Summary: the parable of the woman and the lost coin

September 30, 2001 Luke 15:8-10

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Have any of you ever seen the traveler’s antique show - where they go on the road and have people get their antiques priced? I have never collected antiques, but I have been collecting sports cards for years. And I can tell you one thing, just because a book says a card is worth a certain price, it doesn’t mean that it is. I’ve come to the realization that a card, an antique, or anything for that matter, is only worth as much as someone will give you for it. It all depends on supply and demand.

In the parable for today, a woman loses a “silver coin.” The literal term for this is a “drachma.” I wanted to try and figure how much this was actually worth - but there were no other instances of it being used in the New Testament. One commentator said it was worth a fraction of a penny. Another 18 or 19 cents. Another said you could buy a portion of a sheep and then in another place said you could buy an ox with one. Then I got to thinking about why there was this discrepancy in the price, and I figured it out, supply and demand. The price of a drachma all depended upon the market at the time. So when asked the question, “how much is a dirty drachma worth?”, the answer is, “it depends”.

How Much is a Dirty Drachma Worth?

The drachma in the parable is representative of humans. It’s rather fitting isn’t it? For there’s a wide variety of opinions as to how much we are worth. And there’s a wide variety of opinions as to what our worth is based on. In our world a guy who can shoot a ball through a hoop is considered worth millions of dollars, but a gal who can bring a child up in a proper manner is only worth minimum wage. In the dating world a gal who has pretty eyes is thought of as a better date then I gal who can cook a good meal. This debate goes on in a spiritual way as well. Robert Schuller and other so-called biblical scholars will claim that we are worth great value because we are made in the image of God. But God’s Word says otherwise. It says in Romans 3: 12, All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” We lost the image of God and became worthless. According to God’s Word then, if a drachma represents us as sinners, then I would assume that the drachma is not worth a lot of money in and of itself.

However, this drachma seems to represent more than just your run-of-the-mill sinful human. If you look at the context, the Pharisees and teachers of the law were complaining that Jesus was eating with “sinners”. Who were these “sinners”? If you look at the parables, they would appear to be Jews who had seemingly fallen from the faith. This is a very feasible explanation. For God warns in His Word that you can fall from faith. Paul said Galatians 5:4, that You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Even though Jesus promised that no one can snatch his children out of his hand in John 10, he didn’t say that we couldn’t fall out of his hand. For example, there was a terrorist who had taken refuge in Palestine for years. The United States couldn’t get him by going into Palestine, so instead, they lured him out of the country. Once he left the country they were able to arrest him. That seems to be what happened here. This drachma was worse than a run of the mill sinner - it was a runaway unbeliever fallen from the faith.

Now the woman has a choice. Either she can just leave the drachma behind, or she can go and look for it. It all depends on what her attitude is toward the dirty drachma, “how much is it worth to her?” Several years ago was cleaning out our basement, when I accidentally dropped a box that had an old ceramic Christmas tree in it - you know, and one of those ones that has a light inside of it which then shines through the multicolored bulbs on the tree? I didn’t know how much damage was done to the tree, and I just put it back on the shelf. About seven months later, I found out, the hard way. After my wife unwrapped the tree to display it at Christmas time, she found a big crack right down the middle of the tree. Whereas I thought to myself, “no big deal, it’s just an old tree.” She told me, “this is a family heirloom, it’s been in our family for years.” Even though the tree was worthless to me, it meant a lot to her.

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