Luke 15:8-10 (NIV) “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Again, the context of this parable is the Pharisee’s criticism of Jesus for hanging out with sinners. Jesus, through this series of three closely-related parables, is attempting to impress upon those implacable legalists that Jesus cares about sinners because GOD cares about them, and wants them to be rescued from the sin and death that has them trapped.
In this parable, the focus is a woman who has a small stash of ten silver drachmas, each worth about a day’s wages. For someone in those days to be able to save up that much money was remarkable, and would have in involved a lot of discipline and self-denial. But one day when the woman checked the box in which she had stashed the coins, she found only nine. One was missing!
Since the woman had a lot of self-investment in those coins, she couldn’t just shrug and move on, figuring that she still had nine coins left so the tenth didn’t matter that much. It mattered! She simply had to find it.
So she stopped everything she was doing and initiated a thorough search. Even though houses were simpler then, and had dirt floors, that didn’t make the job easy. She moved all of the furniture, shook out every blanket and pillow, swept the floors, carefully sifting through the piles of dirt that she swept up, all the while looking intently for a tell-tale glint of tarnished silver. She lit a lamp and began searching the corners of the house, every nook and cranny. Finally, in a corner she saw what she was searching for.
The woman picked up the coin, relieved and joyful. But this was too wonderful to keep to herself! She rushed out of the house whooping with excitement, and when her neighbors looked curiously out of the their windows, she loudly called them to join in her celebration. The lost coin has been found!
Jesus then draws the parallel, tying this parable to the one that came before it. He goes to every dark corner of the town and digs through what others might consider mere refuse, because He is looking for something precious that has been lost: a human soul. It does no good to look in the light places, and the safe places – that’s not where they have lost themselves. Jesus’ concern for the lost is the exact representation of God’s own concern. His anxious searching for the lost ones, regardless of where He has to go to look, mirrors God’s search for the lost. And His rejoicing when a single sinner repents and is saved (for example, see Luke 19:9-10) clearly shows the joy that is sparked in God’s own heart, a joy that spreads out to fill heaven, when a sinner is found and rescued.
Father, how quickly and easily we write off people. But You don’t. You are focused on bringing all who are willing into Your kingdom, rescuing them from sin and death and darkness, and bringing them into Your life and Your light. Lord, give me that same passion for the lost that You have, and that Jesus so consistently demonstrated. Amen.