Luke 15, 1-10
I’m sure you’ve all lost or mislaid something at some point like the woman in the story
The coin was that she had lost was a drachma (according to the original Greek) which was the equivalent of a day’s wage for a labourer So its loss would have been important, even if she had nine other drachma.
Rather than just hoping it would turn up, the woman sets to and sweeps the floor and it would have been a mud lined, uneven floor so not easy to find. But this woman’s diligence paid off and she found her coin. She was so pleased about it that she then called in all her friends and neighbours and threw a party to celebrate But what doesn’t make sense is that the cost of the party would have been much greater than the value of the coin she had lost.
In some ways the story about the lost sheep makes no sense either. Few shepherds would leave 99 sheep and go off in search of one – economically it didn’t make sense.
And Jesus’ hearers would have known that. They would have recognized that what Jesus was saying went against the wisdom of the world
To work out just what Jesus was saying, we have to put the stories back into context.
Jesus tells these parables as a response to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees for the fact that he welcomed and even ate with tax collectors and outcasts.
Jesus was overturning the accepted values of the world and saying that to be part of God’s kingdom his hearers have to think very differently from how they had in the past. The old ways of doing things would no longer do – they had to put aside their long held ideas and look at things in a completely new way.
So he tells these stories to illustrate the point
As well as illustrating the upside down values of God’s kingdom, these stories also tell us about God. God is a caring God, a loving God.
The shepherd notices that one of the sheep is missing and goes off in search of it.
He could have said, ‘well no one’s going to miss one sheep – it’s not worth the effort of going after just one’ and probably no one would have thought the worse of him for that.
But he didn’t and when he found the sheep, he rejoiced that it had been found safe and well.
The woman could have said ‘well, I’ve got another 9 coins, I’ll make do with them’ but she didn’t.
So God is concerned about the loss of one person
The shepherd goes to seek out the lost sheep, the woman sets out to find her coin.
In the same way God sets out to seek the lost – it is God who takes the initiative. God doesn’t necessarily wait for us to come to him but goes out of his way to find and help us.
The Psalmist recognized that when he says
‘I wander about like a lost sheep; so come and look for me, your servant’ (Ps 119:176).
‘How I long for your saving help, O Lord!’ (174)
So the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin show us in picture language God’s amazing love for us.
A love so great that it will go to any lengths to search out those who are lost and rejoices at their return.
A love which also sustains and cares for us in our daily lives and never lets us go.
Revd Roz Harrison