- 1. Synopsis
- 2. Parable Given in Response to
- 3. Symbolism Chart
- 4. The Parable in Luke
- 5. Symbolic Interpretations
- 5.1. The Man and Woman are likely Jesus
- 5.2. Group of Sheep and Silver Pieces are likely Followers of God
- 5.3. The Lost Sheep and Lost Silver Piece are Sinners
- 5.4. The Found Sheep and Found Silver Piece are repentant Sinners
- 5.5. The Friends and Neighbors are Angelic Beings
- 5.6. The Rejoicing with Friends and Neighbors is Rejoicing in Heaven
- 6. Conclusion
Synopsis of Parable:
A man loses his sheep. A woman loses her coin. They each find their lost item. They then call their friends to celebrate.
Parable Given in Response to:
Jesus speaking to a crowd of "publicans and sinners"(Luke 15:1.) while the Pharisees mutter about him.(Luke 15:2.)
|Symbol||Meaning||Verse Found||Verse Interpreted||Notes|
|↓Man/Woman||Jesus||Man - Luke 15:4
Woman - Luke 15:8
|Jesus did not interpret the meaning of the
Man or Woman, and there is a good amount
of leeway as to the interpretation.
|↓Sheep/Silver Piece||Followers of God||Sheep - Luke 15:4
Silver Piece - Luke 15:8
|Jesus did not interpret the meaning of the hundred
sheep or ten silver pieces, and there is a small
amount of leeway as to the interpretation.
|↓Lost Sheep/Silver Piece||Sinner||Lost Sheep - Luke 15:5
Lost Silver Piece - Luke 15:9
|Luke 15:7, 10|
|↓Found Sheep/Silver Piece||repentant Sinner||Found Sheep - Luke 15:4
Found Silver Piece - Luke 15:8
|Luke 15:7, 10|
|↓Friends and Neighbors||Angelic Beings||Luke 15:6, 9||Luke 15:7, 10|
|↓Rejoicing||Rejoicement in Heaven||Luke 15:6, 9||Luke 15:7, 10|
The Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coins
As presented in the King James Version of Luke 15:3-10.
Luke 15:3And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols
The Man and Woman are likely Jesus Back to Top ↑
Of the man, Jesus directly puts it to the audience.
It would make sense that he would be joyful when someone wanders away from him, and he finds them again.
Likewise, it would make sense for the man and woman to represent Jesus, since it is Jesus who was
That God gives mercy to repentant sinners is well known.(Proverbs 28:13.) Jesus is much the same way, instructing people to repent repeatedly.(Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3, 5.) Even Jesus's forerunner, John the Baptist, instructed other to repent.(Matthew 3:2.) Accepting that the man and woman represent either God or Jesus should change nothing. Instead, it should be obvious to anyone who has read even a bit of the bible.
Group of Sheep and Silver Pieces are likely Followers of God
The sheep and the silver pieces are owned by the man and the woman, respectively. They are the ones who take care of the sheep or silver pieces, just as Jesus takes care of us as our shepherd.(John 10:11, 14; cf. Ezekiel 34:23.) And much like the sheep or silver pieces, we hang around our shepherd, either in the field he provides(John 10:9.) or perhaps in a pouch with the other silver pieces. Furthermore, followers of God also have the ability to both separate from God in sin,(Exodus 32:33; Isaiah 59:2.) and reconcile to God.(See again, Proverbs 28:13.)
There is no other logical representation for the sheep and silver pieces. The only thing lost, but then found, that originally belonged to God and Jesus, that they would then rejoice over, are people. God loves the world.(John 3:16, 17.) Even so, God hates those who have been separated from him in sin.(Psalm 5:5, 11:5; Proverbs 15:9; Zechariah 8:17 cf. Proverbs 13:5.) But yet he longs for us to be reconciled with him.(Isaiah 1:18, and yet again, Proverbs 28:13.) With no other logical interpretations, we know that the sheep and silver coins are followers of God.
Much like the man and woman, this interpretation should also be as obvious as water to those who have read even a small portion of the Bible.
The Lost Sheep and Lost Silver Piece are Sinners Back to Top ↑
As previously pointed out, sin separates people from God.(Exodus 32:32-33; Isaiah 59:2.)
Those that become separated are not only hated by God,(See again, Psalm 5:5, 11:5; Proverbs
13:5, 15:9; Zechariah 8:17.) but even Jesus does not even know them.(Matthew 25:12; Luke 13:25,
27. Consider also that Jesus knew the righteous man Lazarus, but did not mention the sinful rich man's
name in Luke 16:19-31. Instead, Jesus called him
Jesus directly compares the lost sheep(Luke 15:7.) and the lost silver piece(Luke
15:10.) to sinners. It cannot be wrong then, that Jesus calls these people lost. As we will find out
when we look at the next symbol, it is Jesus's job to search out these people. He said:
There is nothing about the core of this interpretation that should be a surprise even to a skimmer of the gospels. This is all well-established theology in almost every sect of Christianity.
The Found Sheep and Found Silver Piece are repentant Sinners Back to Top ↑
Jesus directly compares the found sheep and the found silver coin to
And it makes sense that Jesus would search for lost sinners. Jesus said:
This is nothing new to Christianity. From the very beginning, God has wanted man to enjoy everlasting
life.(Genesis 2:17.) But now that man has sinned, death is inevitable.(Genesis 3:19,
Deuteronomy 24:16.) God still wants man to have life,(John 3:16.) even beyond human
death.(Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33.) That is why God sent
Jesus.(John 3:16; 6:40.) But these people must be righteous(Deuteronomy 28:9, Isaiah
60:21; 62:12, Matthew 13:43; 25:46.) and care about God and his will more than the world and it's
belongings.(Matthew 10:39; 12:49-50; 16:25-26; 19:23, 19:29; Mark 8:35-36; 10:25, 29-30; Luke 9:24-25; 12:22; 17:33; John 6:27; 12:25.) Even more so than a person's
own family.(Matthew 10:34-37; Luke 14:26. See also Jesus disowning his own family in Matthew 12:46-50
or Mark 3:31-35. cf. Luke 8:19-21. Note also that Jesus is never recorded as calling Mary his
"mother," but called her "woman." See John 2:4, John 19:26. Note one last verse, where Jesus
denied Joseph his right as father by saying that being in the temple was his Father's business in
Luke 2:49. Joseph had no business in the temple beyond standard Jewish duties.) To do so is to join
the Kingdom of God, which Jesus preached about for most of his ministry. This is the gospel of the Kingdom,
The Friends and Neighbors are Angelic Beings Back to Top ↑
Jesus says that the man and woman call their friends and neighbors to rejoice with them.(Luke 15:6,
9) Then he says regarding the man and his sheep that
This interpretation is correct, as it is exactly what Jesus said. However, what Jesus did not mention are humans.
It is out of the scope of this article to go in depth into the question of "do people go to heaven immediately when they die?" But theologians give many different answers regarding it. Some say that people do instantly go to heaven.(They point to: Luke 16:22 [claiming that Abraham's Bosom is heaven], Acts 7:55-60 [ignoring the last sentence].) Others say that in death people are unconscious (like sleeping)(They point to Job 14:12; Daniel 12:2; Psalm 13:3; John 3:13; 5:28, 29; 11:11, 13.) until the resurrection. Even others say that some go to purgatory.(They point to: Matthew 5:26 [ignoring context], Psalm 115:17 [ignoring context], Zechariah 9:11 [ignoring context].) While this parable does not point the answer definitively in either direction, based on the lack of humans it seems likely that people do not go to heaven, leading a small amount of credence to "soul-sleep," and some much needed credence to the idea of purgatory. Those that believe in the self-proclaimed apostle may find more verses supporting their desired beliefs, however.
The Rejoicing with Friends and Neighbors is Rejoicing in Heaven Back to Top ↑
Jesus said that rejoicing over finding a lost sheep or a lost silver piece is like the joy in heaven over a
repenting sinner.(Luke15:6, 7, 9, 10.) This goes along with another of Jesus's statements:
As shown in the explanations of the previous symbols, this is well-known, and there is no sect of Christianity that argues against this. There is nothing more to be said on this symbol.
In Conclusion Back to Top ↑
The fundamental lesson of this parable is obvious: God, Jesus, and all of heaven rejoice in joy when a sinner repents. This is a crucial teaching of the gospels, and one that is wonderfully demonstrated by Jesus via a parable. It is good for Jesus to explain to us not just complex parables, but also the simple ones, so that we can be more sure of our interpretations of other parables.
There is one other lesson, often overlooked, that we can learn here. What did the man do with the other
ninety-nine sheep when he went to look for the lost one? He left them in the wilderness.(Luke
15:4.) Thus too does God leave us, symbolically, in the wilderness with just a warning. Jesus said
Merely because we believe in Jesus to the exclusion of all else does not mean that we will not be left in the wilderness where even Jesus warns us that false promises of him may be lurking about.(Matthew 24:26.) We will still suffer as we try to bring more people to Jesus.
However, if we think about it logically, this should not be an issue. Most Christians strongly believe that after death they will be with Jesus forever. If that is the case, then what is sixty to one hundred years of pain, torture, poverty, hunger, illness, or abuse? For every second of that, there will be a million years of peace and joy with Jesus. Considering it morally, should not we do all we can to make everyone else's life the best they can have? We will die once and live twice, but they will live once and die twice. This awful life is their only life. Perhaps this is why Jesus stressed us to pray for our enemies,(Matthew 5:44.) bless them,(Luke 6:28.) provide for them in their evil,(Matthew 5:40.) and let them physically harm us.(Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29.)
Jesus tells us to ignore our present life (See again Matthew 10:39; 12:49, 50; 15:25,
26; 16:26; 19:23, 19:29; Mark 8:35, 36, 36; 10:25, 29, 30; Luke 9:24, 25; 12:22; 17:33; John 6:27; 12:25.
See also Psalms 36:16.) and to focus on heavenly things.(Matthew 6:20; 19:21.)
We can bring nothing with us when we die. This earth and even heaven will pass
away,(Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31.) and so will all out achievements. We can only leave behind a
temporary path to Jesus and his words before heaven and earth pass away. Fear not though, Jesus says: