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Lost Coin

Parables  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:16
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20180218 Lost Coin Proverbs 30:5-6 (Opening) 5  Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6  Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. Introduction This has been a challenging winter, weather-wise. I’ve come to expect snow and wind in winter here in Maine. But this year we had multiple thaws and freezes with rain and freezing rain, and the river even flooded. I’m not used to that kind of weather in the winter. Weather people blame La Niña, the cooling of the water in the Pacific Ocean. Because of all the thawing and freezing and rain, my driveway has been covered in ice. In some places the ice looked like it was about two or three inches thick. We finally were able to get out and put sand on the driveway, but until a few days ago, it was somewhat treacherous. And it’s not just the driveway. When Jonathan plows our driveway, he pushes the snow back across the lawn, because we all know how much snow we can get in a good Maine winter. If you don’t push it that far, you have no place to put the next ten-inch snowfall, and then you end up with a path and not a driveway. Because of the way the driveway is plowed, the entire front yard was a skating rink. We had another heavy snow storm a week and a half ago on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Another ten inches. That Thursday morning, Jonathan made his trek to our house to plow us out, and I went outside to clean off the cars and move them so he could clear the entire driveway and yard. Before I went out, I put on my ice cleats on my boots because I knew the yard was icy, and I could see Jonathan wasn’t getting much traction when he was trying to push the snow. After Jonathan finished plowing, I moved the cars back. First, I moved our Honda, what I call my “sissy, city car”, because it really doesn’t like to drive in the snow or cold. I got out, locked the car, and walked to the Subaru, and noticed I was missing one of my ice cleats. I gingerly walked to the Subaru, parked it in the driveway, and locked it. That’s when I couldn’t find the keys to the Honda. I knew I locked it, so the keys weren’t in the Honda. I unlocked the Subaru and looked on the floor, beside the seat, everywhere the keys could have fallen when I moved it. Nothing. So, I gingerly retraced my steps back to where the Subaru had been parked. I didn’t see the keys anywhere, and there were no suspect holes in the snow where my keys could have fallen. So, I worked my way back to the door, went inside, and enlisted Marie’s help in the search. I moved the Subaru and we looked under where it was parked. Nothing. Marie searched inside the Subaru, under the seats, even in places where it didn’t make sense that the keys would be, and still nothing. I retraced my steps again to where the Subaru had been parked, and shoveled the snow around, looking in the snow for the lost keys. Still nothing. Then I noticed my lost ice cleat lying in the driveway. One down and one to go. As we were about to give up, I was walking back to the house and checked my pockets one more time. Let me stop here and say that, if you know me, you know I’m a little bit OCD. I do things the same way most of the time. I always hang my keys up when I go in the house, I always hang my keys on my belt loop when I’m not dressed up. And when I have both sets of keys, I always keep them in the same pocket of my coat. Not this time. Have you ever noticed when you say “To make a long story short…” it’s already too late? Well, to make a long story short, I found my keys in my coat pocket that I don’t normally put my keys in. I had put the Honda keys in the wrong pocket and didn’t think to look there when I was searching, because I don’t put the keys in that pocket. Why would I look there? Have you ever lost anything? I tend to put things in a safe place where I won’t lose them, and then forget where that safe place is. We’re always losing things. I think the thing most often lost is a single sock. You never lose a pair of socks, you only lose one. I guess as humans, we’re doomed to lose things and spend an inordinate amount of time looking for them. The Context Last time we met, we started reading through Luke chapter 15. Luke 15 has three parables in it, and they’re all related, all connected to the same context, but each one tells us something different; each one reveals something different about the nature of God and how He cares for us. Lets review the context of why Jesus is telling these three parables. Luke 15:1-2 1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” The Pharisees were bothered by the fact that Jesus was surrounded by these sinners, and that He didn’t seem to be concerned about it. The Pharisees were the strictest sect of Judaism. The word Pharisee is the Ancient Greek version of the Hebrew word for “separate”. The Pharisees were well known for isolating themselves from anything and everything they considered evil or sinful, and sinful people were an obvious thing to separate themselves from. Since they considered Jesus to be just another traveling rabbi, the Pharisees expected that He would follow at least some of their teachings and separate Himself from sinful people to remain ceremonially clean. Jesus obviously had other ideas. The Pharisees complaint wasn’t unusual, or unexpected. When Jesus was calling His disciples to Him, He called Levi, also known as Matthew, who was a tax collector. This didn’t make the Pharisees happy, and got them to grumbling and complaining. Luke 5:30-31 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Jesus’ response was simple: sick people need a doctor. Sinners need a savior. That’s why He was here, and that’s what He was doing. He was preaching repentance and salvation. The Pharisees felt they were righteous, so they didn’t need to repent. They just needed to stay away from people who were sinners, so they could stay ceremonially clean, so God would be happy with them. The Story In reply to the Pharisees question, Jesus told three parables. The first parable was about a shepherd who owned 100 sheep, and one wandered off. His second parable, the one we’re looking at today, was similar, but different. Luke 15:8 8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? Luke uses a different word for coins here than anywhere else in the New Testament. The coins in this parable are Greek drachmas. The drachma and the denarius were basically equal, both were the equivalent of one day’s pay for a skilled laborer, the drachma was Greek, and the denarius was Roman. Given the description of the woman’s circumstances, 10 days pay would be considered a large sum of money, maybe around a thousand dollars or so for us today. For some reason, this woman decides to check on her coins, so she takes them out and counts them, but she finds that one of them is missing. That would be like knowing you had 10 one hundred-dollar bills in your purse or wallet and counted only nine. I don’t know about you, but I’d be upset if I was the one counting. The woman must have realized she hadn’t been out of the house since the last time she knew she had ten coins, so she searched her house. The word picture we get from Jesus’ parable is that her house isn’t very large, and that she’s probably rather poor. Most houses in the country were small, one-room cottages, with very small windows, and a hard-packed dirt floor. Because of the lack of windows, the woman would have to light a lamp to see details of what may be on the floor of her cottage or in the dirt piles she swept up. Unlike the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, this lamp is actually what we would think of as a lamp during the first century; a small, clay oil lamp with a handle and a wick to burn the oil. It may have looked something like this. Lamp Knowing that the floor was packed dirt, it may seem odd that she would sweep the floor, but there would always be loose dirt on the floor, and that would have concealed the coin if it had fallen into the dirt. The best option would have been to sweep the floor and search very carefully in the loose dirt for the lost coin. Luke 15:9 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ She finds the lost coin, and she’s so excited that she brings all her friends together to celebrate. I’d be excited, too, knowing that I found that hundred-dollar bill I’d lost! That’s a big deal! Then Jesus finishes the parable. Luke 15:10 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Again, the twist in this parable is the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, just like in the parable of the Lost Sheep. The Pharisees would have expected joy in heaven over their righteousness, because they knew they were righteous and were doing everything right according to the Law of Moses. But sinners? What’s there to rejoice about, especially in heaven? They’re unrighteous now and would stay that way; that’s just the way they are. The Application I guess the big question is, why did Jesus tell this parable after already telling the parable of the Lost Sheep? It’s the same basic storyline, why repeat it? Well, the story is similar, but there are differences. The first difference we see between the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin is the main character. The first is a shepherd, a man, and the second is a woman, probably a housewife. Shepherds were looked down on because of the dirtiness of the occupation. Housewives, or “stay-at-home moms” are still looked down on because people think they don’t contribute to society. How many women have been asked “Do you work, or just stay at home with the kids”? Like that’s not work. If we look at the parables allegorically, the main character in the parable of the Lost Sheep would be Jesus, the Good Shepherd. But who would the woman in the parable of the Lost Coin be? Who is this woman who sweeps the house and diligently searches for the lost coin? One possible answer is the Church. The Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is the one who seeks diligently for the lost coin. In John’s last letter, the prophecy he received from Jesus, John writes: Revelation 22:17 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. The Bride, being the Church, the Bride of Christ, in unison with the Spirit, call people to come. To me, this sounds like the Church searching for the lost, calling out to them to bring them into the fold, to mix the two parables. Jesus told His disciples they were to be like Him, to seek the lost and bring them to Him for salvation. In the end of Mark’s Gospel, He speaks very clearly about that before He ascends into heaven. Mark 16:15-16 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. To proclaim the gospel to someone, you need to find them to speak to them. Sometimes the lost people we are looking for are hidden, sometimes they are buried in the dirt of sin. But just like Jesus, who was looked down on by the Pharisees for eating with sinners, we need to go to sinners to find them where they are. Most of them won’t come to us. To find the coin, the woman probably had to get down on her hands and knees and sift through the dirt she had swept up, but she also had to make sure the light was shining where she was looking, so she could see the value of the coin. We tend to devalue people who are lost, because we see their sin, we don’t see them as a person. All we see is the dirt that the coin is in. We need to look more closely; we need to look with the eyes of Jesus, the Light of the world, when we look at those people who are lost. That way we can see how valuable they are to Him. In another of Jesus’ parables, He talks about finding people to fill the Master’s banquet. Luke 14:23 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. After many people chose not to come to the banquet, the Master sent His servants out to basically the back woods, the middle of nowhere, to find people to bring to His banquet. That’s what missionaries do all the time. They go out and find people to bring to Jesus. And guess what? We’re all missionaries! We need to be actively seeking the lost coin and shining His light so we can find them. Another difference between the two parables is the thing that is lost. In the first parable, the thing lost is a sheep, and in the second a coin. Sheep have a mind of their own, and can wander off, but coins don’t just wander off on their own, even though sometimes it may seem like it. They are misplaced somehow; dropped off a table, or they fall out of a purse or pocket. They don’t control their situation, they are controlled in their situation. Sheep know when they are lost, a coin can’t know if it is lost or not. Since the coin can’t know that it’s lost, I think the coin for us could represent those who are outside the Church, those who aren’t now and never were in God’s family. We’re all His creation, but He wants us all to be His children. He wants that because He loves us. It’s like what John wrote. 1 John 3:1 1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Our job is to introduce people to God so they will know Him, and that He can know them as His children. Conclusion When we lose something of value, like say, your car keys, you search for them diligently until you find them. I knew I had another set of keys for my Honda, but still, I knew I had to find my set of keys. God sees each one of us as something of value. Us, here in this building, and us, each and every human. When we’re lost from His way, He’s going to send out searchers to find us and bring us back. Sometimes those searchers won’t be too obvious, and we’ll chose to ignore them. Sometimes they will be really obvious, like someone you used to go to church with, back when you used to go to church. For us, we need to remember that everyone has value to God. He wants everyone to be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. We need to be diligently searching, like the woman in Jesus’ parable, and obeying what Jesus said to do in Mark 16:15, going and proclaiming. That’s the equivalent of sweeping in the parable of the lost coin. We need to sweep everywhere we go, making sure that people know they have value, that God loves them, and that He wants them to repent and be saved from His wrath. Maybe you identify with the coin in today’s parable. Maybe you feel like you’re lost. There are people here today that can help you to be pulled out of the dirt. And we can rejoice with you and the with the angels of God when you become one of His children. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (Closing) 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 12
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