What is the Parable of the Lost Coin and how does it apply to us today?
The Book of Luke is filled with moral teachings and many of the Parables of Jesus.
Luke 15 offers three powerful illustrations that teach us about God’s love for his children.
We will explore the moral lesson woven into the story of the lost coin today, but it’s important to consider the two parables surrounding this story, as well.
Together, these three parables teach us that we are of great value to God and remind us that all human beings are precious to the Lord.
These parables also illustrate God’s desire to pursue us fervently—even when we are actively embracing sin in our lives.
Let’s study this life-changing chapter together today.
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Parable of the Lost Coin Story
The story of the Lost Coin comes from a series of Jesus' teachings and is found in Luke 15.
It begins with Jesus teaching the tax collectors and other sinful people (people who were considered sinful by the Jewish religious leaders).
The religious leaders were angry that Jesus was spending time with sinful people, and Jesus responded to their indignation by sharing the Parable of the Lost Sheep.
In this parable, Jesus describes a shepherd who loses one of his sheep. The Shepherd leaves his entire flock to find the one sheep that was lost.
Jesus then declares that there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Here are Jesus’ words:
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7, ESV).
Next, Jesus offers the story of the lost coin.
This illustration describes the story of a woman with ten silver coins. When she loses one coin, she goes to great lengths to find it.
She lights a lamp, sweeps the dirt floors, and searches the whole house until she finds the valuable coin.
When she finally finds the coin, she calls her neighbors with great joy and says,
“Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin I had lost” (Luke 15:9).
Jesus teaches that, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of the angels in heaven over one lost soul who repents.
Before we dig into the meaning of this parable, let’s take a moment to unpack the third parable in this chapter: The Parable of the Prodigal Son. This story teaches a similar moral lesson.
This illustration begins by describing a man who has two sons. The younger son asks his father for his share of the inheritance early. He then spends it all on reckless living and parties.
Eventually, he runs out of money and finds a job caring for pigs. His situation becomes so desperate that he even considers eating the pigs’ food for sustenance.
In humble desperation, the young man comes to his senses and returns home to his father.
When the young man’s father sees him approaching from a long way off, he does something unheard of for a respectable man in the Jewish culture: He throws aside propriety and runs to meet his son.
Throwing his arms around his son, he gives him his best robe and throws a party—killing the fattened calf—to welcome him home.
Sadly, the older brother is jealous of his younger brother.
He remarks, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him” (Luke 15:29-30).
His father responds, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:31-32).
These three parables teach us a valuable lesson about the Kingdom of God: No one has ever fallen too far to be redeemed and welcomed into God’s family.
Let’s now focus on the Parable of the Lost Coin as we reflect upon its meaning.
Parable of the Lost Coin Meaning
What is the meaning of the Parable of the Lost Coin?
We can gather many lessons from the parables in this chapter of the Bible. Today, we will focus on three moral lessons learned from Jesus’ illustrations.
- First, all human beings are of great value to God, and he pursues us with the loving heart of a good Father.
- Second, we are all lost without the redemptive blood of Christ to pay for our sins.
- Third, we need to be careful about being critical of others and comparing ourselves to them regarding our behavior. This sort of comparison can lead to hard-heartedness and is not from God.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these lessons.
The primary teaching in each of these stories is a lesson about God’s great love for us. God created every person on Earth, and he will go to great lengths to redeem and restore his children.
Just as the shepherd left his 99 sheep to pursue the lost sheep, Jesus will go to great heights to pursue us.
In the same way that the woman strenuously searched for her lost coin, Jesus searches for those who have not yet received his gift of salvation.
When he finds these lost souls, he rejoices, just as the woman rejoiced upon finding the lost coin.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son shines light on this teaching from a different angle. While many people assume that the younger son is the main character in this story, others contest that the father is the main character.
The father represents God—a Father who loves us so much that he willingly runs to welcome us into his arms when we turn to him. What great love the Father has for us!
Let’s now look at the second insight we can learn from this chapter: Just as the lost coin was separated from its owner, our sin separates us from God.
No human being is without sin, and the punishment for sin is eternal separation from God (see Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23).
However, God has provided a way for us to be made right with him: Jesus, the Son of man, paid the price for our sins when he died on the cross for us (see John 3:16).
Anyone who receives Jesus as Lord and Savior and embraces the good news of the Gospel receives the gift of eternal life with God.
This lesson is exemplified through the sheep that was separated from the flock, the lost coin, and the son who chose to pursue sin instead of remaining under the protective boundaries set by his father.
These three parables remind us that we have all fallen short of God’s perfect standards.
No human being is without sin. We all need the work of Christ to redeem us from our sins and bring us back into union with our heavenly Father.
Third, this chapter is also filled with warnings about comparing ourselves to others, judging others, or rejecting others based on their sinful lifestyles.
When Jesus shared this parable, he directed it toward the religious leaders who did not approve of Jesus’ love for tax collectors and other sinners. He was demonstrating that there is no favoritism in the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.
This story is relevant to religious people today, too. Some believers compare themselves to others, believe they are more deserving of God’s mercy and grace, and do not approve of God’s love for sinful humanity.
Like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, they are angry when God welcomes sinful people into his family. Sadly, they are forgetting that we are all sinful, and we are all desperate for God’s mercy and grace.
Let’s now take some time to apply these teachings to our lives as we reflect upon God’s message for us today.
Parable of the Lost Coin Reflection
With the three moral lessons in mind, let’s see how these teachings apply to our lives and create space for God to speak to our hearts.
The parable of the lost coin reminds us that God truly rejoices when a new person receives salvation and is welcomed into His family.
Take a few moments to reflect on the following questions. Ask God to search your heart and show you if you are not adhering to him in any of these areas.
First, reflect on your value in God’s eyes.
God loves you so much that he is like a shepherd who leaves his entire flock of sheep to find you. God pursues you. You are of great value to him.
Has this truth settled into the deepest part of your heart?
Many people theoretically know that God loves them, but this truth has not changed their hearts. The truth has not made the journey from their minds to their hearts.
Today, ask God to show you if you are living from your core identity as his dearly loved child.
Your belovedness in God’s eyes is the only part of your identity that can never be changed or taken away (see Romans 8:38-39). You might lose every other title in your life; however, you will still be God’s beloved child.
When we learn to live from our true identities, God sets us free to love others well and walk in peace and joy. This is the greatest freedom we can ever find.
Has God’s love changed your heart?
If not, spend some time soaking in his love. Search for Bible verses about God’s love for you, write them down, and commit them to memory. Meditate on them.
God wants to speak his love over you, show you your great value, and transform your life.
Second, have you embraced the reality that your sin separates you from God?
It might seem paradoxical to study this point after reflecting on God’s great love for us; however, we need to remember the character of God.
God is perfectly holy, pure, and flawless. Sin cannot stand in his presence.
For this reason, our sin creates separation between us and our heavenly Father. However, there is good news! When Jesus died on the cross, he bore the punishment we deserve for our sins.
By receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior—believing he died for us, receiving the gift of his suffering in exchange for our forgiveness, and committing to following him—we can be saved.
We are no longer separated from God.
This principle is illustrated powerfully through a remarkable event that took place when Jesus died on the cross.
At the time of Jesus’ death, God’s people worshiped him in a temple. However, they could not directly access God’s presence and sent a priest into the holiest part of the temple to speak to God for them.
This holy part of the temple was separated from the rest of the temple by a thick curtain. Some scholars suggest that the curtain was four inches thick.
When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain suddenly tore in two.
God tore the curtain to show that his people had free access to him because of Jesus’ work on the cross. The veil was torn, and all of God’s children were invited into his presence!
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Have you received Jesus as your Savior? If not, what is stopping you?
You need only tell him that you believe that he died for your sins, ask him to forgive you, and commit to following him. He is waiting to hear you say the Salvation Prayer.
Lastly, it’s important to examine our hearts and be sure that we are not critical of others.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day did not approve of Jesus eating with notoriously sinful people, and they had trouble accepting that there is room in the Kingdom of Heaven for every sinner who repents.
We are all in need of repentance, and our Lord Jesus came to call us into God’s family.
Take a moment to consider whether you have been critical of others. Ask yourself if you have a hard heart toward anyone in your life.
Can you relate to the older brother of the prodigal son, who was resentful when their father welcomed his rebellious brother and celebrated his return home?
If so, repent. Ask God to change your heart and fill you with love and tenderness toward others.
In conclusion, never forget that you are worth much more than the monetary value of one small lost coin. Your heavenly Father is pursuing you today. How will you respond?
Be sure to check out more from our Parables of Jesus collection: