The Lost Sheep
1Now all the tax collectors and sinners [including non-observant Jews] were coming near Jesus to listen to Him. 2Both the Pharisees and the scribes began muttering and complaining, saying, “This man accepts and welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3So He told them this parable: 4“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost, [searching] until he finds it? 5And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6And when he gets home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
The Lost Coin
8“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins [each one equal to a day’s wages] and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls together her [women] friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I found the lost coin!’ 10In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents [that is, changes his inner self—his old way of thinking, regrets past sins, lives his life in a way that proves repentance; and seeks God’s purpose for his life].”
The Prodigal Son
11Then He said, “A certain man had two sons. 12The younger of them [inappropriately] said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ So he divided the estate between them. 13A few days later, the younger son gathered together everything [that he had] and traveled to a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and immoral living. 14Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to do without and be in need. 15So he went and forced himself on one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16He would have gladly eaten the [carob] pods that the pigs were eating [but they could not satisfy his hunger], and no one was giving anything to him. 17But when he [finally] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough food, while I am dying here of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] treat me like one of your hired men.” ’ 20So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe [for the guest of honor] and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let us [invite everyone and] feast and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was [as good as] dead and is alive again; he was lost and has been found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25“Now his older son was in the field; and when he returned and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he summoned one of the servants and began asking what this [celebration] meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But the elder brother became angry and deeply resentful and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29But he said to his father, ‘Look! These many years I have served you, and I have never neglected or disobeyed your command. Yet you have never given me [so much as] a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30but when this [other] son of yours arrived, who has devoured your estate with immoral women, you slaughtered that fattened calf for him!’ 31The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But it was fitting to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was [as good as] dead and has begun to live. He was lost and has been found.’ ”