The Lost Coin

Greek coin from time of Jesus

A story is engaging.  Jesus told many parables or stories that illustrated a truth.

Studying the setting, context or problem, and the solution gives readers the valuable truths that Jesus was teaching.  In the story of the lost coin, Luke 15:8-10, Jesus illustrated the value of repentance for those who were lost.

Setting

A parable is defined as a true-to-life story using real-life situations to illustrate a truth. Jesus told many parables that appealed to the common man during His time on earth. The setting of Luke 15 is near the time when the Pharisees and the Jews began to reject Jesus.

Biblical context:
  • Luke 13, Jesus explains to his disciples that only a few Jews will enter the Kingdom along with others from outside of Jerusalem; namely Gentiles.
  • In Luke 14, Jesus meets at a Pharisee’s home.
  • Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son.
  • In Luke 16, Jesus instructs and tells parables on the use of wealth.

In verse one of Luke 15 it says that the tax collectors and sinners gathered to Jesus. The Pharisees, though, made a complaint regarding this saying in Luke 15:2, “this man receives sinners and eats with them.”  Tax collectors were not looked upon favorably within the culture of the Jews. They were seen as aiding the Roman Empire. The Pharisees saw these sinners as people who were hopeless. Eating with the sinners meant Jesus was spending time with them and speaking to them. The sinners saw the hope in Jesus, but the Pharisees did not.

Just before this in chapter 14 Jesus goes to a Pharisee’s home on the Sabbath. The Pharisees often criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. There was a sick man there and Jesus healed him confronting the Pharisees and in response had nothing to say. The Pharisees were not able to even see the goodness of Jesus’ miraculous healing.

Solution

The Pharisees had a problem and the parable gave the solution.  The story is only three verses long found in Luke 15:8-10.

“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.’

The coin was a drachma, a Greek coin.  It was considered to be a day’s wage.  She lost one coin out of 10 coins. This could be considered her savings. The Pharisees may not have valued such a small amount of money but the woman obviously did. The woman lit the lamp and swept the house looking for the coin.  In verse 8 it says she searched until she found it. She put a considerable amount of time and effort in looking for the coin.

Thomas Constable says because the coin is a Greek coin it might represent God going to the Gentiles.  While it is a Greek coin this is not specifically stated by Jesus’ at the end of the parable.  Though, this is the only place where the Greek coin appears in the New Testament.

So, the woman rejoices and not only that – she calls her friends to rejoice together.

Main Truth

Jesus states the main truth of the parable in Luke 15:10, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” This pleases God. Jesus ate with sinners because that is why He came to the Earth. Anna Wierzbicka said of these parables, “…the images that he uses make it clear that God is supremely concerned about every individual sinner.” The Pharisees did not see Jesus; they wanted to continue to be religious. They did not see themselves as lost sinners.

Jesus came down to our level. Jesus touched a leper, went to tax collectors homes, and went to Gentile towns. Any man even the Pharisees would be happy to find something they had lost. The Pharisees did not see grace but saw themselves as “righteous”. In an attempt to make themselves clean the Pharisees rejected Christ’s love. Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God has done something great and there’s much to rejoice over when a sinner returns to him. Many people believed and understood this Truth that Jesus illustrated in this parable of the lost coin.

Spiritual Application

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4. We are happy when we are saved but if we are unsatisfied we may not be joyous at another person’s happiness. Do not be ungrateful and continue to, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”, Philippians 4:5-6.

We are all lost and Jesus has found us. When we look at those who do not believe we must strive to see them as Jesus does in the story he told. He did not see them as people to stay away from because they were sinners who had no hope. Jesus saw the value in those who were lost. Without Jesus we are hopeless.

The lost coin parable conveys a truth. The setting was when the tax collectors and sinners gathered to Jesus. The problem was the Pharisees were not pleased by Jesus eating with the tax collectors and sinners. The solution was to be joyous when a sinner repented because Jesus loved them. We likewise should be joyful over those who repent and to share God’s love with others.

A few sources:

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