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Have you ever lost or misplaced something that was very important or meant a great deal to you? Naturally, we have all experienced this from time to time; whether it was our cellphone, wallet, or even our car keys, we have all felt that form of panic when something is missing. Furthermore, did you ever have a big celebration with friends when you found that missing cellphone or wallet? More than likely, that answer would be no, and like most of us, you felt a sigh of relief and then went about your day. Interestingly, Jesus posed a similar question to use as a teaching point for a crowd of people that had gathered around Him.
Among those who had gathered around Jesus were some disgruntled Pharisees’ and scribes saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” In response, Jesus speaks to the crowd saying, “What man among you, if he had a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost?” Jesus further shares, “Or what woman, if she had ten silver coins and lost one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” (Luke 15:4;8). In both cases, the person was willing to do whatever it took to find what was lost.
The silver coin of that era was called a drachma, and its value would be equivalent to 25-cents in U.S. currency. Now, when most people lose a quarter, more often their attitude is “so what.” However, if all you have to your name is a total of ten quarters, losing one becomes a big deal when something you want to buy costs $2.50. On the other hand, sheep carried great value since they were among the most used for animal sacrifices, and so to let one merely wander off would be like throwing money out of your car window while driving down the highway. So is Jesus teaching the crowd a lesson about the importance of taking care of their investments, that life is all about money? Not at all; instead, Jesus is teaching them about the love God has for them.
Jesus is the good shepherd who came to seek out the lost sheep in the world, the lost souls of people whom God loves and values greatly. It is a love so great that Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to find and restore the lost and return them to the fold of heaven. Jesus did this through His redeeming work on the cross at Calvary. Jesus concluded His parables by saying when the shepherd found his lost sheep, and when the woman found her lost coin, both celebrated with their neighbors in joy. Then He said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
Malcolm Tolbert (1970) best summarizes the Pharisees’ problem, which, in part, was the high esteem in which they held themselves. Tolbert writes:
“The Pharisees’ problem was not their immorality but their attitude toward their fellow man. Like so many good, religious people, they were hard, judgmental, unforgiving. Their contempt for persons who did not meet the standards was an important facet of their lack of humility before God. They failed to recognize their need of grace” (p. 124).
In the eyes of God, you are of great value, not in a monetary sense, but a great value to the heart of God. He loves you; He has sought you out, and He desires a personal relationship with you. It’s not about hardened religious practices that judge and condemn others as did the Pharisees’; it’s about a loving one-on-one relationship between you and God alone.
Tolbert, M. O. (1970). Luke. Clifton J. Allen (ed.), The Broadman Bible Commentary (Vol. 9). (pp. 1-187). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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