of his sheep, and upon finding the lost, rejoicing was shared with the seekers friends. Rejoicing! No grumbling or complaining allowed.

What is the message for us today?

In the last parable I asked of your attitude towards “sinners”. Do you receive them as the Lord, accept them and seek to love them, show interest in their lives and trials, or do you simply consider them to be lost and it is their decision, their fault and most can not repent if they wanted to, so….

In this portion of the three parable message, the woman seeks out an inanimate object, a silver coin that has a value associated with it. The coin cannot help in the search. It is simply waiting to be found.

The woman is the seeker, and we understand the woman represents God the Father, as the shepherd in the story before. So we can leave this parable, knowing that we have no responsibility in seeking out the coin, knowing that it is God alone that will search for the coin, will find the coin, and will rejoice over the found coin.

Such may be the conclusion of some who would lean toward a deterministic theology. Taken alone, this parable would seem to support this thinking, but we must admit that the previous and next parable fights against that.

Remember that the sheep in the previous parable wandered off from the flock, which was an unnatural action. The sheep did not wander from the fold simply for no reason. I suggested the attitude of the established religious order within Israel may have been a reason.

The established religious order did not seek those “out of the club”. Jesus did. He received and looked for the ones who were not “in the club”.

If you are “in the club”, whatever that may mean to you, consider those who are not included. The reception of “them” (as opposed to “us”) is at the very heartbeat of these last two parables.

If Jesus has three parables back to back with the same message, that of rejoicing over lost items found, let me ask you – When have you truly rejoiced over a lost one being found? Be careful – the implied message many may hear is of rejoicing that a sinner is converted, get’s baptized, joins a church, begins tithing…

That is not the message that I understand. No conditions are being placed on the lost article in these parables. The rejoicing is over the receiving of the lost one, not the lost ones reaction to being found. This may seem like splitting hairs, but as a believer, I sometimes apply many conditions to my unconditional love for those I know.

Can we love/receive one who is constantly against us, who is arguing against our position, who is mocking our life or who is seemingly settled in a lifestyle of rejection?

Where is my faith, my desire for lost relationships to be reestablished. Jesus is teaching us of His reckless love for all of His “sheep” and for all of His “coins”.

Consider relationships that are broken in your life. Ask for forgiveness. Seek out restoration. Ask for forgiveness for actions you may have committed against them, whether real or perceived! Give up your self importance that may be restricting you from humbly approaching one that the Lord Jesus loves, that you may have inadvertently offended, and you may not even know of.

Ask for forgiveness. Admit your weakness and the love you have for the relationship, the desire you have that considers others, that carries a burden for a neighbor, that seeks out the good of others.

Of course, to be following the Lord, we will not be carrying any grudges, malice, ill will, or resentment towards any, that is, we will have forgiven them of any acts we may have experienced at their hand – it is the way of the Master! Hanging on to offenses from others will only cause the separation to continue, the separation of our lives from the Living God, and from the one who supposedly committed the offence.

How are you receiving others? Have you “found” a coin lately, and the rejoicing that comes with it?



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