Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp . . . and search carefully until she finds it?
A certain man had two sons. ... And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together (and) journeyed to a far country.
The parable in Luke 15 consists of three illustrations: a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.
They each answer a question: why is a person lost?
He is lost (a) because his condition is hopeless (cf. the lost sheep). By himself he cannot find the way back to God. He is without “hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2, 12);
b) because he is insensitive as to his condition (cf. the lost coin). He is hardened and without any feeling, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2, 1)
(c) because he is on a pathway of self-will (cf. the lost son). “We have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53, 6).
One illustration comes from the sphere of work, another from that of domestic life and the third from that of a family. In one illustration it is God the Son acting, in the next the Holy Spirit, and in the third God the Father. First search was made “until he finds it”; then “careful” searching ensued, and finally the father “had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him”.
The lost sheep was one of a hundred, the lost coin one of ten, the lost son one of two.
The Lord Jesus used these illustrations with fine distinctions. He wanted people to recognize who they are, and who He is, what they do, and what He does.