Jesus was a storyteller. As the crowds flocked to Him, He taught spiritual truths by sharing simple stories that everyday people would understand. Today we look at one of those stories, the parable of the Woman Who Lost Her Coin.
Her story is found in Luke 15 verses 8-10. It’s tucked between two other related parables. These three stories that comprise Luke 15 are called by some Bible scholars as “The Trilogy of Jesus”. They aren’t so much three distinct stories so much as three aspects of Jesus’ message that He came to seek and save the lost. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges describes them as pictures of the bewildered sinner, the unconscious sinner, and the voluntary sinner.
At the beginning of Luke 15, the Pharisees were confused. They watched as tax collectors and sinners gathered around Jesus, and He welcomed them and even ate with them. It made no sense. Jesus explained it to them through the technique of parables.
Part one is the story of the lost sheep. The shepherd has one hundred sheep and one goes missing. Though he still has ninety-nine sheep, that doesn’t lesson his concern for the one who is lost. He goes seeking after that one sheep and rejoices when he is found.
Next comes the story of the woman and her lost coin. A woman has ten coins, and she loses one. Though she still has nine coins, she lights a lamp and sweeps the house, searching carefully until she finds the lost coin. Once it’s recovered, she calls her friends and neighbors to tell them the good news.
The last part of the trilogy is the story of the prodigal’s son. A man has two sons. The youngest runs away. Though the man has another son who remains at home, it doesn’t diminish his concern for his lost son. When the son returns, the father rejoices. Though he was lost, he was now found.
The Rest of the Story
Three simple stories, but so much gospel packed into them. Let’s unpack the tale of the woman and her lost coin.
We know very little about this woman. Is she rich or is she poor? Is she married or single? What is the significance of her coins to her?
I always assumed she must be poor if she only had ten silver coins. I wondered, was that her entire life savings? What was the value of the coins?
Bible scholars can’t seem to agree on the monetary value. Some say the coin represented a day’s pay. Others say it was an insignificant amount of money, like a quarter.
Nevertheless, it represented a tenth of what she had, which is significant regardless of its monetary value.
If we read this in context of our world, we would picture her having her money stored in her purse, and a coin falling out of her purse without her realizing it. But if we study it in biblical context, we’ll discover much more to this story.
Women of Jesus’ day wore on their foreheads a headress made of coins. It was part of a married woman’s betrothal or dowry. It was like their inheritance given to them by their father at the time of their marriage. These coins, then would be much more than merely money, but would have great sentimental value attached as well.
So what does the woman do when she realizes her coin is missing?
She turns on the light. Things get lost in the dark, but when we shine the light, it helps us to see.
What else does she do?
She sweeps. She gets on her hands and knees and she sweeps under the furniture and in all of the crooks and crannies, scouring through the accumulated dust and debris, not stopping until she finds it.
Then, there it is, shining forth in the light. What was hidden is now recovered.
Finally, how does she respond upon finding the lost coin?
She calls her friends and neighbors and shares the good news with them.
So what was Jesus trying to say with these parables?
The first story of the shepherd and lost sheep shows how important we are to Him. Though we are only one of many, we matter. That sheep was lost in his own world, not deliberately seeking to stray but merely oblivious to where he was or where he was going. By the time he looked up from his meal, he had no idea where he was nor how to find his way back to the flock. Fortunately for him, the shepherd valued him and went seeking after him, rejoicing when he was found.
The world of the shepherd and his sheep was big. Lots of sheep and lots of room to roam. The shepherd had to cover much territory in order to recover the lost sheep.
The sheep represent those who foolishly wander away from the flock, and Jesus gently brings them back to where they belong.
The story of the woman and her coin takes place in her house. The coin had no consciousness of being lost. It fell through no fault of its own and remained there until its owner recouped it.
Our churches and homes are full of individuals who are lost and don’t even realize it. It’s not until the light is shined down on them that their lostness is made apparent to them.
Then there’s the prodigal son who rebelled and purposely rejected his father. As a result, he experienced the consequences of his sin. But it was when he was at his lowest that he realized the need he had for his father’s love. And the father welcomed him home with open arms.
So many Christian teens and young adults have felt the call of the world and abandoned their upbringing. But oh, the rejoicing that occurs when a rebellious soul finds his way back home.
Which of these stories or characters represents where you are today?
Have you wandered away from God, and now you’re not sure how to find Him? If so, take comfort in knowing that though you’ve gone your own way, you’ve not wandered so far that He can’t bring you back. He loves you so very much and will not rest until you’re safely back with the flock where you belong.
Are you someone who was raised in a Christian home, grown up in the church, and yet, you’re lost? You’re helplessly alone in the dark. If so, don’t despair. Jesus is the Light. Follow the Light, and He will lead you to Him.
Are you the prodigal daughter? Isn’t it a relief to know that God is a loving Father who welcomes us back regardless of how far we’ve turned away?
A common thread runs through each of these stories, and that is the rejoicing that occurs when a lost soul is saved. Are you rejoicing and sharing the good news of your salvation? Are you rejoicing in the salvation of others?
The Pharisees and religious leaders didn’t care about lost souls. They were more interested in the 99 obedient sheep, the 9 coins that weren’t lost, and the son who stayed home. But Jesus is all about the one. We are not just faceless, nameless entities. We are souls sought out and loved by Him. How can we not, then, rejoice and praise His name?
Lord God, we come to You praising You for seeking us out and saving us. Thank You for being The God Who Sees, Our Shepherd, Our Deliverer. Forgive us those times we wander away and lose sight of You. Thank You for lighting the darkness and helping us find our way back home. Help us to be a reflection of Your light, sharing Your love with those around us. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at another parable woman,
the Importunate Widow, seeking help from an unjust judge.
Backstory: Luke 15:1-7
Her Story: Luke 15:8-10
The Rest of the Story: Luke 15:11-31
Bible Study Review
- What are the three parables in Luke 15?
- What did the woman do to find her coin?
- What did the woman do when she found her coin?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did Jesus tell parables?
- What do the three parables in Luke 15 have in common?
- What was Jesus’ message in these parables?
- Have you ever lost something that was dear to you?
- Have you ever felt lost and worried that no one cared?
- Do you have a heart for the lost world?
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