If the parable of the lost sheep (Lk.15:1-7) is about being ‘lost and desperate about it’, this coin was ‘lost and couldn’t help it’. Comparisons can be made between the lively sheep that willfully strayed away from the flock of 100 and this inanimate coin that a woman ‘lost’ of 10 she possessed. Jesus may have deliberately picked a woman to serve his purpose as she would passionately express the deep grief and exuberant joy in finding what is lost. The point remains: We have a searching God, who actively seeks after lost souls, and rejoices whenever the ‘one’ is found
1. The Woman’s Silver: This poor, peasant woman lost one of her 10 coins – a drachma, a Greek silver coin, equivalent to a Roman denarius worth roughly a days’ wage. It is notable Jesus’ audience; the cold-hearted, self-righteous Pharisees were generally unimpressed with the moral character of women and wouldn’t readily identify with this lead character. Interestingly in Hebrew drachma means desirableness and there were reasons this woman beyond the cost, knew its true value. It was probably the poor woman’s ketubah – like a dowry, and may have been tied as a headband or placed within a necklace. She apparently had lost this modest silver (v.9), felt responsible for it and considered it precious enough to search out for it.
2. The Work of Seeking: More detail is given on the search here than the previous parable; various means are used, care and pains taken in the quest. The woman shines a candle – a small handheld oil lamp, needful as the Palestinian house had usually one tiny window, if any. Though hardly sufficient, light was necessary to look in between the dark crevices of the dirty, stone floors. ‘Light’ represents divine ‘revelation’ that leads to redemption. Jesus the Light (Jn.8:12) left us as the ‘light of the world’ to so live among unbelievers that they see our good ‘works’ and come to know and glorify God as Father of all lights (Matt. 5:16). Second, she sweeps the house and seeks diligently. Notice physical effort is involved with the hope to hear coin rattle on floor. There’s perseverance and endurance of hope ‘until’ the coin is repossessed.
3. The Witness in Sharing: The silver found, the woman’s mission is accomplished. Yet part of the mission is an invitation and a celebration with her neighbors, which Jesus uses to illustrate the party angels have in heaven over one repentant sinner. The salvation of a soul is always accompanied by joy. Jesus (means, Savior) is the Joy of all the earth and his presence brings ‘joy to the world’ – a joy that the world can not give nor can take away! Such joy cannot be kept to oneself; it must become our strength and be shared with others, as it is contagious! Joy is the outcome of the woman’s hard work and becomes, as C.S. Lewis puts it, ‘the serious business of heaven’.
In Matt.9:35- we see Jesus’ mission in the marketplace. His work is his witness: preaching, teaching, healing and thereby ushering in God’s kingdom. He presented the Gospel as it is, to people where they are: in the synagogue, on the streets, to the sick at home, to friends on a summit or people at work by the sea. Jesus wanted his followers to be salt; not in the salt-shaker but effective in the soup (real world)! Two questions to introduced the place where I’m convinced the cutting edge of mission is today. (a) how many of the disciples Jesus chose were ‘full-time’ pastors or ministers? Less than the number you guessed – none! (b) On an average, who comes in contact with more ‘lost’ people in a week: your pastor at church or the business or lay person at the office or workshop? Of course, the latter!
Evangelism has moved from the nave to the neighborhood, from Cathedrals to Call Centers and is best realized in the market square and office. I believe missions today is not from the South to the North, nor West to East or vice versus. It is ‘from everywhere to everywhere’! Our day-to-day work, marked by commitment, integrity and excellence must be that shining witness in the workplace that attracts and wins the ‘lost’ at any cost, while we can!