A Lost Sheep, a Lost Coin
1The tax collectors and sinners all came to listen to Jesus. 2But the Pharisees
and the teachers of the law began to complain: “Look, this man welcomes sinners
and even eats with them.”
3Then Jesus told them this story: 4“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep
but loses one of them. Then he will leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the open
field and go out and look for the lost sheep until he finds it. 5And when he finds
it, he happily puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. He calls to his friends and
neighbors and says, ‘Be happy with me because I found my lost sheep.’ 7In the
same way, I tell you there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes his
heart and life, than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to change.
8“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins, but loses one. She will light a
lamp, sweep the house, and look carefully for the coin until she finds it. 9And
when she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Be happy with
me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ 10In the same way, there is joy in
the presence of the angels of God when one sinner changes his heart and life.”
The Son Who Left Home
11Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons. 12The younger son said to his father,
‘Give me my share of the property.’ So the father divided the property between
his two sons. 13Then the younger son gathered up all that was his and traveled far
away to another country. There he wasted his money in foolish living. 14After he
had spent everything, a time came when there was no food anywhere in the
country, and the son was poor and hungry. 15So he got a job with one of the
citizens there who sent the son into the fields to feed pigs. 16The son was so
hungry that he wanted to eat the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him
anything. 17When he realized what he was doing, he thought, ‘All of my father’s
servants have plenty of food. But I am here, almost dying with hunger. 18I will
leave and return to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against God
and have done wrong to you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son, but
let me be like one of your servants.”’ 20So the son left and went to his father.
“While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for
his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him. 21The son said,
‘Father, I have sinned against God and have done wrong to you. I am no longer
worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Hurry! Bring
the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and sandals
on his feet. 23And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate.
24My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found!’
So they began to celebrate.
25“The older son was in the field, and as he came closer to the house, he heard
the sound of music and dancing. 26So he called to one of the servants and asked
what all this meant. 27The servant said, ‘Your brother has come back, and your
father killed the fat calf, because your brother came home safely.’ 28The older
son was angry and would not go in to the feast. So his father went out and begged
him to come in. 29But the older son said to his father, ‘I have served you like a
slave for many years and have always obeyed your commands. But you never
gave me even a young goat to have at a feast with my friends. 30But your other
son, who wasted all your money on prostitutes, comes home, and you kill the fat
calf for him!’ 31The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that
I have is yours. 32We had to celebrate and be happy because your brother was
dead, but now he is alive. He was lost, but now he is found.’” (NCV)
The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were intrigued by Jesus' teaching; they were always nearby to hear him and watch him and criticize him. The Pharisees went to great lengths to be ceremonially clean, which they believed made them righteous in God's sight. Jesus' great concern, however, was offering salvation to sinners.
Jesus told three parables to correct the Pharisees' misconception about God. These parables show that God loves all people and wants everyone especially sinners to come to him. God doesn't play favorites, and he rejoices when anyone turns to him.
Theresa Briones is a tender, loving mother. She also has a stout left hook that she used to punch a lady in a coin laundry. Why'd she do it?
Some kids were making fun of Theresa's daughter, Alicia.
Alicia is bald. Her knees are arthritic, her nose is pinched, and her hips are creaky. Her hearing is bad. She has the stamina of a seventy-year old, and she is only ten.
"Mom," the kids taunted, 'come and look at the monster!”
Alicia weighs only twenty two pounds and is shorter than most preschoolers. She suffers from progeria-a genetic aging disease that strikes one child in eight million. The life expectancy of progeria victims is twenty years. There are only fifteen known cases of this disease in the world.
"She is not an alien. She is not a monster:' Theresa defended. "She is just like you and me."
Mentally, Alicia is a bubbly, fun-loving third grader. She has a long list of friends. She watches television in a toddler-sized rocking chair. She plays with Barbie dolls and teases her younger brother.
Theresa has grown accustomed to the glances and questions. She is patient with the constant curiosity. Genuine inquiries she accepts. Insensitive slanders she does not.
The mother of the finger pointing children came to investigate. '" I see 'it," she told the kids.
"My child is not an 'it:"
Theresa stated. Then she decked the woman.
Who could blame her?
Such is the nature of parental love. Mothers and fathers have a God-given ability to love their children regardless of imperfections. Not because the parents are blind. Just the opposite. They see vividly.
Theresa sees Alicia's inability as clearly as anyone. But she also sees Alicia's value.
So does God.
God sees us with the eyes of a Father. He sees our defects, errors, and blemishes. But he also sees our value.
. . . What did Jesus know that enabled him to do what he did?
Here's part of the answer.
He knew the value of people. He knew that each human being is a treasure. And because he did, people were not a source of stress, but a source of joy. (From In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado)
God offers salvation to everyone. If you find yourself judging others, remember that God values them. Think of what you can do to show God’s love to the unlovely.
God's Impartiality-Job 34:19; Acts 10:28, 34-35; Romans 10:11-13; Galatians 3:28; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 3:20.