Summary: This sermon looks at the Parable of the Lost Coin
The Lost Coin
When my son Luke was a toddler, my wife and I took him to the beach in Gulf Shores, AL. We had a wonderful time but finally check out day arrived. I was in the kitchen packing up all of the refrigerator items when I heard my wife cry out, “I can’t find my wedding ring?” Well, that started a search of the condo. We retraced her steps. We look all over the bathroom where she said she had set it down. We checked the bedside table and on the floor all around it and still it was not in sight. We then systematically began to take the condo apart, first the bedroom with moving the dresser and dismantling the bed, then the living room with removing every cushion on the coach and chairs and then lifting them up and searching under and behind them. We unpacked all of our clothes only to find nothing. As we searched without any progress, we became more and more frantic. Half an hour passed, then an hour, an hour and a half and at the end of the second hour, we started to talk about making an insurance claim. Regret and sorrow began to fill us. But then my wife realized there was one place we had not looked. We had brought all of Luke’s toys in a cardboard box. As we prepared to leave, we told him to put all of his toys back in the box. Giovanna and I ran over to it and turned it upside down, dumping everything out and in the bottom of the box, we saw it. We screamed out in joy and breathed the largest sigh of relief of our lives. Apparently, Luke had grabbed the ring off the bathroom counter all in an effort to help pack as we got ready to leave.
Have you been there, losing something of great value and worth? As Jesus continues responding to the Pharisees’ charge that He welcomes and eats with sinners and tax collectors, he does so with three parables. The Greek word for "welcomes" literally means to "receive as a friend." This was Jesus’ attitude toward those who were lost in sin, to befriend them and love them back to God, vastly different from the Pharisees’ view of such people. In Jesus’ day, to eat with someone was more than sharing a meal together. It was a convenantal experience, meaning that once you shared a meal with someone, you were bound to them in relationship. If they were ever in need of help, you had to come to their assistance. So the Pharisees were careful with who they broke bread with. They didn’t want to become unclean. But Jesus? He ate with anyone and everyone, including the worst of the worst in the Pharisees eyes, tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees sought to live pure and holy lives by following the letter of the Law. By Jesus’ time, they had become more critical of others who didn’t live like them or believe like them. They assumed an “us vs. them” mentality, calling those who disagreed with them “outsiders,” now including Jesus. But this is why Jesus came and for whom Jesus came. From the Pharisee’s perspective, Jesus was not seeking to live a pure and holy life because of who he associated with.
Now Jesus has been preaching for about a year and everywhere he goes, he draws a crowd. His teachings and healings only increased his fame and the size of his following. The Pharisees were threatened by Jesus’ growing popularity and influence and so they sought to discredit him by tricking him into contradicting the Law in his teaching, preaching or his actions. And when that didn’t work, they conspired to get rid of him altogether. Jesus responds to the charges of the Pharisees with three parables. Parables were the most common form of teaching in Jesus’ day among rabbis or teachers. A parable is a story set alongside a truth. Thus, all parables have one major truth they are meant to communicate. Parables engage the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, causing the hearer to say, "Wait a minute! That's not what normally happens!” Or “That person did what?" They cause hearers to think about its true meaning. The meaning of most parables is not obvious, and if we assume we know what Jesus is talking about, we’re probably missing the main point. Jesus’ parables drew from nature or common life like seeds and weeds, trees and fruit, land and landowners, and sheep and shepherds.
The first parable we looked at last week was the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Jesus shocks and even offends the Pharisees with the statement, “Suppose one of you has a 100 sheep and loses one...” Now Pharisees considered shepherds to be “sinners” because they roamed on people’s land without permission and the grass and water consumed by the sheep could never be repaid. Thus, it was a sinful and shameful profession. Jesus further challenges the Pharisees by saying it was the shepherd who lost the sheep. In a society where saving face is so important, this would have angered the Pharisees by implying that they haven’t been living up to their responsibility to care for all their sheep. Last week, we learned that the shepherd doesn’t blame the sheep but instead has compassion for it, so much so that it leaves the 99 with the other shepherds and goes to search for the one, placing himself in great danger.