I am forever loosing things. I often put things away only to forget where I’ve put them, effectively making them lost! I can’t count the times I’ve searched high and low for an item that’s been misplaced. Depending on the item, when I finally find what I am looking for I experience a range of emotions: anything from relief to sheer joy. If what I have lost something I just “need” then I am generally just happy and relieved to have found it. However, if the item is something of great value to me then I am much more likely to be extremely joyous. In the two parables we will consider today the “lost things” are of great value, as we shall see. And their recovery brings a joyous response from their parabolic-owners, symbolic of God’s joy in our redemption through Christ Jesus.
Luke 15:1-3 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
Three parables stand together in this chapter, though we will only look at the first two today. The occasion of all, however, is one and the same—the murmuring of scribes and Pharisees against the Savior, who would eat with sinners.
Luke 15:4-7 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The lost sheep is an emblem of a careless, thoughtless sinner, one who follows the corrupt desires of his own heart, without ever reflecting upon his behavior, or considering what end result his unholy, ungodly life will lead to. No creature strays more easily than a sheep; none is more heedless, and none so incapable of finding its way back to the flock. When it has gone astray it will bleat for the flock, and still amble on along in an opposite direction to where the flock is. No creature is more defenseless than a sheep, and more exposed to be destroyed by predators. Even the fowls of the air seek their destruction. Ravens have often been observed attempt to destroy lambs by pecking out their eyes and when they have succeeded, as the animal does not see where it is going, it soon falls as easy prey to its destroyer. 1 Peter 5:8 says Satan is ever going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. In order to succeed, he blinds the understanding of sinners, and then easily ensnares them and sends them tumbling into the pit of hell.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
The shepherd here is representative of our Lord; He is:
- The good Shepherd, Joh 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
- The great Shepherd, Heb 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
- The chief Shepherd, 1Pe 5:4. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
And here we see how the shepherd will pursue the sheep, no matter how widely it has strayed, and when he has found the sheep, will rejoice over it. The joy here overflows to all of Heaven; even the angels are filled with this overwhelming emotion. The finding of even one, every one, of the lost flock – the repentance, redemption, and salvation of one lost soul being the illustration – brings glory to Jesus, the Shepard, which brings an unspeakable, intense, exuberant happiness to Him and all of His creation. Every single one is of equal value to Him and that value is high.
Luke 15:8-10 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? (9) And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. (10) Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Luke 15:8- pieces: “Drachma, here translated a piece of silver, is 1/8 ounce. In the mid 1800s it was noted that the coin was worth about fifteen cents; silver is about $20/ounce making one coin equal to about $2.50 today.
The probable interpretation is that the ten drachmas were the ten coins worn as a frontlet by the women of the East. This frontlet was given by the bridegroom to the bride at the time of marriage, and like the ring of Western life, it was invested with a kind of sanctity. It must be worn on all public occasions, and guarded with a jealous, sacred care; for should one of its pieces be lost, it would be regarded as an indication that the possessor had not only been careless, but also that she had been unfaithful to her marriage vow. Throwing, then, this light of Eastern custom upon the parable, how vivid and lifelike it becomes! With what intense eagerness would she seek for the missing coin! Lighting her lamp-for the house would be but dimly lighted with its open door and its small unglazed window-how carefully and almost tremblingly she would peer along its shelves, and sweep out the corners of her few rooms! And how great would be her joy as she saw it glistening in the dust! Her whole soul would go out after it, as if it were a living, sentient thing. She would clasp it in her hand, and even press it to her lips; for has it not taken a heavy care and sorrow from her heart? That one coin rising from the dust has been to her like the rising of another sun, filling her home with light and her life with melody; and what wonder that she hastens to communicate her joy, as, standing by her door, after the eastern wont, she holds up the missing treasure, and calls on her neighbors and friends to rejoice with her.
The drachma that was lost is also a very expressive emblem of a sinner who is estranged from God, and enslaved to habits of iniquity. The longer a piece of money is lost, the less probability is there of its being again found; as it may not only lose its color, and not be easily observed, but will continue to be more and more covered with dust and dirt: or its value may be vastly lessened by being so trampled on that a part of the substance, together with the image and superscription, may be worn off. So the sinner sinks deeper and deeper into the impurities of sin, loses even his character among men, and gets the image and superscription of his Maker defaced from his heart. He who wishes to find the image of God, which he has lost by sin, must attend to that word which will be a lantern to his steps, and receive that Spirit which is a light to the soul, to convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He must sweep the house – put away the evil of his doings; and seek diligently – use every means of grace, and cry incessantly to God, till he restore to him the light of his countenance.
The piece of silver and the sheep were both of great value to the owner and here lies the point in the analogies: A soul, an individual creature, an atom in God’s universe, may seem to be in itself a very insignificant thing, but it is enormous to God. How great, how dear to God, no man can adequately judge, because no man is a creator, and no man is a redeemer. One needs absolutely to have created a thing, and absolutely to have redeemed a thing, before you can calculate what its worth would be to Him who had done so with such a large price paid in doing.