Reading Time: 6 Minutes
In 1971, I met Rick on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I was there as a field exercise for one of my seminary classes. Rick was there because he was lost, hungry, addicted, and nearly homeless.
He was hungry, so we found a diner and a bowl of soup. That brief encounter of two strangers developed into a friendship. He actually lived in my dorm room for a month, until I could give him a ride back to his home.
What I didn’t know was that behind the scenes, God was using me to find a lost child of his. Similar to the parable of the Lost Coin, God was searching for Rick so that he could rescue him from his lost state.
When Jesus finished telling the parable of the Lost Sheep, he asked another probing question about being lost. He said, “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?” (Luke 15.8).
Everyone knows that a lost coin is literally lost to the owner. When it is lost, it could purchase no food, pay any bills, or assist the woman in any way.
In a similar way, my friend in New Orleans, was lost to God and himself. He didn’t have any purpose for his life beyond trying to find food, a place to sleep, and drugs to fuel his addiction.
Only when Rick was found by God could he see what potential God saw in him to send me on a search and rescue mission to Bourbon Street in 1971. What happened first is that Rick became a friend of Jesus. Later, he returned home, God gave him a wife and two children, as he served our country in the Army.
The parable goes from the “little” value of a coin to the “far greater” value of a human life that is restored to the purpose God has for it. Rick is one of millions of examples of that truth.
Jesus described the woman’s joy at finding the coin. He said, “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'” (Luke 15.9).
Many years ago on a Wednesday night, a mother thought she had lost her three year old girl. I can still remember the mom running around our church in a frantic search for her child, as my blood pressure shot up in panic.
For a frightening 20 minutes (It seemed like an eternity.) we searched in vain for the little girl with dread deepening every minute. Finally, an aunt let the mother know that she had picked up the girl from church, that they had mis-communicated, and that the girl had been safe all along.
Absolute joy flooded all of us, along with a fair amount of anger over the actions of the aunt. The church immediately put into place new procedures for how children were placed into the care of their parents or guardians.
Nevertheless, we all were full of joy and relief to find the child and to restore her to her mother.
Jesus described not only the joy of the woman and her friends, but also of the heavenly host. He said, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15.10).
When my friend Rick invited Jesus to be his Lord and Savior in 1971 New Orleans, we can be assured that heaven rejoiced. The rescue of the lost that began with the activity of Jesus in his ministry and my meager efforts resulted in a lost young man being found.
The parable of the Lost Coin is so similar to the parable of the Lost Sheep, that it often gets little notice. However, there are a few great points that are worth our consideration.
(1) The Role of Women – A woman is featured in the parable. Jesus elevated the status of women in his ministry. In an age when women had a very low status, this is worth noting.
Luke identified women, who accompanied the other followers of Jesus. He wrote, “The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources” (Luke 8.1-3).
(2) Unlimited Grace – This parable is one of four answers that Jesus gave to the criticism that the Pharisees lodged against him for eating with tax collectors and sinners.
You will recall, “The Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them'” (Luke 15.2).
The parable equated Jesus’ table fellowship with outcasts to be like that the woman who sought for a lost coin. The grace that Jesus demonstrated to sinners was the way that God searches for the lost.
Heaven’s rejoicing placed God’s stamp of approval on Jesus’ actions and located the grumbling complainers on the wrong side of God’s purpose and plan.
The message for people today is clear. If we are willing to be a “friend of sinners,” God is able to use us to find his lost children and bring them to the life he intends for all.
(3) Repentance – Jesus stated that the joy was over “one sinner who repents” (Luke 15.10).
We can’t go where God is and stay where we are. That phrase, by Henry Blackaby, sums up what repentance is all about. When we leave our “lost” state and follow Jesus, we discover that we have been “found.”
When my friend in New Orleans became a follower of Jesus, he flushed his drugs down the toilet where he was staying. That was a good picture of his repentance.
His so-called friends kicked him out of the house and that is why he stayed in my dorm room until I could get him home.
(4) Join God – The purpose of Jesus’ parables is to confront people and lead them to align their lives with God.
The first alignment of our lives should be to join God in his attitude toward people who are distant from God. God seeks them and rejoices when they are found.
Our second alignment should be to join God in his activity. Jesus welcomed sinners, ate with them, listened to their issues and brought them into a relationship with God. We can and do the same thing.
About This Blog
Klyne Snodgrass has devoted 12 years of study to produce the book, Stories With Intent. His book is recognized as the best book on the parables in print. I am indebted to Dr. Snodrass’ work that helps shape my articles.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church.