Scripture: “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, Luke records part two of the dinner party at the synagogue ruler’s house. Given that the host and his guests refused to respond to Jesus’ question about the legality of healing on the Sabbath and seeing how those invited sought to sit in places of honor around the table, he told them a parable to expose their self-aggrandizing behavior. Likening their dinner to a wedding feast, Jesus advises them to take the seat of least honor and wait for the host to decide whether he desires them to be seated closer to him. In this way, they will avoid embarrassment if asked to relocate to accommodate another guest of more significant distinction. And such humble discretion will be rewarded if the host invites them closer to him. Finally, to be clear, Jesus concludes that those who self-promote will be humbled, but God will exalt the humble.
For today’s reading, we skip to The Parable of the Lost Coin (found only in Luke’s Gospel). Following The Parable of the Lost Sheep (also told in Matthew 18:10-14), the lost coin metaphor emphasizes how paramount even one lost soul is to their Creator. The coins here are drachmas (each worth a day’s wages). A typical house would have a low doorway and a few small windows to limit the impact of the scorching sun. Hence, she would need to light a lamp and sweep with a broom to search and find the coin on the hardened earthen floor. And her response of jubilation when finding the coin would imply its significant percentage of her financial resources (ten percent to be exact). Indeed, relieved with gratitude, she calls her neighbors to celebrate with her the good news. And to bring home the point of this lesson, Jesus tells the Pharisees and scribes, who grumbled about him keeping company with tax collectors and sinners (see verses 1 and 2), that even the angels of God celebrate over one sinner who repents.
Takeaway: In the ancient Middle East, the betrothed often sewed her dowry coins into her headdress (Jeremias, Parables of the Jesus, p.134). Perhaps then, this woman’s frantic search was spurred by more than the loss of income but by its sentimental value. Regardless, even one lost coin mattered, as does each of us to God. And thus, this parable, paired with the preceding parable of the lost sheep, illustrates why Jesus welcomed sinners like you and me into the fold. Moreover, he not only invites us but pursues us. He knocks on our door, seeking to come in and sup with us: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
So what’s our takeaway from hearing this good news? First, his sacrificial death verifies that we are priceless to him and his Father and that they will go to great lengths to find us in our lostness. Secondly, while he pursues us (initiates), we must respond and open the door of our hearts, relying on the Holy Spirit to pry open our recalcitrant hearts to make room for Christ to dine with us. Lastly, once we welcome Jesus into our lives, we invite others to come and see the One who “found” us in our “lostness” and celebrate his goodness. It’s a one-of-a-kind invitation and celebration.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you and your Son for going to unfathomable lengths of love and sacrifice to find us in our lostness and dine with us to celebrate our adoption into your family. So would you please help us to pay it forward and extend the invitation to the least, the last, and the lost like we once were? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling