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Bible Gemz 1036 - The Lost Coin - having a mummy's look (Luke 15:8-10)

June 27, 2019


Unit Three:


Or what woman having ten drachmas, if she loses one drachma does not light a lamp and sweep the house, and look carefully until she finds it? 

And finding it, she calls together the friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I lost. 

I say to you, So there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:8-10)



Now we come to the second of the segments of the parable: The Lost Coin. The second element of lostness.  Suppose a woman loses one drachma. One out of ten. The ratio of loss is now 1/10 or 10%. This is significant loss, it is not trivial. This [supposed] woman is in contrast to the man of the second unit. The first clearly is pointing to the pharisees. Suppose a man (of you – among you) now becomes "suppose a woman".  None of the pharisees need to be threatened now. They clearly are not women. In fact the pharisees ritually thanked God they were not born women. Is Jesus moving the focus away from them with this little unit or is something else going here with this contrast in suppose a man / suppose a woman? 


The drachma she has lost is an interesting word. It is only found in the Bible in Luke 15:8 + 9. We know it was a silver coin. It is assumed that the drachma is the equivalent of the denarius which we know from Gemz 989 was valued around 20 cents.  The drachma is still the currency of Greece but worth considerably less now than its value in Biblical times in terms of purchasing power. It now takes 30 drachma to make up a US Dollar. 20 cents back then has devalued to around 3 cents now. Sad. But leave aside currencies and exchange rates and calculate it another way. The drachma / denarius was the equivalent of a day's wages. Given that value no one is going to treat it as trivial. My sweat or effort that earned that money over a whole day was worth something. I am not going to treat is as worthless. Just consider for a moment what your rate of pay is on a daily basis. That is the standard by which you must measure this woman's loss. It is substantial. And furthermore it seems that it constituted 10% of her total wealth. Now that is even more significant. 


"Does she not light a lamp in order to find it?" She does, doesn’t she? The answer is expected in the affirmative. Of course she does. It is likely that she would light the small oil burning lamp in the daytime as well as the night. The homes were not well lit and so in order to find the coin she would well have to light the lamp, a shallow dish containing oil and a wick, even in the daytime. There is no indication in the passage that it is day time. We don't know if it was night or day. But it is likely that she looked at daytime when the chances of her finding it were higher. But irrespective of whether it was day or night she would still have had to light the lamp. I think of what we have experienced living in houses in rural villages which were very dim inside the bedrooms, even in the daytime. So this woman would have to light the lamp whenever time it was. 


Notice that she would have to spend money in order to find her coin. But she does all she can to find. She turns the house upside down. She lights the lamp, sweeps the house and then use the lamp to look carefully for the lost coin. She had a mummy's look. No poking her head in the room giving it a quick glance, a once over and declaring she can't find it. "Go back and have a mummy's look." She already has. Have you ever turned the house upside down to find something? Taking each item out of your bag / purse / drawer / cupboard piece by piece to ensure nothing is missed? Sifting through it all little by little to ensure the thing you are looking for is not tucked away somewhere? She goes to great lengths to find it. Same as the shepherd in the unit before - possibly carrying a 100 kg sheep back to the village.   The point of these stories lies in the lengths people will go to find what is lost. Keep that in mind. 


Note we have the same refrains repeated in this story. Friends and neighbours are called to rejoice. There is joy in heaven among the angels, repentance is emphasized. The use of angels here is likely to be periphrastic. It is likely a substitute for God Himself. But there is a touch of "judgement time" about it. The same patterns are there as we have seen before. Once again why would repentance be mentioned? I wasn't aware that coins could repent.  In the first segment at least sheep have a metaphorical connection to human beings. We are after all the sheep of His pasture. But coins! Come on, how can coins repent? Still the refrain is used. It is setting the pattern and maintaining it – creating the expectation in the audience for the next stage which we will begin tomorrow. 



Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Benjamin Franklin


The value that you place upon anything is immediately revealed by the price that you were willing to pay for it in the first place. 


Or the lengths you are willing to go to find it or redeem it back. 


You cannot gain experience without paying a price. You just have to hope that the price is not greater than the value of the experience you gain.  You cannot judge what the price will be until after you have gained the experience. It's tragic to pay the price for experience and not learn the lesson. Bob Gass


The value in living is in letting your life count for something. Pay the price - count the cost - make a stand! Brian Houston






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