Found It! Let’s Party! (Luke 15)

In yesterday’s devotional I confessed to the entire online world that I’ve had a lifelong habit of losing things, even some important things. So, in the spirit of our “Long Story Short” summer series about stories that Jesus told, let me tell one of my own as a set-up to understanding the first two of the three parables in Luke 15.

Now that I have a nice, new, shiny red bicycle that has become my best friend this summer, imagine that I sold my previous set of 10-year-old wheels for $250.  I put it on Craig’s list, met the person who wanted to buy it, insisted upon cash from the stranger, and then put the two hundred-dollar bills and the one fifty in my pants pocket … at least, that’s what I thought I did. But that evening at home, I went to get the money out of the pocket, but it wasn’t there. Where could it be? Did I lose it when I got a frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog? Or was it with the box of chocolates at the Russell Stover’s outlet? Maybe I dropped it when pulling the keys out of my pocket. Possibly it fell out at Dairy Queen or the Downsville General Store?

Taking a flashlight out and looking through the car and under the seats did not reveal it – thinking that maybe it fell out when I got stopped yet again by the Sheriff’s Department for not wearing my seatbelt. There is always a possibility in that scenario that I can’t find my driver’s license, registration or insurance card.

Finally, when throwing my clothes in the hamper at night, I feel something in my shirt pocket; and sure enough, there are the three bills. I’m so, so happy that I found the money that I decide right then and there that I’m going to have a party to celebrate with all my friends and neighbors. I will invite the folks from the neighborhood, all five of my sons and their attachments, the church family, my coaching and sports pals, my political buddies, as well as all my history geek friends from Antietam. So in the morning I call Leiter’s Fine Catering (because I’m a good Williamsporter and that’s who you call) and make the arrangements.

Does this make sense to you? Wouldn’t it have been cheaper if I had just never found the money and never had a party that would cost me multiple times more than the money I lost? This serves as a background to help you read these first two parables …

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

15:1 – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “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? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Think about it – the sheep guy is irresponsible, and the woman is a financial ditz. Who would risk 99% of his wealth to find the lost 1%, and who would spend more on a party than what was saved by finding the lost coin (a sum of money that was equal to about a day’s wage)?  The celebration is all out of proportion over the size of the recovered items. But the point of the stories is not to focus on the relief about what was found, but rather on the joy of that which was lost being found.

The parables emphasize the magnitude of God’s love and the joy of the product of salvation – a restored relationship and new reconciliation of a sinner and God. This never gets “old” with God, and that is an amazing thought to ponder. The Apostle John did just that when he penned these particularly beautiful words in 1 John 3 …

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Speaking of pondering, here are some questions for you (and remember that there is a discussion group meeting most Sundays at 11:00 for these and other questions) … Does this passage touch you deeply when you consider the scope of God’s love? How does this extensive love of God for lost sinners affect the way we view those around us in our world who do not have a relationship with Christ?

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

2 thoughts on “Found It! Let’s Party! (Luke 15)

  1. Yeah, this is all cool. But we only think of this as being “all out of proportion over the size of the recovered items” because we don’t live in their culture. Now I’ll take the opportunity here to step back from our modern culture that denigrates earlier culture and maybe I’ll denigrate our culture. (My goal isn’t to denigrate but enlighten).

    In that culture, in that day, people liked drama and suspense, just like we do. People today spend hours upon hours watching TV, playing on their cell phones, surfing the internet on their computer. So we too watch things that pass as “news” for hours solely to get our drama fix. We watch Dateline for news, and get dragged out hearing one side of the story and then maybe getting the other right at the end. We like the suspense.

    And we don’t only watch “serious news” which is often just entertainment in a news package, we watch countless hours of fictional investigative stuff. How many NCIS’s are produced? How many … I can’t even think of the name of these crime shows that spin off versions of their investigative programs?

    So while it is weird to us to celebrate, finding a lost coin … because we think “so what?” we spend our time with many TV shows that invent stories. I used to watch a TV program called “Chuck” with my wife. We also used to watch “Burn Notice” together as well as me just tuning in when she was watching other shows. We dropped cable for cost reasons and didn’t really get all that well aclimated to the new digital broadcast standard and so we kind of just stopped watching TV and so I didn’t see the last seasons of the show that I just mentioned that we watched together.

    So, if we don’t have professionally packaged entertainment and there are almost no books available, because the printing press wasn’t invented .. we would probably have keen interest in similar admittedly trite events.

    We today are just, if not more so, consumed by trite nonsense. We invite people … (hey my humorous side might here poke some fun at some Tristate Fellowship events … but that would be questionable for me to do in this context).

    At one point I was thinking of inviting you to join my wife and I to an Oriols game (what is wrong with me you might be thinking I can’t even spell the name of the team?) [I tried like five times to get it right] but isn’t that also evidence that I might be ” a financial ditz” [going to pay money to see that event and even considering inviting you] or maybe I could blame my wife for having a latent interest in that baseball team and my efforts to please her … all right this comment is long enough.

    So, I struggled in this post to give a setting that helps us better understand the background and context or what constitutes drama and a good story that humans like to hear. They didn’t have available books, newspapers, novels, radio, telephone, cars (to enable to go to places like baseball games, or restaurants, clubs, and the multitude of entertainment places) … they had to communicate with their neighbors, or listen to the wisdome (or folly) being cried out in the city squares or gates of the city.

    (I’m leaving a lot unsaid here.) (Catch up with you in a few days hence.)

    Blessings to all who try to serve God and seek Him. Sorry, I didn’t even touch on your questions. ☺
    Oops, I accidently closed the tab and thought I lost my comment. But now I found it! Just an hour or so ( I am guessing) of effort writing. So, if I lost a days wages I would probably find that worth sharing with a bunch of bored neighbors, who don’t have access to our modern contant trickle of entertainment. Chris Wiles also in the past year or so cited a book that I think I read decades ago called “Entertaining ourselves to Death” which dealt with how much TV we then watched.

    Take care Y’all.

  2. I have literally not watched a weekly program on TV since Love Boat and Remington Steele. And I do not listen to music at all … not time for such things. But I do watch some baseball games – it’s true.

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