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Luke 15:1-10

His name was Tyler. He was without a doubt the proverbial thorn in my side the entirety of my 4th grade year. He was unquestionably the “bad kid” in our class. The one who always talked in the hallway and made us all lose extra recess. The one who didn’t line up when he was supposed to, resulting in scolding for all. The one who chattered during the School House Rock educational videos, squashing everyone’s hopes for a quick replay of “I’m Just a Bill.” And through some horrible twist of fate, Tyler was assigned to my desk group. There goes our shot at a pizza lunch with the teacher for being the best-behaved desk cluster. If ever a kid fit the profile for being a “wayward sheep”, Tyler did. And if I were honest, I wouldn’t have worked up a sweat seeking him out if he had ever strayed from the flock.

In Luke’s parallel parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, addresses this same less-than charitable attitude in the Pharisees and scribes who are miffed that Jesus would sully himself by keeping company with “tax collectors and sinners.” Not only does Jesus welcomes sinners; he also eats with them, a shocking offense to any self-respecting Jew. To break bread with someone of ill repute, to share the intimacy of meal fellowship with a law-breaker reflected poorly on the character of everyone at the table, Jesus included.

And so, Jesus tells them a parable. He confronts their malformed images of God, not through lecture of exegesis, but through the telling a story about a sheep and coin.

In both stories, the character of the seeker is front and center. The shepherd goes after his wayward sheep until he finds it. We imagine a young man scouring the countryside, with only the light of the moon to guide him, driven on by his devotion to the sheep in his care. And when he finds it, he celebrates! He shares his joy with friends and family. In the same way, the woman searches high and low for her lost coin. Her need to light a lamp to search her home is probably indicative of a very small structure with little natural light. The loss of one coin is not on inconvenience. It is potentially devastating. And so, she moves heaven and earth to find the coin and, like the shepherd, rejoices in its recovery.