Summary: Parable of the Lost Coin
Have you ever lost your keys? What did you feel? Desperation? Panic? Fear? Stress? What did you do? If you’re like me, you probably tore the whole house apart. You may have stopped to think about the last place you laid them or saw them. You could interrogate the kids: “What have you done with daddy’s keys?” Maybe you run outside to gaze through the window of the car to see if you locked them in there. If you are still unable to locate them, you may grab a flashlight to look under the bed, the couch, the chair, the stove, the desk, the table, the refrigerator, and so on. You look in the vents, cabinets, drawers and elsewhere. You look everywhere. You retrace your steps, either physically or mentally.
What happens when you finally find them? There is usually a sense of relief, joy or happiness, or some combination thereof. You probably let out a big “whew!” or “whoopee!” You spend the rest of the day recounting to anyone who will listen about your adventures in finding your lost keys. At that moment in time, when you’re looking for the keys, there is nothing else on your mind. There is nothing that rivals the importance of finding those keys. You don’t answer the phone if it rings. You don’t stop to check the mail, unless you’re looking for you keys in the mailbox. It is an all-consuming activity.
Maybe you’ve never lost your keys. Maybe it was your wallet, an important document, a homework assignment, or a ball glove at a baseball game. Whenever we lose something important, we are driven to find it. Nothing will get in our way until that thing is back in our hands. And when it is back, we are happy. We celebrate with anyone who will listen to our tale of adventure.
Jesus told a story about a woman who lost a coin.
Read Luke 15:8-9.
This reminds me of the scene from It’s A Wonderful Life, when Uncle Billy loses the deposit. Show clip.
This short little story that Jesus told has always ignited my imagination. Jesus doesn’t tell us what the money was for. It could have been for food, rent, taxes, to give to the temple, or whatever. Does it really matter what it was for? The point is that it was obviously of considerable value to the woman, and it was gone.
This is how my mind has always pictured this scene:
I see this woman standing by her table counting her coins as she gently places them in a little pouch. She gets to the last coin and realizes “uh oh!” she’s missing one. She calmly empties the pouch, thinking she had miscounted. She’s still short a coin the second time. A look of panic appears on her face. She rearranges stuff on the table trying to find the missing coin. Nothing.
She rifles through draws and cabinets. She grabs her oil lamp and lights it. She grabs the broom. Dust is flying everywhere as she sweeps the broom across the floor. Nothing. She hits the floor on her hands and knees. She crawls around the floor looking under every piece of furniture. The neighbors hear the commotion from outside. She mutters to herself, “Where did that coin go? Where is it? This can’t be happening! Where is it? Where is it?”
I see her slumping back, pondering where it could have gone. She mentally retraces her steps. As she’s ready to breakdown and cry, giving up, she notices something shiny in the corner. It’s the coin. She whoops and hollers. The neighbors outside look puzzled about what could be going on inside the little house.
The woman bounces out of the house yelling, “I found it! I found it!”
The neighbors ask, “Found what? Your mind? Apparently you’ve lost it.”
“My coin!” the lady exclaims, “I lost it, but now I’ve found it.”
The neighbors are relieved that their friend hasn’t lost her mind. “That’s great,” they say.
What does all this say about our relationship with God?
Read Luke 15:10.
In Jesus’ day, this was a radical concept. The vision that most people had of God was a distant God. God was aloof. He didn’t mingle with or pursue humans. The thought of God stooping down to seek out a human was a totally foreign concept to the minds of the people who heard this story. The thought of a sinner crawling out of the slime pit of sin and toward God might have been accepted. But, the notion of God crawling after a filthy, rotten, stinking sinner was foreign, if not abhorrent.
The people to whom Jesus told this story didn’t think of themselves as sinners. They were the religious elite. They knew and followed all the religious regulations. They knew that God loved them more than anyone else, especially the skuzzy types of people Jesus hung around with.