the stories in Luke 15 tend to follow a theme pattern of being lost. or the lost ones. unfortunately, the titles that have been chosen for those set of stories give us only one possible interpretation of what is being said. most of the time, those 3 parables (lost sheep, coin and son) tend to get interpreted separately and out of context. but, when stuck back into its context, what is another interpretation that might of it?
the lost sheep.
here is a story that starts with the phrase ‘suppose one of you lose a sheep’ — in this culture it was extremely rude to blame a person for losing an item. in that culture, if a friend borrowed something from you and lost it, you would say the object got lost or lost itself. EX: the car got lost. rather than saying ‘you lost the car’. if you did blame the person it would be like giving the middle finger to that person and calling them idiots. so jesus is telling this story in response to why the pharisees were inquiring into jesus’ friendship with the outsiders. and so jesus is essentially challenging the pharisees by telling them that they need to learn from the lost sheep. the word in hebrew for sheep means ‘to journey’; in this story, the 99 sheep were representing the child of israel, the clean or the pharisee. he was telling them that they weren’t learning how to be lost.
the lost coin.
the lost coin was lost. it couldn’t move. it was where it was. it wasn’t moving. it wasn’t being what it was meant to be. coins were currency. they influenced the society. they change minds, systems, and even hearts. but the coin could only do so while being in motion. while being passed around. the coin wasn’t moving. the coin stopped traveling. stopped questioning. stopped diving and digging. it was stagnant. the religiou ones forgot how to be lost. forgot how to lose everything they knew to rediscover the journey.
the lost son.
this story has so much in it (especially from the jewish perspective). but there was a point when the lost son came to his senses. the story as we know it, leaves the older son angry. so as we know it, the older son never came to his senses. he never learned from the lost son. the older son as is typically read represents the religious ones. the ones with the answers. yet, everything the son did and learned from, the older son didn’t. the older son doesn’t learn. he is afraid to get lost, he is afraid to find out what it means to be lost. to lose all he knew. to give it up. because if he did he might just be left with everything he was meant to have. and interestingly enough, all three ‘lost’ objects were found. it was the point that they were lost, but that they were found. we need to journey. to lose all the things we think we know to find who we truly are. if we don’t we become the very people we don’t advocate.