As we read through Luke each week there will be two devotions focusing on particular passages. Click here to read past devotions. **This week, Spring Break, we will have only one devotion.
Focus Point: Coins (Luke 15:8-10)
Growing up, a sermon I heard described the woman’s 10 coins as a part of a wedding headdress. Symbolic like a wedding ring today. So I set out to find this story in my commentaries. The first six commentaries didn’t mention it. Finally, the old Barclay Commentary told the story.
But another commentary – do I own too many? – explained why most hadn’t mentioned it. The headdresses were typically much larger (40-50 coins) and only afforded by the wealthy (though they would be loaned to peasants). So it is unlikely the coins were a part of a wedding headdress. It is most probable these coins were the woman’s entire savings (Garland 615).
I searched endlessly because I wanted the parable to relate to me. I could understand a mad search for a wedding ring (I have lost and found mine… many times). For the ring, a celebration made sense. But not for a drachma. Sure, it is a day’s wage, I would look for the money… but the food and drink of celebration would cost more than the coin was worth!
Yet, part of the blessing in these parables is that they don’t make sense! Who throws a party that would cost more than the coin? Who leaves the ninety-nine on the hills to save one?! Who runs to the son who wished they were dead?! (Tidbits below has more explanation.)
Yet this is our celebration because the gospel doesn’t make sense. The Creator God, dropped everything, to find me.
Challenge for Today: That God dropped everyone for me is easier to accept, but this truth extends beyond me to others.
The woman’s need for a lamp reminds me of Haiti. A peasant cottage in Nazareth would have few, if any, tiny windows and the floors would have been dirt. The houses we built in Haiti are similar. They have a concrete floor, but few windows. A small door. No electricity – even if it did the power grid is unreliable. So with the sun shining, it is dark on the inside.
As we build the house, I long to help the people I encounter. Of course when I return home, my passion waxes and wanes. I often find myself focused inward – but the son calls me outward. Into the light of love. Because God’s desire for the lost never wanes.
Question: When we were lost, finding us was the priority. But now that we are found, what is the priority? Too often my answer is still finding me (in the sense of improving me). But what is God’s priority?
While the Pharisees wonder why Jesus welcomes sinners, our God is always moving to find the one on the outside. From the lost sheep to even the older brother. My priority must always be to join him.
- All three parables are linked by the opening verses, 15:1-2, and the Pharisees concern with Jesus “welcoming sinners.” The sheep, the coin, the son are sinners – the lost. Whether they are in the field, the house, a foreign land, the priority is finding what was lost. The sheep owner, the woman drop everything to search. In the same way, God dropped everything to find you.
- All three also reveal the celebration that takes place when a sinner repents (v7, 10, and v22-24). The celebration isn’t referenced but experienced in the final parable, which – via the older brother – brings the series back to the reaction of the Pharisees. Notice the Father leaves the party, the ninety-nine, to go to the older brother.
- Sheep – The lost sheep connects with the prophecy of Ezekiel 34: “My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them… For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.” (v6, 11)
- Will he not leave the Ninety-nine on the hills? – “In ‘real life’ a shepherd would not leave the flock since they could wander away, be attacked by predators, or be stolen in his absence; he would always first put them in a sheepfold or leave them with another shepherd” (Vinson 504). But all three of these parables make little sense. UNLESS finding the lost is the number one priority.
- Prodigal Son demands his inheritance while his father is still living… “The implication of ‘Father, I cannot wait for you to die’ underlies the request” (Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal, 36).
- The Prodigal Son (and the Woman’s coin) are only found in the Gospel of Luke.