Today we are going to have a look in Luke and at two of the three 'lost' parables that Jesus told. The first one is the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the next is the Parable of the Lost Coin. Tomorrow, we are going to finish by taking a look at the Parable of the Lost Son.
First of all, lets pay attention to the context of these parables, and why Jesus told them. There was a crowd of sinners and tax collectors gathering around Jesus to hear him speak. We then also find out that there are also some Pharisees standing nearby. Rather than getting close to Jesus and finding out what it is he has to say to them, it seems they would rather stand at a distance and pass judgement on those listening. They start to mutter 'This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.' Throughout the gospels, we see that the Pharisees divide people into two categories; the unclean and the righteous... and they want nothing to do with the unclean!
At this time, the Pharisees judgement on the sinners and the tax collectors brought Jesus to tell these three parables. The first is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. It isn't unusual for a sheep to go astray, they are dumb animals! In this parable, 99 are safe, however 1 has gone astray. Notice the concern of the shepherd. His concern is for the lost sheep, not for the 99. And when the shepherd finds the sheep, he is happy not angry.
And in the next parable, we see the woman who has lost her coin! This coin that the woman has lost refers to one that would be held with several others on a silver chain worn around her head as a mark of a married woman, and so would therefore make the loss all the more severely felt. Recently, I lost my wedding ring, and thankfully found it. But for the time that it was lost, nothing else mattered! All I could think was to find my wedding ring.
In both parables, the sheep and coin would have been hard to find! And so why does Jesus associate with sinners? Because God naturally wants to recover His things that are lost, just like us! One commentator put it like this: There is an instinct in us that prizes something all the more simply because it is lost. Your keys are never so precious to you as when you can't find them.