Imagine. You were holding a bunch of coins. A ten-cent coin dropped to the floor. It rolled under your bed.
Would you crawl under your bed and search for the lost coin? Apparently, you would.
You groped in the dark, sliding your palm and creeping your fingers and dusting your palm across the floor. The cobwebs tickled your nose as it pushed into the bed. You could hardly breathe, choking from the dust and gasping for clean air. You shut your eyes and let your fingers do the seeing. Breathing only when you needed to, your fingers continued to tap, slide and feel.
You thought you felt something metallic. But somehow, your palm sliding and gliding along the dusty floor, gave it another push. It moved further into the darkness of the nether regions of the bed. Sigh.
You sneezed again and then it happened. Your head jerked backwards. Grimacing from the pain, you are reminded of the kind of wood which your bed was made from. Especially if your skull felt the sharp edge of teak wood.
Thinking about the bunch of coins which you had set aside to do this search, any normal human being would have given up, don’t you think? After all, it is just one amongst the many you have.
It would be a nice end to the story if I were to tell you that this lost coin was special. That the bunch of coins you held at the start is a collection of vintage ones. And that the one which dropped and rolled happened to be very rare.
No, as I said, this is a ten-cent coin. It was the day it was minted and has remained so. Common and very normal. It is just change.
But you are anything other than normal. And so, you kept creeping on.
Finally your finger felt something. You quickly slapped your palm onto it. It was not going anywhere anymore. Digging it up with your finger nail and grasping it with your hand, you now slowly reversed yourself out of the bed. Your face was almost touching the floor. Better a dusty face than a swelling head. By now, your white T-shirt had mopped the floor.
You finally stood up. Coin in hand, you proudly shouted and announced to your children that you had found it. They rushed into the room, amazed not by your find but theirs, of a rather crazy, dusty and ridiculously-looking daddy.
This story does not make sense, does it?
You will respond in the same way listening to the three parables which Jesus taught in Luke 15.
Losing one amongst ten silver coins is not worth a troublesome and thorough sweep of the house, let alone announcing the find to her neighbours. She would have been a rather strange woman.
And who would leave ninety-nine sheep alone in the wilderness just to search for one which was missing? We would think the shepherd was negligent. And he has the audacity to throw a party after the successful search. It doesn't make sense.
And what about the unfilial “I wish you had died earlier” son? Squandering all his father's money away and grovelling at the dirt of life the way the man in my story did under the bed, he was a complete shame to his family. Again, he had the audacity to return to ask for forgiveness. The father ran to him, hugged and welcomed him. And like the other two parables, he celebrated his return with a huge feast. Whether we think the father or the son was prodigal (extravagant or rash), the fact is, again, this story does not make sense.
All three don’t, and include my fourth if you like.
The point is, we are only worthy because God deems us to be so. That is how he sees us. Not one amongst many, as if our worth is determined by how many replicates there are. Neither is there any intrinsic value in this lone object or person which deserves such a sacrificial search, extravagant response and celebration. As the song goes, “nothing you can do could make Him love you more and nothing you have done can make Him close the door."
It only makes sense if we realise that our worth is tied simply to how much He values us. That was what Jesus was trying to teach. It is a difficult and slippery grasp, I know.
He loves you. (John 3:16)
He searches for you. (Luke 15)
He died for you. (John 3:16).
He disciplines you. (Hebrews 12:6).
He will marry you. (Revelations 19:7).
You and I mean that much to Him. Don’t ask why. There is no answer to that.
It is just love.