1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8 “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? 9 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.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
If you ever get to Kansas City and have a little time on your hands, visit the Nelson Art Gallery. It has giant, whimsical shuttlecocks in the front lawn, as if some titan has been using the building for a net in a badminton game. But it is in the building where I would send you. Down in the basement, at least that is where they were there the last time I visited, is a collection of necklaces. These came from women in the ancient world, roughly around the time Jesus told this parable. They are dowry necklaces, beautiful jewelry into which coins have been worked. They were a gift from parents to a daughter who was getting married. It was sort of her insurance policy for the young woman, a reserve which she could use in extreme need. She would wear these coins, worked into this necklace every day.
In the second parable that Jesus tells, the woman has lost a coin. We must remember that coins were far more valuable in the ancient world. They did not have paper money nor checks. All wealth was held in coins. Some of them could be very valuable. But if the lost coin was one of these dowry coins, and I think it was, it would have had great emotional as well as monetary value to the woman. It was a gift from her parents on her wedding day. Losing this coin would be a little like losing the stone in your engagement ring.
She sweeps the house, and she searches diligently until she finds it. Then she rejoices. Jesus tells this parable right after the parable of the shepherd finding a lost sheep. If you notice one lost item, the sheep, is outside and the other, the lost coin is inside. Jesus is making a point here. Some folks who are inside the kingdom, inside the church can also be lost. Know and believe this. You are precious to God. He searches diligently for all his lost ones and He along with His angels rejoice every time you repent.