What Is the Significance of the Parable of the Lost Coin?

Just as the woman cared for that one specific coin, so God cares for each one of us individually. He does not count the 99 and dismiss the one. He does not look at the coins and see nine, ignoring the one.

Published Nov 07, 2022
What Is the Significance of the Parable of the Lost Coin?

If we read through the gospels, we will quickly see that Jesus was very fond of teaching and was a master storyteller who used an old Jewish method for telling these stories, called parables.

Parables were often used to explain deep truths in simple ways, and Jesus uses them for the same purpose. The Oxford dictionary defines a parable as: “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.”

Why Did Jesus Use Parables?

In telling parables, Jesus, as the Oxford dictionary reminds us, revealed the rich truths of the kingdom by telling deep biblical principles in ways that were easy for all those who would listen to understand.

Jesus told parables regularly, and we see Jesus use many circumstances in his surrounding area to explain his principles or ideas. His stories often included coins, sheep, rich men, poor men, Samaritans, sons and fathers, wives, farmers, and mustard seeds.

The parables dealt with many different topics, such as the kingdom of heaven, loss, love, and wisdom.

The parable we are looking at today, however, is found in the Book of Luke, chapter 15. It is often seen as part of a collection of parables. Jesus opens his teaching by looking at the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

As tax collectors and sinners came near, Jesus was teaching them while the Pharisees muttered under their breaths. They were unhappy that Jesus was eating with sinners, that he associated with them.

And so, Jesus responds to their distaste by telling the following three stories, each one is slightly more progressive than the last. Each item that is lost is slightly more harrowing than the one before in Jewish culture.

Jesus begins by telling them about a shepherd who loses a sheep. This is a relatable story for them. He goes on to say, He has 100 sheep, but once he finds one missing, he leaves the 99 others in a safe open space, and then he goes to find the one.

When he finds the one, he calls his neighbors to celebrate with him. Jesus uses this story to tell those listening that the same is true in heaven. When a sinner repents, all of heaven rejoices.

Following the Parable of the Lost Coin, Jesus tells the Parable of the Prodigal Son, or “lost sons,” as Kenneth Bailey names it. This story reveals the heart of two sons. One son wishes the father dead and asks for his inheritance early, squandering it in a far-off land.

The other believes he is slaving for his father out of duty. It seems that neither son served the father out of love, but we only read of one coming to his senses and asking for forgiveness, joining him in the banquet celebrating.

Sandwiched between those parables, we read of the lost coin. The verses read:

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:8-10).

But how could a coin being lost represent something of a heavenly perspective?

Almost all parables are spoken in a way that they are relatable to both the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. I am sure all of us remember a time when we lost money.

Whether it was a note, a wallet, a bank card, or a coin like the woman in our story, this makes this parable relatable. We have all been there. We get that the woman would want to search her whole house, turning things upside down until it was found.

How Does This Apply to Us Today?

Even in today’s culture, we understand her anxiety as she searches under the table, beside the washing, and under the beds. We sympathize with her as we see her search the pockets of clothes and inside the coats, willing her to find this one coin.

But I am sure there are others who wonder why search for the coin when you have nine others? Why does this one coin matter so much to her?

Eventually, the coin is found. She needs to search no more; no doubt she is tired and relieved. You can almost sense the relief in the story.

However, Jesus goes on to tell us that the woman is not content to hide the secret of the lost and now-found coin, but she goes out into the street, and she invites her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her as her coin has now been found.

The story ends with Jesus declaring that the same rejoicing is found in heaven when one sinner repents.

Jesus is telling this story to the tax collector and the sinner, and to them, he is saying no matter how many religious leaders there are, you are also valuable to God.

God will diligently seek you. He will spend money on oil to light the lamp and dust and turn over every item until you have been found. But when you are found, he will rejoice in heaven.

But Jesus is also addressing this story to the religious leader. I believe He is wanting them to know how valuable the lost coin or person is to himself.

Sinners are not far off from God and forgotten in an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality, but rather God spends the time and effort looking for them, drawing them to himself, and welcoming them with a celebration when they come home.

The Life Application Study Bible tells us that these coins were possibly connected to the women’s bridal jewelry, containing 10 silver coins as a gift from her groom. This piece was worn by women on their wedding day.

But here we read no mention of a husband, not to say there isn’t one, but no mention is made. It is no surprise that she desired to find it as it held such great value.

It wasn’t enough for the woman to know she had nine coins and ignore the other; she wanted the last one returned to her, and quickly.

Just as she cared for that one specific coin, so God cares for each one of us individually. He does not count the 99 and dismiss the one. He does not look at the coins and see nine, ignoring the one.

He does not look to the sons and think, I have one son left, no, rather he awaits the return of the son, fattening the calf believing in his return, and he actively goes to look for the coin and the sheep.

It is a beautiful reminder today that God loves you so deeply that he would go to the ends of the earth for you. That he would sweep the floors, light the lamps and search diligently to find you. When you return, he will celebrate with rejoicing in heaven because of you.

Friend, what a reminder of how much God values you and loves you.

What Does This Mean?

I think the most interesting thing here is that none of these possessions or people knew they were lost, except the younger son. Yet, God goes looking for them anyways because He knew.

I hope you know the love of God today, but if not, please connect with a local church that would love to introduce you to a God who would search for you, even when you have no idea, like our coin, sheep, and elder brother, that you are even lost.

For further reading:

What Were the Parables of Jesus?

Why Didn’t the Disciples Understand Some of the Parables of Jesus?

Did Paul Teach That 'Money Is the Root of All Evil'?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Jun

SWN authorMichelle Treacy is a Christian writer, a wife to Gerald, and a busy mother of three, Emily, Ava Rose, and Matthew. Finding time to write is not always easy. However, Michelle’s desire to write about Jesus, and passion to teach is what motivates her. Michelle writes on Instagram, Michelle_Treacy_, and WordPress at Thoughts From My Bible. If you meet her in person, you will likely find her with two things in hand, a good Christian book and a cup of tea!


Christianity / Life / Bible / What Is the Significance of the Parable of the Lost Coin?