“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
Have you ever lost something important? Have you had that feeling of reaching for your wallet or brand new phone and finding it isn’t where it is supposed to be? Maybe you suddenly noticed the stone in your wedding ring is gone! Remember your relief when the item was found? If so, you have some insight into what the woman in Luke 15 experienced.
The Pharisees and Scribes saw Jesus with “tax collectors and sinners” and criticized Him for associating and eating with them. Jesus shared the story of the woman and the missing coin as the second of three parables to make clear that He “has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The silver coin in this story was worth about a day’s wages for a laborer. During this time period, a woman commonly wore jewelry embedded with coins to signify that she was married.
Threatened with the embarrassment of its loss, this woman used every available means to find it, including lighting a lamp in her windowless home and sweeping what was probably a dirt floor. She rejoiced greatly, calling together all the ladies she knew to help her celebrate when it was returned to its rightful place, admitting it was “the coin that I lost.”
In the same way, God seeks each of us. We were lost and separated from Him because of sin. Despite our worldly value, we represent something special to Him. As the coin was stamped with an image, we possess the image of God. Useless and out of circulation, He uses every means available to recover us and return us to a place of usefulness in His kingdom work.
Jesus shares some tender insight when He describes “joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” in Luke 15:10. Those listening would have understood this as a direct reference to God Himself. Angels in the presence of God witness His rejoicing and exuberant joy over each sinner returned to a relationship with Him. Jesus wanted these religious leaders to see the divine initiative and depth of longing for our restoration in contrast with their complete lack of compassion.
What depth of love and compassion sent our Savior to the cross in a divine search and rescue operation! Ephesians 3:19 says, “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Restored by His grace, His goal for our lives is that we begin to see others the way He sees them. Our tendency is selfish interest, but a test of spiritual maturity is how much we identify with Jesus’ interest in seeing others made right with God. A hymn written by Frederick M. Lehman says it well: “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win; His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin.”