The Lost Coin
Luke 15:8-10
Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, does not light a candle, and sweep the house…


1. It was a coin. That is to say, it was not simply a piece of a precious metal, but that metal moulded and minted into money, bearing on it the king's image and superscription, and witnessing to his authority wherever it circulated.

2. But the corn was lost, and this suggests that in sinful man the image of his Maker has gone out of sight, and the great purpose of his being has been frustrated. His intellect does not like to retain God in its knowledge; his heart has estranged its love from God; and his life is devoted to another lord than his Creator. He is lost.

3. Yet he is not absolutely worthless. The coin, though lost, has still a value. If it can be recovered, it will be worth as much as ever.

4. But yet, again, this coin was lost in the house. The woman did not let it fall as she was crossing the wild and trackless moor, neither did she drop it into the unfathomed depths of ocean. Had she done so, she would never have thought of seeking for it; she would have given it up as irrecoverable. Now, this points to the fact that the soul of the sinner is recoverable. It is capable of being restored to its original dignity and honour. It has in it still potentialities as great and glorious as those which ever belonged to it.

II. This brings me to the consideration of THE SEARCH, WHEREIN WE HAVE ALSO SOME THINGS SUGGESTED WHICH ARE PECULIAR TO THIS PARABLE. Eastern houses, unlike our own, are constructed in such a way as to keep out the light and heat of the sun as much as possible. They have few windows, and even the few which they have are shaded with such lattice-work as tends to exclude rather than admit the sunbeam. Hence the rooms are generally dark; and so, even if the coin were lost at noonday, the light of a candle would be required to seek for it. Nor was there, in Eastern dwellings, the same scrupulous cleanliness that we love to see in so many homes around us. The floors were often covered with rushes, which, being changed only at rare intervals, collected a vast amount of dust and filth, among which a piece of money might be most readily lost. Hence the lighting of a candle and the sweeping of the house were the most natural things to be done in such a case. But whom does this woman represent? and what, spiritually, are we to understand by the lighting of a candle and the sweeping of the house? The woman, in my judgment, symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and I look upon the means which she employed in her search for the lost coin as denoting the efforts made by the Holy Spirit for the recovery of a lost soul. Now let us see what these were. She lighted a candle, and swept the house, and searched diligently. The light most evidently represents the truth; but what are we to make of the sweeping? Some would take it to illustrate the purifying work of the Holy Ghost in the heart. But that view cannot be maintained, since the purifying of the soul is not a work in order to, but rather subsequent upon, its recovery. I take it rather, therefore, to represent that disturbance of settled opinions and practices — that turning of the soul, as it were, upside down — which is frequently seen as a forerunner of conversion; that confusion and disorder occasioned by some providential dealing with the man, such as personal illness, or business difficulties, or family bereavement, or the like, and which frequently issues in the coming of the soul to God; for here also chaos often precedes the new creation. Truth introduced into the heart, and providential disturbances and unsettlements in order to its introduction — these are the things symbolized by the lighting of the candle and the sweeping of the house. The truth which the Holy Spirit employs for the purpose of conversion is the Word of God, all of which has been given to men by His own inspiration; and the especial portion of that Word which He uses for His saving work is the wondrous story of the Cross.

III. We come now, in the third place, to look at THE JOY OVER THE RECOVERED COIN; and here, as before, we shall restrict ourselves to that which is peculiar to this parable. In the story of the lost sheep, while the social character of the joy is certainly referred to, the speciality in the gladness of the shepherd over its finding lay in the fact, to which prominence is given in the appended note of interpretation, that it was greater than over the ninety and nine which had never strayed. Here, however, the peculiarity is in the sociality of the joy. God's joy, if I may dare to use the words, needs society to make it complete; and the fact that there are those beside Him to whom He can make known the story of each recovered soul, redoubles His own gladness, and diffuses among them His own Divine delight. Nor let it be supposed that this is a mere fanciful idea, for which there is no foundation in Scripture apart from the teaching of this parable. What says Paul? "God hath created all things by Jesus Christ; to the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10). Now, these words mean, if they mean anything at all, that through means of the Church, God designed to show to principalities and powers in heavenly places His manifold wisdom. In the manifestation of this wisdom God has His highest work, and, in its appreciation by spiritual intelligences, through the Church of Christ, He has His greatest joy.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?

WEB: Or what woman, if she had ten drachma coins, if she lost one drachma coin, wouldn't light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she found it?

The Church's Neglect of Souls
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