What is the meaning of the Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin (Luke 15:3-10) are the first two in a series of three. The third is the "lost son" or the "prodigal son." Just as in other cases, Jesus taught these...

July 01 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini D. M. Writer, Entrepreneur, IT Specialist
In a world that can appear uncaring and indifferent to us, this parable reveals a startling truth: God loves us so much that He Himself will come after us, in order to bring us to Him. We often talk about people seeking God; in reality, God is seeking us.

The soul that has given himself to Christ is more precious in His sight than the whole world. The Saviour would have passed through the agony of Calvary that one might be saved in His kingdom. He will never abandon one for whom He has died. Unless His followers choose to leave Him, He will hold them fast.

Read Luke 15:8, 9. This parable is found only in Luke. The lost coin could have one of two meanings. First, Judea during the time of Jesus was full of poor people, and in most homes one coin (drachma) could have been more than a day’s wage, barely enough to keep the family from starving. Second, as a mark of being married, some women wore a headdress made up of ten coins, a huge sum, saved over a long time in the case of poor families.

In either case, the loss was a serious matter. So, the woman, utterly broken and in deep grief, lights a lamp (the house perhaps had no windows or perhaps only a small window), picks up a broom, and turns the house upside down until she finds that coin. Her soul is filled with overflowing joy, and the overflow floods to all her friends.

The coin, though lying among dust and rubbish, is a piece of silver or gold still. Its owner seeks it because it is of value. So, every soul, however degraded by sin, is in God’s sight accounted precious. As the coin bears the image and superscription of the reigning power, so man at his creation bore the image and superscription of God; and though now marred and dim through the influence of sin, the traces of this inscription remain upon every soul.

In the parable the shepherd goes out to search for one sheep the very least that can be numbered. So if there had been but one lost soul, Christ would have died for that one.

The sheep that has strayed from the fold is the most helpless of all creatures. It must be sought for by the shepherd, for it cannot find its way back. So with the soul that has wandered away from God; he is as helpless as the lost sheep, and unless divine love had come to his rescue he could never find his way to God.

The shepherd who discovers that one of his sheep is missing does not look carelessly upon the flock that is safely housed, and say, "I have ninety and nine, and it will cost me too much trouble to go in search of the straying one. Let him come back, and I will open the door of the sheepfold, and let him in." No; no sooner does the sheep go astray than the shepherd is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock. When he is sure that one sheep is lost, he slumbers not. He leaves the ninety and nine with the fold, and goes in search of the straying sheep. The darker and more tempestuous the night and the more perilous the way, the greater is the shepherd's anxiety and the more earnest his search. He makes every effort to find that one lost sheep.

With what relief he hears in the distance its first faint cry. Following the sound, he climbs the steepest heights, he goes to the very edge of the precipice, at the risk of his own life. Thus he searches, while the cry, growing fainter, tells him that his sheep is ready to die. At last his effort is rewarded; the lost is found. Then he does not scold it because it has caused him so much trouble. He does not drive it with a whip. 

Thank God, He has presented to our imagination no picture of a sorrowful shepherd returning without the sheep. The parable does not speak of failure but of success and joy in the recovery. Here is the divine guarantee that not even one of the straying sheep of God's fold is overlooked, not one is left uncensored. Every one that will submit to be ransomed, Christ will rescue from the pit of corruption and from the briers of sin.

December 12 2018 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
Luke 15:4-32 is one parable with three parts, the lost sheep (also Matthew 18:12-14), the lost silver coin, and the lost son, three concepts from everyday life. To understand the parable, one must read the first verses, Luke 15:1-2. The Pharisees and scribes complained that Jesus was receiving sinners and even dining with them. This attitude led Jesus to give them this lesson, Luke 15:3.

Too often it is thought that Jesus was teaching eternal salvation, but it is instead about the restoration of something separated. The shepherd already owns all one hundred sheep, the woman owns all ten coins, and the father has two sons. They each lost one and did all to find it. The phrase “who need no repentance” does not mean anyone thought themselves as righteous, but it means they were the just ones or righteous ones, that is, they were not lost or had not gone astray. This is about bringing one back to the security and safety of where they belonged, the return to fellowship. 

But there is more to the parable that Jesus intended to convey. The whole purpose was about the issue of leadership. The initial words begin with “what man/woman” or a “certain man” or “which of you.” These indicate the members of the audience, whether disciples or Pharisees, were invited to imagine themselves in certain situations. Other examples of passages resembling this include the person asking for bread in the night Luke 11:5, one having an animal fallen into a pit Luke 14:5, one building a tower Luke 14:28, a king deciding whether to go to war or not Luke 14:31, and a master who has a servant Luke 17:7. So, at the giving of the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin, the Lord likewise targets these leaders, the Pharisees and scribes, Luke 15:3. He has them visualize themselves as the shepherd or the woman, that is, the owner. 

If these leaders had paid attention to Him, they would have realized that they had failed to care for what was entrusted to them. A lost sheep or lost coin is a great loss, and it reflects badly on the owner. In Matthew 23:15, Jesus indicated that the Pharisees and scribes, in attempting to make proselytes, were decimating the flock. They were the wicked, foolish shepherds spoken of by the Lord, Zechariah 11:15-16, Ezekiel 34:1-10. They must have understood what Jesus was saying about them. 

At the same time, the Pharisees and scribes could not fail to see that Jesus was the faithful and good Shepherd who is able to restore what is lost, Matthew 10:6, 15:24, Luke 19:10. 

The emphasis of this parable is not salvation of individuals, but the happiness and rejoicing that comes when something lost is recovered, rescued and restored. There is joy in heaven over the erring or straying sinner who repents but it takes the right kind of shepherd to bring that about. Jesus is that good shepherd, the rightful owner, John 10:11.

November 20 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining