Because tax-gathers and sinners kept coming to Jesus to hear him, the Pharisees and scribes complained, |This man welcomes sinners and even eats with them!| So he told them this story: |What man of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go and hunt for the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and when he gets home calls together his friends and says, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that I lost.' So, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who is truly sorry and promises to do right than over ninety-nine upright men who have no need to do so.
|Or which one of you women, if she has ten silver coins but has lost one, does not light a lamp, sweep the house thoroughly, and search carefully until she finds it? After finding it she calls together her friends and neighbors and says, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I lost.' So, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who is truly sorry and promises to do right.|
[Illustration: (C) Curtis Publishing Company
Seeking the Lost Sheep
Painted by Herbert Moore]
Jesus said, |There was a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, 'Father, give me the part of your property that belongs to me.' So the Father divided his property between his two sons. A few days later, the younger son got together all that he had and went into a distant country where he wasted his money in reckless living. After he had spent it all, there was a great famine in the land, and he began to be in want. So he agreed to work for a man of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine; and he was ready to eat even the pods that the swine were eating, for no one gave him food. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough to eat while I die here of hunger! I will go to my father and say, 'Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'
|So he went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt pity for him, and ran and threw his arms about his neck and tenderly kissed him. Then his son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick, bring a coat, the best, and put it on him and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead but has come back to life, he was lost but has been found.' So they began to make merry.
|Now the elder son was out in the fields, and as he came near the house he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what all this meant. The servant said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf because he has him back safe and sound.' And he was angry and would not go in so his father came out to reason with him, but he answered, 'See all these many years I have worked for you and never disobeyed one of your commands, yet you never gave me so much as a young goat that I might have a feast with my friends. But now when this son of yours comes, who has wasted your money with wicked women, you kill the fatted calf for him!' His father answered, 'Son, you are with me always and all that I have is yours; but it was right to make merry and rejoice because of your brother, for he was dead but has come back to life, he was lost but has been found.'|