The lost coin

Roman coin

 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories to describe his love for the lost, and how far he is willing to go to restore them. His first story was about a shepherd and a lost sheep. This time He uses the example of a woman and a lost coin.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she 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.” (Luke 15:8-10)

It was common practice for the woman of the house to be responsible for keeping the money required for the care of the household. In this case, she has lost one of the ten silver coins needed to run the home. Regarding the cultural background of this story Kenneth Bailey writes,

Peasant women carry any cash held for daily expenses in a tightly knotted rag. The drachma mentioned in this story is a Greek coin weighing 4.3 grams of silver. It was a day’s wages for a laborer. Perhaps these ten coins were given to the wife to provide for the family for a week or two. She tied them up in her little rag but the knot worked loose and a coin fell out.

The people listening to Jesus’ story would understand the desperation this woman felt to find the coin. They would understand and expect her to search desperately to find the coin. Jesus is telling them that he feels this same desperation and desire to restore people to God.

In this story, as in the last, we see that the thing that was lost was not able to participate in its own saving. In the story of the lost sheep Jesus tells us that once the shepherd has found the sheep, he picks it up and carries it home, the shepherd being the sole agent in the saving and restoring of the lost sheep. In this story the lost item is a coin. In no way can the coin participate in its saving. It is entirely dependent on someone else to search for it and find it.

You and I are entirely dependent on Jesus to find us and to bring us home. He knows we are completely unable to save ourselves. He wants us to know that He will do whatever it takes to find us and to save us. All of the burden of saving the sheep was on the shepherd. All of the burden of finding the lost coin was on the woman. And all of the burden of finding and saving you and me is on Jesus.

(Many of the thoughts in this series on Luke 15 come from one book: The Cross & the Prodigal by Kenneth E. Bailey. I recommend it highly.)

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