Jesus and Women: The Story of the Lost Coin

Jesus and Women: The Story of the Lost Coin

Jesus and Women: The Story of the Lost Coin.

“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin!‘ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:8-10).

Jesus loved to tell stories in which women played an important role. It highlighted the importance of their presence in the culture, and it revealed that women had a legitimate place to play in God’s narrative in the world.  An important background fact to this story is that women in a Palestinian village during that time were often given ten silver coins as a wedding gift, their dowry. Each coin, a drachma, was worth a day’s wage. The coins were often worn in a necklace, representing the fact that she was married. So the coin necklace was similar to a wedding ring nowadays. These coins were considered very valuable for three reasons: for monetary value, since cash was a rare commodity to villagers; for sentimental value, because the coins represent her marriage; and for beauty, since any missing coins would destroy the attractive appearance of the necklace. So, this lost coin in the story was no doubt a distressing event for the woman. Any woman in this predicament would certainly look high and low for that coin. She would light a lantern, bring out the broom, and search diligently, if not frantically, until the coin was found. She would naturally rejoice when she found the coin, and invite all her friends and neighbors to join in the celebration.

The woman in this parable is a metaphor for God. It would have been controversial to picture God as a woman, especially around the religious leaders. Upon hearing this little story, the Pharisees would have gone on a tirade. God represented by a woman? Outrageous! Evidently the scholars of Torah forgot about Isaiah 49:13-16. The great prophet Isaiah compared the Lord to a mother who would never forget her nursing child. The Lord comforted the people and had compassion on them like a nursing mother who would never desert her child. Isaiah is saying that God loves Israel like a mother loves the child she has borne. Jesus’ story would have offended the sensibilities of these scholars, even though there is clear Scriptural precedence for the comparison. At a later time, Jesus would lament over Jerusalem and compare Himself to a mother hen who wants desperately to gather her chicks around her.

Just as the woman would never give up searching for that lost coin, God will refuse to give up His search for the lost soul, the person who for whatever reason is lost from the sheepfold of faith. Just as the woman never lost ownership of the coin even when lost, God will continue to claim ownership of the lost soul, even in the predicament of being estranged from Him.

Just as each coin bears an imprint, an image, so each person, each sinner bears the imprint of God’s image. God will never give up his search for anyone who is made in God’s likeness but has wandered away. Every one of the lost sinners would be of incalculable value, and would be beyond priceless in God’s eyes.

Once again, as in the story of the lost sheep, the climax of the story involves joy. When God finds the lost sinner, He rejoices in heaven, and He shares that joy with all the angels that surround Him. Lost and found. Unfettered and abundant joy. Jesus wishes that the Pharisees could share in that unbounded joy.