The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15 contains 3 parables:

1. The Parable of the Lost Sheep
2. The Parable of the Lost Coin
3. The Parable of the Lost Son
(also called The Prodigal son)


Jesus in 3 parables explains many of the same general truths over and over again. Each parable also brings out more truths that add to the whole lesson that Jesus wants to teach his disciples. We must also realize that the parable speaks to the Scribes and the Pharisees about their own condition spiritually.

Major Themes in all three parables in Luke 15:

1. God places a very high value on the soul of a man!

2. God delights in searching out the Lost & Needy

3. God does not stop until He brings in the Lost that He's looking for.

It's so important in studying any parables (or any portion of Scripture for that matter) to pay close attention to the context and what precipitates questions and answers. In the case of the Luke 15 parables, a Statement / Question from the Pharisees, precipitated an answer from the Lord Jesus.

Luke 15:2, And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them."

Mark 2:16, And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"

Mat. 9:9, As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.10, Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.11, And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"12, When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.13, "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

What were the Scribes and Pharisees complaining about?

Jesus was seeking after and spending time with the wicked sinners of society. Remember, the Scribes and Pharisees failed to see themselves as sinners in need.

The parables in Luke 15 show the contrast between God's view and and the way He valued Lost sinners and the Pharisees view of sinners and the way they valued lost sinners.

Last week we looked at the first 7 verses of Luke 15, dealing with "The Searching Shepherd." Let's review who the characters in the parable represent:

1. The Lost sheep represent the person who recognizes their UN-righteousness

2. The shepherd who Leaves the 99 represent the Lord seeking those that know they are spiritually lost and spiritually sick.

*Jesus puts forth the great value of seeking one who knows they are unrighteous...

3. The 99 sheep left in the wilderness represent the self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees... * notice Luke 15:7, 99 just persons, who need no repentance (this was a self-perceived condition).

Remember the context of Luke 15, there are 3 main groups of people: The Lord, The sinners who are coming to Him and the sinners He goes to and the Scribes & Pharisees.

Now the next parable reveals the great lengths people will go to in order to salvage what is valuable to them.

illustration: I want to tell you a quick TRUE story that illustrate this truth: Years ago a horse shoeing customer of mine had a horse that bit her 2 Caret Diamond off it's gold setting while she standing near a coral fence. Now what would you do if your horse swallowed something that valuable? Well, that customer of mine finally got the diamond back, but it took a lot of dirty work, because they had to wait for the diamond to go through the horse's digestive track and then... well you know... they had to go searching with rubber gloves on their hands. They did however, eventually find the diamond that was very valuable. What if that horse had swallowed some cheap costume jewelry? I guarantee you that those dear folks would not have searched at all for that stone. Why, because it would not be valuable.

This brings us to the second parable which involves a woman who had 10 coins and lost one. These 10 coins may have been part of her bride's dowry. They were typically mounted on a head band to be worn in Public. In their culture, loss of a coin could represent Unfaithfulness and this would be a real shame and disgrace to her family and husband. These cultural truths help us to see the extreme value on the one coin.

Luke 15:8, "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin..."

Now Jesus explains the efforts one goes through to seek out something valuable. Palestinian homes did not have windows like we have today to let light in light. Nor did these homes have hard wood floors, instead they had dirt floors often covered with straw. So it would be a huge task to find a coin that dropped on the floor. Notice the effort the woman puts into the search for the one coin:

v. 8, "does not light a lamp" (which mean she's does)

She makes every effort to see the lost item. We see the realization that the lost will be in the dark in this parable. She also "sweeps the house", more than likely after carefully removing the straw by hand. She would carefully and gently sweep the entire house looking for that one lost coin.

Most of us today have so much money that we let coins fall to the ground and unless they're easy to see, we may not even keep looking.

Next, v. 8... "and search carefully until she finds it"

Search diligently... "until"... we see a resolve to Keep on looking & looking...

This parable shares a principle with the previous parable. The one seeking the lost does not stop UNTIL they have restored the lost or found the lost. To the soul winner, the implication of continued persistence is very strong. Don't ever give up on the lost so long as they will listen to you! So long as they're willing to admit even slightly that they are sinners.

Jesus main teaching here is directed at the Pharisees who were questioning Jesus' efforts in spending time and seeking out the tax collectors and sinners. The Labor of seeking is commensurate with the value of the Lost item.

v. 9, "And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'"

What is also interesting in this parable, is that in both the Seeking Shepherd and the Woman seeking the coin, they find what was already rightfully theirs to begin with. That's a bit of theology to chew on, but chew on it we must. God is Sovereign and in His Word He does claim that all that exist belongs to Him. Take for instance the Potter and the Clay illustration of Romans 9.

Notice who's involved in rejoicing in these parables, v.10, "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." In both the shepherd's finding of the one sheep and the woman's finding of the one coin, the rejoicing is in the restoration of the Lost. There is no great rejoicing over those items that are never lost. In these parables the Scribes and Pharisees who thought they were righteous are represented by the sheep, the coins and the son that were never lost. Notice however, they are also never restored.

Closing illustration: Mel Fisher one of the most famous treasure hunters spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, lost his oldest son & daughter in-law to gain Millions (2-4 mil) in Spanish Gold & Silver from the Spanish Galleon "Atocha". What are we willing to invest to seek the lost? The Souls of men are Eternal treasures that will be with us in Heaven. Are not the souls of men the most valuable thing for us to be seeking during this earthly pilgrimage? Yes, they are! Let us not be like the Scribes and Pharisees that saw no value in seeking after the lost, but rather let each of us be like Christ and go after sinners with the blessed good news of the Gospel.

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