Jesus told three parables in response to the Pharisees and scribes grumbling at how He mingles with sinners. This second parable is called “The Parable of the Lost Coin.”
It is about a woman with ten coins who turned her house upside down in search of the one that was lost. She rejoiced over it when she found it. Jesus then concluded the parable with another declaration about the value of repentance: “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
There is no apparent parallel for this parable in the gospel accounts.
In response to the Pharisees’ slanders against Jesus’s familiarity with tax collectors and sinners (Luke 15:1-2), Jesus told them three parables.
- “The Parable of the Lost Sheep” (Luke 15:3-7)
- “The Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10)
- “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32)
The first parable He told them was, “The Parable of the Lost Sheep.” It demonstrates God’s attitude toward His people who have strayed from Him.
It was about a man who left his flock of ninety-nine sheep in search of the one that was lost. He rejoiced over it when he found it. Jesus concluded the parable with a declaration: “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
The second parable He told them also demonstrates God’s attitude toward His people who have strayed from His ways, and who have therefore broken fellowship with Him. It was, “The Parable of the Lost Coin.”
Jesus began it with another rhetorical question: Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
The expected answer to His rhetorical question is: None. Of course, any woman in this woman’s situation would diligently search until she found her lost coin.
The situation Jesus is describing seems to be of a widow woman, who has ten silver coins left to her by her husband. They represent what she has to live off of for the rest of her life. When one of these ten coins goes missing, she frantically turns her house upside down, lighting lamps, sweeping everything, and searching carefully for the missing tenth of her wealth.
When she found it, at long last, she rejoices. She invites her friends and neighbors together for a party. “Rejoice with me”, she says, “for I have found the coin which I had lost.”
Then Jesus delivers the point of this parable to the scribes and Pharisees, In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
The point of this parable is very similar to the point in the “Parable of the Lost Sheep”: heaven celebrates the repentance of God’s people.
It is a way of telling the Pharisees and scribes that they should be rejoicing instead of grumbling over their restored brothers of Israel who repented of their sins.
Once again, Jesus is represented by the woman searching for her lost coin. The lost coin represents every Israelite who is not in fellowship with God and His Messiah. The discovery of the lost coin represents how one sinner repents of his sinful life and is brought back into relational harmony with God.
The angels who are in God’s presence celebrate with joy every time one sinner repents of his ways and is restored to fellowship. Restoration of fellowship is what allows human joy to be made full (1 John 1:4). This is true both of fellowship with God, and from fellowship with God flows fellowship with others, since we cannot have fellowship with God without forgiving others as God forgives us (Matthew 6:14-15).
The point and the structure of this parable are both similar to the first parable in this passage. The point they share is that it is worth celebrating the restoration and return of a sinner who repents. In each case it is inferred that this speaks of one who is a part of Israel, who is God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).
Jesus then moves onto the third and final parable He told the Pharisees and scribes at this time.
It is “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32).
8 Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
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