1 Tax collectors and sinners were all crowding around to listen to Jesus. 2So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses started grumbling, “This man is friendly with sinners. He even eats with them.”
3Then Jesus told them this story:
4If any of you has 100 sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won't you leave the 99 in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? 5And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder 6and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbors and say, “Let's celebrate! I've found my lost sheep.”
7Jesus said, “In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over 99 good people who don't need to.”
8Jesus told the people another story:
What will a woman do if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them? Won't she light a lamp, sweep the floor, and look carefully until she finds it? 9Then she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, “Let's celebrate! I've found the coin I lost.”
10Jesus said, “In the same way God's angels are happy when even one person turns to him.”
11Jesus told them yet another story:
Once a man had two sons. 12The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.
13Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. 14He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat.
15He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. 16He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing.
17Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father's workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! 18I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. 19I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’ ”
20The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.
21The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.”
22But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. 24This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
25The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What's going on here?”
27The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.” 28The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.
His father came out and begged him to go in. 29But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. 30This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.”
31His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.”