8“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When 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.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke has a second parable about the value of the lost – this is, however, more about the finder than about the lost item, as the parable about the lost lamb was more about the shepherd than about the lamb. Here is a woman – Luke often alternated stories about women and stories about men in his gospel. He uses more of the stories of women than any of the other gospels. I sometimes think perhaps Luke interviewed the women who knew Jesus, or perhaps their daughters, before writing his gospel. In this case the story is about an average woman; she had a home, which she kept clean herself – no servants or slaves. Ten silver coins was a fortune to her – perhaps an inheritance, or perhaps her weaving or sewing was especially fine and she had earned the coins over years with her hand-work. Jesus doesn’t tell us how she came by ten silver coins, but he does tell us she lost one of them. This would have been a tragedy! And so, she lights a lamp and she sweeps the house, looking carefully for the coin.
Someone came to the office on Monday, looking for her cell phone which she had lost on Sunday – since she had been to cantata rehearsal, she thought perhaps she lost it there. The first time we looked she did not find it. But then, we went back and turned on the lights (lit a lamp) and there it was, pushed way back under a chair. This lady went home rejoicing! Perhaps she called someone to say, “I have found it!”
The woman who had lost the silver coin, when she found it, rejoiced! She even called in all her friends and neighbors to celebrate her having found the coin!
Jesus tells the meaning of the parable – there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, one person who finds relationship with God. Was the lost coin as large or shiny as the other nine? Perhaps not – or perhaps it was – that was not the point. The point Jesus made was that the woman went searching for that which was lost, and there was great rejoicing when it was found!
The Pharisees were criticizing Jesus for talking and eating with sinners and tax collectors. He was telling them that God rejoices when these come to him. Jesus came to seek the lost.