Here is Kenneth Bailey’s description of the parable's parallelism.
INTRODUCTION "Or what woman having ten silver coins,
1. LOST if she loses one of them,
2. FOUND does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?
3. REJOICE 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me,
4. FOUND for I have found the coin
5. LOST that I had lost.'
CONCLUSION 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
(NRSV) (Finding the Lost: Cultural Keys to Luke 15, 93)
Here are ten theological themes Kenneth Bailey finds in the parable. He notes that the last five move significantly beyond the story of the lost sheep. (Finding the Lost: Cultural Keys to Luke 15, 105-107)
- Costly Grace. A good woman pays a high price to find the lost coin.
- Atonement. The above mentioned grace finds the coin. Without this effort the coin will be lost forever. It will not find itself nor can it cooperate in the process. The search is successful. The theme of the atonement is unmistakably present.
- Sin. Humankind is here linked to a lifeless coin, lost and nearly hidden on the floor of a dark room.
- Joy. Again the friends and companions (haberoth) rejoice with the woman. The possibility that they might sit in judgment over her saving efforts is absurd. Heaven itself rejoices! How could the haberim [religious “club” the Pharisees belonged to] fail to do so?
- Repentance. The lost coin is completely inanimate and yet is symbol of repentance. The sheep’s bleating provides some help to the shepherd who seeks his lost one. But here the total unqualified weight of the rescue operation is on the actions of the woman. Thus again repentance is being found.
- The undiminished worth of the coin is a unique emphasis in this parable as noted.
- Christology. The first story presents “Jesus the good shepherd.” Here the text refers on “Jesus the good woman.” The church historically has chosen to recognize and proclaim the first while ignoring the second. The traditional attitude can be seen as disloyal to the teachings of Jesus. The question must be asked: Has not the church sustained a significant loss of potential spirituality as a result?
- Holiness/love as a spring of saving action. If anything, the holiness theme is here dominant. The woman acts primarily “for her own sake.”
- The worth of women. The reader of Luke’s gospel has just read where Jesus likens himself to a mother hen (13:34). Here he is a good woman. Prior to Jesus, Ben Sirach wrote, “the birth of a daughter is a loss” (Sir. 22:3b). Relatively soon after the time of Jesus, the rabbis were praying each day thanking God that they had not been created women (Hauptman, 196). In the first parable Jesus boldly says, “You should be like this ‘unclean’ shepherd.” In this parable he affirms, “I am like this woman! I search for the lost. What about you?” In the process Jesus elevates the worth of all women by his choice of imagery.
- The hope of success in finding the lost. The theme is clearly intensified as noted. The outcome of the shepherd’s search, in spite of his determination, is uncertain. The woman’s diligence is assured.