The scribes and Pharisees complained against Jesus, for He would receive those whom they deemed to be base persons of society. When this accusation was levied against Him in Luke 5, Jesus answered:
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)
Jesus was able to help the “sinners and tax collectors, but He could do nothing for the scribes and Pharisees. Only one who acknowledges he is sick will heed the word of the doctor. Jesus came as the Great Physician, bringing with Him the remedy for man’s soul, but the scribes and Pharisees rejected Him, believing they were already right with God. It was the average person, those who were frowned upon by the religious leaders who came to Jesus, for they knew they needed Him.
The same accusation was made in Luke 15. this time, Jesus answered with a parable. The parable is given in three sections, each revealing something that was lost and need to be found. He came to see and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). The tax collectors and sinners who were coming to Jesus were lost—but if they obeyed His word, they would be found, they would be saved!
The Lost Sheep
The first section of the parable speaks of a shepherd who has lost a single lamb. Though he has 99 sheep who are safe with him, he leaves them to go search for the one which was lost. We might look at the situation and conclude that a 1% loss is acceptable. The shepherd does not agree, and fortunate for us, neither does the Lord. The shepherd loves all of his sheep, they are all precious to him.
Equally, every soul is precious to God, and He desires all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). How far was the Master willing to go to seek and save the lost? He went to a cross just outside the city of Jerusalem and died there for all. The Good Shepherd gave His own life for the sheep, not just as a flock, but for each one individually. He died for me and He died for you!
The Lost Coin
The second section of the parable has a woman who has lost a coin. What is the significance of this lost coin? Some have supposed that she may have been poor, and this was a vital part of her livelihood. Others have suggested the coin was part of a headdress, the ancient equivalent to a wedding ring. Which is the case, we cannot know for certain; it’s not stated. What we do know is that the coin was extremely important to her. She swept the floor (a dirt floor) meticulously looking for this piece.
If it is the headdress, it was incomplete without this coin. Think about the spiritual implication of that. Why was Jesus so focused on teaching the people? Why did He encourage His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel? Why should you and I be compelled by the same command to share the message of Christ with anyone we can? Every soul which is saved is a jewel before the Lord! Hear the words of the prophet:
Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them, so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ (Malachi 3:16-17)
The Lost Son
Though Jesus used a sheep and a coin in His parable, He is speaking about something so much more important. He closes by speaking of a lost son. He was not lost due to any fault on the father’s part, this son was willfully lost. He chose to walk away from his father, to go do his own thing in a far away land. Friend, that represents every individual who is of accountable age. All who have sinned have done so because they have chosen to walk away from the Father and His will.
Like the father in the parable, our heavenly Father waits for His wandering children to return. He longs to declare of those who will come to Him,
…this is my son who was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:24)