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.