Parables of the lost sheep, coin

LUKE 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them He addressed this parable. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. “Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Reflection

Lost sheep and coin: The first parable begins with a question. The logical implicit answer is: No shepherd would leave 99 sheep in the desert and go look for a stupid lost one! Ninety-nine sheep are more valuable than one sheep. God does what no shepherd would do: God seeks out the lost – tax collectors and sinners, those considered to be of no value. For Luke, Jesus is the Shepherd who goes out looking for the lost sheep; He welcomes sinners and eats with them. The second parable about a woman who loses one of ten coins makes the same point. Typical of Luke’s style, the owner of the lost sheep is a man, while the owner of the lost coin is a woman. The lost coin is one of ten coins; it is of little value. However, the parable identifies the lost coin with tax collectors and sinners. What is of no value to people is of great value to God. Both parables emphasize the celebration that follows the finding and conclude with fullness. The man finds the lost sheep and again has 100 sheep. The woman finds the lost coin and again has ten coins. According to Luke, in the kingdom, God rejoices over the finding of one lost sinner. God intends to have everyone – in distinction to those who think that God is only interested in the righteous.

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