Category Archives: Encouragement

The Parable of the Lost: Part 2 (Coin)

When I was ten years of age, I had a very realistic dream. My brother, who works nights and shared the room with me, walked in to me looking all around my bed, under the covers, under the box springs, everywhere I could. He watched for a few moments and then asked me, “What are you doing?” I responded, “I’m looking for the mayor’s wife!” He figured it was a book I was reading for my 5th grade class and walked out. In reality, I dreamed that the mayor’s wife had been kidnapped and I was called in to find her. I apparently was still half-asleep and half-dreaming when he walked in. I was ready and willing to do anything and look anywhere (within the confines of my room, that is) to find the mayor’s wife. In case, you were wondering, I never found her–it was a dream!

Yesterday, I wrote a quick article on the parable of the lost sheep. You can read it here, if you’d like. Today’s parable deals with a woman who lost a coin. This was no dream. It was a costly reality.

“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? 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.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10, ESV)

Jesus was still dealing with the scowls and whispers of the Pharisees and scribes in Luke 15:1, as he told this parable. Whereas, in the first parable of the lost sheep, there was 1 of 100 missing, in this parable there is 1 of 10 coins missing. But also notice, all the coins are the same. She had ten silver coins. She lost one of them. That one was of equal worth as the other coins. Why not be happy with the nine left over? Because while it may be a great deal of money and worth more collectively, the sum total is not more than its individual parts. Each individual coin is worth something. Each has equal value.

I find it interesting that Peter, in his second letter, wrote about not doubting Christ’s return by explaining why he delayed it. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV; italics mine). Not one should perish. Every single one of the elect must reach repentance. It is not enough to have a billion souls through 2,000 years, not if there is one more soul to have. Each is valuable. He will not stop seeking and saving those who are lost as long as there is one who will reach repentance.

Again, like the shepherd who rejoiced greatly when he found his sheep, so the woman rejoiced greatly when she found her coin. She had swept her whole house looking for it. She took a lamp and looked in every nook and cranny for the coin that had rolled away. After much hard-work, she called her friends to come and rejoice with her. There was no time to lose. What was once lost, was now found; everyone should feel the pleasure of seeing that. All should desire to celebrate it.

Jesus pointed out that the same happens in the presence of the angels of God when a lost soul is found. It’s almost a restatement of verse 7, but a little different; it’s a little more specific. It is not just that there is rejoicing in heaven, but that there is rejoicing in the presence of angels. God himself is rejoicing over the lost being found. If God can rejoice–the very one who is sinned again–how is that the Pharisees and scribes could not, or rather would not. And as Herschel Hobbs wrote, “If one sinner is so precious to God why should not Jesus receive them and eat with them?”* I would point out here, that it was not these coins were not yet found, but were still lost. The eating and receiving of such sinners was the searching part; not the finding. Many would be found; many would stay lost.

There are precious, valuable coins out there. Every one of them stamped with the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Most of them are lost, hiding in the crevices of society, in the couch cushions of addictions, under the pantries of pleasure. Finding those valuable coins will not be easy. It will be exhausting and dirty work, but the joy of finding them will help us to forget all grime, sweat, and tears.

Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of Luke, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1966), 233.

Joyful Treasure: Thoughts on Matthew 13:44

When I was a teenager, our family hosted a Saturday night Bible study for the youth. Since my dad was a pastor, we had dozens of Bibles so if anyone forgot to bring theirs, they simply borrowed one of ours. I remember that on one Saturday night, one teen found $20 in a Bible. He informed my dad of his discovery and got up to hand it back to him. He told him to keep it. He explained that he purposefully put the $20 in the Bible a few weeks prior as an object lessons. “There’s treasure in the Scriptures; greater treasures than a measly $20.” You probably know what happened next. Everyone with a borrowed Bible began thumbing through it looking for $20. Perhaps they missed the point.

Jesus told a parable as well. An object lesson of sorts. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field,” (Matthew 13:44, ESV). The kingdom of heaven, God’s kingdom (his domain, his realm, his rule) is like a treasure hidden. It is of great worth. It’s more valuable than we know.

If you’ve ever seen the Marvel’s movie The Black Panther, you know that the nation of Wakanda looks like a poor African kingdom, but in reality it is technology and monetarily wealthy. It has weapons and technology no other nation in the world has. Yet it is purposefully hidden in East Africa using the technology that comes with harnessing Vibranium. I am not a fan of comparing reality with comic books, but I want to make the points that

  1. God’s Kingdom has more riches, more wonders, than we may notice at first and
  2. Those riches and wonders are purposefully hidden and must be found.

Just as Wakanda and just as my dad placing the $20 in the Bible were purposefully hidden, so the kingdom of God is hidden as well. This is why Jesus told parables. “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand,” (Matthew 13:13, ESV). Mark expresses it even more emphatically, “And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven,”‘” (4:11-12, ESV).

However, once someone sees–truly sees–the treasure that is God’s kingdom, nothing can keep him from having it. In the parable, the man covers the treasure up and runs to sell everything in order to buy the field. Some people get hung up on his covering and buying without informing the owner. Don’t. Parables have a point. They are not to answer every question that may arise. Not everything has a specific meaning in parables. The main focus is on how great the treasure of the field is, and it should be on that which we concentrate.

The treasure was so great that the man sold everything! He abandoned everything he knew and had to gain the treasure in the field, and he did it with pleasure. Like those teenagers who began to flip through their Bibles joyfully expecting a surprise, this man joyfully bought a field. He was willing to pay any price because he knew that nothing he owned could compare to what he found. Even if everyone else thought he was insane to sell everything, he knew the truth. Do we see heaven like that man saw the treasure?

I wonder if many of us simply see some shiny metal, maybe a sparkle here and there and do not see the treasure that is heaven. I wonder if we have not inspected the treasure to see how valuable it truly is. I say that because of how casually many Christians treat the kingdom.

I watch Survivor and see men and women cast away for 39 days. They suffer hunger, pain, sleep-depravation, loneliness, betrayal, and more to win $1,000,000 and often to prove something to themselves or others. They cry, they get angry, they laugh at times, they push themselves to the very limit, always talking about coming home with $1,000,000 and self-respect. Not everyone wants to be on Survivor, but watching that show can give us an idea of what the man in the parable felt. If someone came to you and simply told you that you could have $1,000,000 if you sold your house and all your possessions, would you be willing to do so? The kingdom of heaven is much greater than that, and in reality, most of us will never have to sell a thing. Instead, we must see it for what it is: priceless–invaluable, and then be willing to give all (even if we are never called upon to do so). I hope this year, as I grow in my Christian walk, I see God’s kingdom ever more valuable and may the joy that brings to my soul be such that I can easily part with whatever called upon to do. I hope the same for you.