Here we have the second of three stories which Jesus presented to illustrate the Father's determination to reclaim the lost. We looked at the shepherd’s search yesterday. Why would the Master tell another story that basically says the same thing? Why not merely skip ahead to the longest—and to most people, the most poignant—of the parables, the one about the lost son? I think he wants to highlight some different facets of his redeeming love, and also repeat some things for emphasis.
First, this story points out the effort to find what was lost. I’m sure the shepherd put a lot of time and energy into finding his lost sheep, but the story about the coin really brings it out in stark detail. Houses, especially one-rooms like hers, didn’t have windows and only had a dirt floor. That would explain why she’d have to light a lamp and sweep the house. This would likely make it an all-day affair.
Why would she put forth so much effort over one little coin? The sheep likely had sentimental value, but why the fuss over this? The coin was a drachma, which was about a day’s wages. Being poor, the woman could ill afford to let it go. But even more than that, some people say that this was part of a ten-coin set. Some have also theorized that it was her dowry, which would have been extra precious to her. In any case, it’s obvious that this one coin was incredibly valuable to her, and she wasn’t going to stop until she found it.
As I mentioned yesterday, God has been searching for lost sinners since the Fall of our first parents. The Bible is a record of God seeking the people who have run away from him. One of the biggest fallacies I’ve ever heard is that the Bible is a record of “man’s search for God.” Nonsense! Our first parents hid from him, and we’ve been hiding ever since. Some might object to this, saying “But what about all the religions out there? Aren’t they an expression of our search for God?” No. They’re still a way for us to hide from the true, living God. All the rituals, all the ceremonies, all the rules and regulations and myths which man has invented are just a way to avoid the One who created us and who will one day judge us.
All this reminds me of a story I once heard. A pastor was talking to a young girl and wanted to know if she had received Christ. He asked her “Little girl, have you found Jesus?” She answered “Mister, I didn’t know he was lost!” That brings it home, doesn’t it? Jesus wasn’t the one who was lost. We were.
My friend, unless God sought you out and hunted you down, you’d never come to him! The same goes for me. But thank the Lord, he turned on the lights in our dark world, swept out the corners, and was determined to find me. And when we’re found, there’s cause for celebration. We’ll go into this more tomorrow, but it’s worth noting now: In each of these stories, once the lost item (sheep, coin or son) is found, there’s a party to be thrown. In the first story Jesus said there’s rejoicing “in heaven.” Here he says there’s “rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God.” All this over one person who’s claimed by the King? Really? He said it. You read it.
I don’t know about you, but the one thing that comes to my mind in answer to all this: Gratitude. I was lost in the darkness and dirt. It took a lot to find me and claim me. From before the beginning of time, my redemption was meticulously planned out. And just at the right time, he pulled me out of my own mess, cleansed me, claimed me, and now considers me one of his “crown jewels.” Wow.
What else can I say, but thank you. And as always, I’m yours.