15 Jesus became increasingly popular among notorious sinners—tax collectors and other social outcasts. 2 The Pharisees and religious scholars noticed this.
Pharisees and Religious Scholars: This man welcomes immoral people and enjoys their company over a meal!
Jesus (with another parable): 3-4 Wouldn’t every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it? 5 When you find the lost sheep, wouldn’t you hoist it up on your shoulders, feeling wonderful? 6 And when you go home, wouldn’t you call together your friends and neighbors? Wouldn’t you say, “Come over and celebrate with me, because I’ve found my lost sheep”? 7 This is how it is in heaven. They’re happier over one sinner who changes his way of life than they are over 99 good and just people who don’t need to change their ways of life.
8 Or imagine a woman who has 10 silver coins. She loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the whole house, and search diligently until that coin is found? 9 And when she finds it, doesn’t she invite her friends and neighbors and say, “Celebrate with me! I’ve found that silver coin that I lost”? 10 Can’t you understand? There is joy in the presence of all God’s messengers over even one sinner who changes his way of life.
11 Once there was this man who had two sons. 12 One day the younger son came to his father and said, “Father, eventually I’m going to inherit my share of your estate. Rather than waiting until you die, I want you to give me my share now.” And so the father liquidated assets and divided them. 13 A few days passed and this younger son gathered all his wealth and set off on a journey to a distant land. Once there he wasted everything he owned on wild living. 14 He was broke, a terrible famine struck that land, and he felt desperately hungry and in need. 15 He got a job with one of the locals, who sent him into the fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man felt so miserably hungry that he wished he could eat the slop the pigs were eating. Nobody gave him anything.
17 So he had this moment of self-reflection: “What am I doing here? Back home, my father’s hired servants have plenty of food. Why am I here starving to death? 18 I’ll get up and return to my father, and I’ll say, ‘Father, I have done wrong—wrong against God and against you. 19 I have forfeited any right to be treated like your son, but I’m wondering if you’d treat me as one of your hired servants?’” 20 So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.
21 The son said, “Father, I have done a terrible wrong in God’s sight and in your sight too. I have forfeited any right to be treated as your son.”
22 But the father turned to his servants and said, “Quick! Bring the best robe we have and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. 23 Go get the fattest calf and butcher it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate 24 because my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and has been found.” So they had this huge party.
25 Now the man’s older son was still out in the fields working. He came home at the end of the day and heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27 The servant said, “Your brother has returned, and your father has butchered the fattest calf to celebrate his safe return.”
28 The older brother got really angry and refused to come inside, so his father came out and pleaded with him to join the celebration. 29 But he argued back, “Listen, all these years I’ve worked hard for you. I’ve never disobeyed one of your orders. But how many times have you even given me a little goat to roast for a party with my friends? Not once! This is not fair! 30 So this son of yours comes, this wasteful delinquent who has spent your hard-earned wealth on loose women, and what do you do? You butcher the fattest calf from our herd!”
31 The father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. 32 Isn’t it right to join in the celebration and be happy? This is your brother we’re talking about. He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found again!”