In the first few paragraphs of Luke 15 we see three very similar teachings. They cover different aspects of the same thing: seeking the lost. The Lord uses three different parable teachings to get the message across. In this one today it is about a woman seeking the lost coin. The fact that Jesus has given this similar message three times tells us that it is important and that Jesus is trying to stress this point. And although each of the three parables has the same outcome, they use different analogies and give a slightly different message. So let us look at the parable of the woman seeking the lost coin.
Coins are Valuable
The first thing we can notice about this is that the coins this woman has are valuable. They are of sufficient value that it is a significant loss to her to lose one of the ten coins that she has. The footnotes in my bible suggest the coin in question here is a drachma and that it was equivalent to a day’s wage for a labourer.
So in trying to understand this parable we can see that the Lord is talking about something of value to him. There were ten of these coins and one has gone missing and the loss is significant to the woman in the parable. Similarly the loss of this thing of value is significant to the Lord.
The things that are of value to the Lord are not coins as He cares nothing about wealth and money. These silver coins represent people for it is they who are of value to the Lord. So what he is talking about here is those people who are seeking to follow in Jesus’ ways. These are the ten silver coins of value.
But then we see that one of these coins gets lost, and the parallel teaching here is when one of the Lord’s people goes astray and loses their way. Perhaps they fall or seek the ways of the world in some way or begin to accept errors rather than the truth or slide back into sin or whatever. If you look at the book of Galatians you can see a perfect example of where people began with the truth and then walked away. That is, they became lost like the woman’s silver coin.
Now when the woman loses her coin what does she do? She does not just say “oh well, what’s gone is gone.” She does not just sit and have a cry about it, or complain about it or anything else The scripture says she will, “…light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it.” (Verse 8)
When she discovers one of the coins is missing she seeks diligently. She sweeps and cleans and pulls the furniture out and looks under the mat and goes through the rubbish and whatever else she needs to do to find that lost coin. She hunts high and low, inside and out until she has looked everywhere to find the lost coin.
Jesus does the same with his people who get lost along the way. When one of his people loses their way, Jesus also seeks diligently for that lost person to help them find their way back to the truth. He goes looking for them to find them. As in the parable yesterday about the lost sheep, he goes out searching to bring that person back into the fold. He leaves no stone unturned in his quest to find the person who was lost in the hope that they can be found.
Does he always find them and bring them back? Not always, because he does not force a person to come to him. When God created man he gave him a free will to choose to follow the Lord or not. What the Lord does in his search for the lost is to give them every opportunity to hear and see the word of God, but in the end the decision to follow and come to Jesus rests with each individual. We will see more of this in the next post on this subject.
Rejoicing When It Is Found
Finally when the woman finds this lost coin, she rejoices over the find. She goes and tells all her friends and neighbours saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.” (Verse 9) This too shows that this coin was of great and significant value as she became ecstatic and wanted to tell all of her friends about how joyful she was to find the missing coin.
Likewise when a sinner comes to the Lord there is great rejoicing in heaven for they were lost but have found their way to the truth. As the Lord said, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Verse 10)
And it is a reason for great joy when a person turns to the Lord. The person has made a decision to step away from the false glitter and glitz of this world to seek a better way. There is plenty of opportunity in this world to turn a person from the truth, but when they recognise that the things of this world are hollow and empty, and they come to Christ to be filled, that is truly a reason to celebrate.
In the next post we will look at this again plus some more aspects of this teaching as we consider the prodigal son and what that means in this context.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Marcin Jochimczyk)