Today’s Thought: Do you realize how much God misses you?
But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him…. “[L]et us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ (Luke 15:20, 23-24)
In Chapter 15, Luke records not one, but three parables told by Jesus in an attempt to convey just how very much we are loved by the Father. While most of us are familiar with the story of the prodigal son, we may not be nearly as acquainted with the two immediately preceding stories: the lost sheep and the lost coin. Taken together, these parables form an image of God whose love for us is almost beyond comprehension.
In more than one instance, Luke records the parables of Jesus in parallel form: Two parables will have the same structure and message, but one will be from a male perspective while the other is from a female perspective. Such is the case with The Parable of the Lost Sheep and The Parable of the Lost Coin. [Interesting side note: Women are mentioned more often in Luke than any other gospel, and Luke gives women much more significant roles.]
I’ve placed the two parables side-by-side below. Check out the similarities.
|The Lost Sheep||The Lost Coin|
|“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” v4
When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. v5
He calls together his friends and neighbors… “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” v6
[Jesus concludes,] “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.” v7
|“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?” v8
When she has found it… v9
…she calls together her friends and neighbors… “Rejoice with me, for I have found my coin that was lost.” v9
[Jesus concludes,] “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” v10
The audience here is important to note: Jesus tells both of these parables, as well as the parable of the prodigal son (another about the lost and found), to a crowd of tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, and scribes. The latter two groups are questioning why Jesus would associate with sinners. This was a society where it was important to keep yourself “clean” and hanging out with tax collectors and sinners wasn’t the way to do that. Jesus responds by telling the parables.
In both instances, there is a loss of one out of many—a seemingly insignificant loss from the perspective of some, similar to how the Pharisees seem to believe certain parts of humanity can just be written off. Who will miss them anyway? Jesus says that all are important to the Father; the one is just as important as the larger collective group, and he will never give up looking for the one no matter how many are currently in the fold. God is so excited to find every last one of us that he calls for a celebration (and asks the rest of us to join him) whenever the lost are found.
And, like the father of the prodigal son, God watches for us and has compassion for us even when we are still far off. God sees us because he never stopped looking for us. God runs to us with the love of a parent whose child has been long absent… a child who has been missing from home and table… a child who has finally returned. Rejoice with me!
Tuesday’s Truth: “[God] never departs from us, but yet, only with difficulties do we return to [God].” ― Saint Augustine, Confessions