2018-1-28 The Recovery of the Lost Coin

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          January 28, 2018

“The Recovery of the Lost Coin”
Luke 15:8-10

We continue this week in our brief series about the parables of discovery—or recovery, as the case may be.  We continue to see either joy over the exceeding value of God’s reign and society discovered, or we see joy over the recovery of lost sinners.  Let’s look at this parable of the lost coin.  We shall see, as the parable unfolds, that the leading character recovers her coin—and we shall see what that tells us about God.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Jesus, with few words, sets the parable’s scene expertly.  A woman has ten coins, and loses one of them.  The coin is a Greek drachma (dracmh).  Its value is roughly equal to that of a Roman denarius—about one day’s wage for a common laborer.  We note that today’s federal minimum wage is seven dollars and twenty-five cents per hour.  If we assume an eight-hour workday for someone working for minimum wage, then we get fifty-eight dollars (pre-tax) earned during the workday.  Hence, to make the math easier, let’s say that this drachma is worth sixty dollars in today’s market.  The woman, then, has six hundred dollars in coin in the house, and loses sixty.  This represents a ten percent loss of what could be this woman’s entire liquid wealth.

Hence, she institutes a recovery operation.  Note the pains the woman takes to recover her lost coin.  She lights a lamp in order to illumine the house.  More light on a situation, either literally or figuratively, proves a great help.  She sweeps the house in order to clear dust and dirt off the coin should it be on the floor.  Many a home in those days—and in many days throughout human history—had a dirt or earthen floor, and an inside sweeping well may reveal things long-covered by the dust.  She otherwise seeks diligently for the coin insider her house—she likely looks on furniture tops, under any furniture, inside containers, and so forth.  After some time and effort expended (we are not told how much), the woman finds her lost coin.

Note the woman’s reaction, in view of finding the coin and shedding the ten-percent loss.  She calls together her friends and neighbors, and she invites them to rejoice with her at her find.  This woman does not keep her joy to herself, but she allows it to flow to others.  Note further that, in the same way, there is joy—transcendent, unshakable gladness and happiness—before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.  The real comparison in this parable occurs between the woman’s joy and God’s joy.  God’s joy in penitent sinners is like unto the woman’s joy in finding a lost coin.

There is joy before God’s angels over penitent sinners.  Hence, not only does God’s Heavenly host rejoice, but God Himself rejoices to a degree unfathomable to us.  This rejoicing comes over even one sinner who repents—who turns from sin and self and turns to God through Christ, and who receives from God’s good hand all that comes from being passed from death to life.

The following may better illustrate next week’s sermon, but the joy depicted in the illustration will help us today as well.  On Thursday night, at about ten-twenty, our son went to bring our dog into the basement for warmer overnight shelter.  On many a cold night Tom can dispense with the leash; he releases Cordelia from the tether, and then she runs immediately to the basement door and waits for him to open it.  Tom released as usual last night—but, either by distraction or by the night not being sufficiently cold, Cordelia bolted east out of our yard and in the general direction of Georgia Road.

We live about one-fourth of an air mile from Georgia Road—and commercial traffic was heavy that night.  Hence, I worried for the dog as Tom re-entered the house, put on his Tar Heels hooded sweatshirt, got the leash, and ran down our driveway to reclaim our dog before she reached Georgia Road.  I decided, as Tom worked his way down to the large field that was once the Otto Recreation Field, to walk around our property—hoping that Cordelia merely had given Tom the slip and would come to me.  I heard nothing of Cordelia.  In fact, all the other dogs in the neighborhood were unnaturally quiet—silent accomplices to their jail-breaking friend.  All I could hear was the traffic running up and down Georgia Road.

At about ten-forty I saw a wavering flashlight, heard breathing consistent with moderate exertion, and heard dog claws on concrete.  Seconds later I saw a happy sight: Tom had the dog on the leash, and both appeared happy to be coming home.  Both went directly to our basement, and after Tom put Cordelia into her crate, I got the rest of the story.  Tom ran down quickly to the field in hopes of intercepting our dog.  That failing, he ran back almost to our house, and then he realized he couldn’t hear anything for breathing so hard.  Then he stopped still at the southwestern edge of our property and listened.  He heard one quiet jingle of identification tag against dog collar, and that was enough.  After the dog decided to dig for some treasure, Tom went to her and affixed the leash.  Then we rejoiced in our recovery of the dog—and I rejoiced in his good work.

Our God is like that when we turn to sin to Him—only infinitely more.  He rejoices over us, and His host rejoices over us.  Let us, then, not only turn to Christ initially today, if that be the case, but let our lives being those of ongoing repentance and ongoing sense of His great joy in us.

AMEN.

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