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「“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”」Luke 15:8-10 NIV
1. In Luke chapter 15, there are three parables written in series that the Lord Jesus spoke about. Today, we’d like to search and receive the message of God from the second parable, the parable of “the Lost Coin”.
• First of all, let’s learn about the context of this parable.
• Verse 8 says, “Suppose a woman has ten silver coins,…” This sentence doesn’t seem to be that important, but for those who listened to this parable, it was obvious what kind of woman she was.
• This coin was a Greek Coin, called drachma coin. I believe you have heard of Roman coin, denarius, and this 1 drachma coin has about the same value as 1 denarius, it was about the wages for one day at that time.
• Then, how much monetary value was the worker’s wage of 1 drachma at that time when replaced with modern times? Considering various circumstances, it seems to be about 1000 yen.
• Assuming that one drachma is 1000 yen, this woman now has 10 silver coins of 1000 yen. That means that she had silver coins totaling about 10,000 yen.
• In other words, this woman was neither rich nor anything, but she lived an ordinary, simple life.
• Then, what does it mean that the woman who lived this ordinary and simple life had 10 silver coins?
• Many Bible scholars pay attention to the customs of the time. At that time, when a woman got married, she brought ten silver coins as marriage portion, putting together like a necklace.
• Therefore, when the Lord Jesus said, “A woman has 10 silver coins …” …
It seems that many people at that time would imagine an ordinary woman who was about to get married.
2. In other words, apparently, this parable is about a woman who was excitedly preparing for the marriage just before her wedding, and she lost one silver coin out of 10 important coins.
• Now she is in trouble. If she doesn’t find one, she may not be able to go to her own wedding. Of course, she begins to look for her lost coin desperately.
• However, she cannot find it. What does she do now? Verse 8 says, “She lights a lamp, sweeps the house and searches carefully until she finds it.”
• If this woman is a rich person who can afford another coin, she would probably say, “It’s ok to lost one…” and she would bring another coin from somewhere and put it on her necklace, which solves the problem.
• However, she doesn’t have extra money anywhere. For her, the lost coin is not just one coin which can be replaceable, but it means so much more for her, she needs that specific coin for her special day.
• If she can’t find it, she wouldn’t be able to go to her wedding, the lost coin means so much for her. For those who can afford extra coin, it can be just “one another coin”, but for her, the lost coin is “the most precious, irreplaceable coin.”
• That’s why she literally begins to search hard for the lost irreplaceable coin everywhere she could. She sweeps the house, searches from corner to corner… she looks everywhere!
• And when she finally finds it, she is so pleased, that she jumps up and says “I found it! I finally found it!!”
• She is so happy that she wants to share her joy with her friends and neighbors, so she calls them, and says ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’
• As you may have noticed already… This one irreplaceable coin represents each one of us.
③ I will digress from today’s passage, but there is a story I want to share with you. It was last year, when I was driving on the National Root in Hiratsuka, I passed a shop selling used CDs.
• So I parked the car there, entered the shop, and immediately I went to the section at the very end, the “Classic” section.
• When I go to a store like this, I always start with the section written “Beethoven”, and then, I search for the section “Piano Concerto”.
• The reason why I have this routine is because I have been searching for a specific CD for roughly 20 years.
• The CD I’ve been looking for for over 20 years, called the Beethoven Emperor, was recorded by Seiji Ozawa in his young age, when he was in Chicago, with my favorite pianist, Rudolf Serkin, and this is the 5th CD of the Piano Concerto.
• I used to have a tape of this performance, and I had been listening to it for a long time, but since I listened to it repeatedly so many times, the tape finally got broken. Especially, my favorite part was the second movement, it was so wonderful that I couldn’t find words to explain that part.
• Some of you may think, “It’s probably better to order it online or somewhere, instead of looking for it at used CD shop.“ However, I was told that it was out of print, so I thought that I had no choice but to look for it at a second-hand shop. For about 20 years, I have visited about 100 stores, looking for that CD.
• On that day, I finally found the CD that I have been searching for many years. It was also very cheap, only 500 yen.
• You might think “Was it worth searching for that CD after all these years? You have been searching for something that was worth nothing.”
• Certainly, it is normal to think that searching for such an old CD this hard is so unnecessary. However, this old CD is very precious and valuable to me.
• Every time I glanced at the 500-yen CD in the passenger seat on my way home, I thought, “Hey, I finally found it … This CD reminds me of a silver coin from the Gospel of Luke…”
④ Returning to the parable, in order to interpret God’s wonderful message full of love from today’s passage, we must be aware of the element of “unexpectedness” of this parable.
• The only thing she lost here was just a silver coin. But surprisingly, she started looking for it everywhere in her house. She could relax and think “it would probably come out later!”, and do nothing, but that was not what she did.
• When she finally found it, she also acted unexpectedly. It was as if she found her lost child, she was delighted and called her friends and neighbors and said, “Rejoice with me!!” In this element of surprise and unexpectedness, there is the message of God.
• The element of unexpectedness here is how God sees each one of us with such love and passion.
• If you leave God and go somewhere, God will desperately search for each one of us like the way this woman looks for the coin. That’s how much God loves us, and sees us with this passion. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ spoke about.
〇 On the other hand, what do we usually think of ourselves?
• The other day, when I was reading the youth awareness surveys on the Internet, I was surprised at one thing. There was one category that young people in Japan were extremely low compared to other countries.
• According to this survey, many young people in Japan are not satisfied with themselves. The result shows that they don’t like themselves.
There are so many young people who think they have no value, they feel even if they don’t exist, it doesn’t make any differences, so basically they deny themselves like that.
• Of course, it all depends on each person, but overall, many of us don’t love ourselves that much. We usually don’t see ourselves so valuable.
• Then, what about older people? This is what I think from my pastoral experience.
I often hear something like this from elderly members.
“I try not to bother people around me since I am no longer useful.”
• I’m not talking about a general setting. Even within the church where it is taught that self-denial is not the will of God, words of self-denial are spoken so frequently, which is very sad and unfortunate.
• Here, we can recognize this gap between the way we see ourselves and how God sees us.
• The message Jesus wants to speak to us here, is that God sees us differently from how we see ourselves. God sees each one of us with great passion and love. This is the message that Jesus wants to speak through this parable.
➄ So why does God gaze at each of us with such passion?
• I would like to share this notable passage in Isaiah chapter 43 in the Old Testament. It is in the second half of 43: 1.
「“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.」
• God is searching for each of us, enthusiastically and passionately, far beyond our expectations. It is because we are His, and we belong to Him. The Bible says in this way. “I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” This is God’s declaration of love for each of us.
〇Lastly, we would like to see the conclusion of this parable.
Verse 10 says,「In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”」(Luke 15:10 NIV)
• In heaven, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God. The Lord Jesus says: “When you get saved, when you return to God, there is rejoicing in heaven, God’s joy is echoing in heaven and earth …”
• According to this parable of Jesus, our Father in heaven searches for each one of us so passionately. In other words, He is so crazy for us. We are loved and cared this much.
• As receiving His love, we’d like to take each step of faith this week.