Now the tax-gatherers and the notorious sinners were everywhere in the habit of coming close to Him to listen to Him;
and this led the Pharisees and the Scribes indignantly to complain, saying, "He gives a welcome to notorious sinners, and joins them at their meals!"
So in figurative language He asked them,
"Which of you men, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in their pasture and go in search of the lost one till he finds it?
And when he has found it, he lifts it on his shoulder, glad at heart.
Then coming home he calls his friends and neighbours together, and says, `Congratulate me, for I have found my sheep--the one I had lost.'
I tell you that in the same way there will be rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner--more rejoicing than over ninety-nine blameless persons who have no need of repentance.
"Or what woman who has ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully till she finds it?
And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, and says, "`Congratulate me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.'
"I tell you that in the same way there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one repentant sinner."
He went on to say, "There was a man who had two sons.
The younger of them said to his father, "`Father, give me the share of the property that comes to me.' "So he divided his wealth between them.
No long time afterwards the younger son got all together and travelled to a distant country, where he wasted his money in debauchery and excess.
At last, when he had spent everything, there came a terrible famine throughout that country, and he began to feel the pinch of want.
So he went and hired himself to one of the inhabitants of that country, who sent him on to his farm to tend swine;
and he longed to make a hearty meal of the pods the swine were eating, but no one gave him any.
"But on coming to himself he said, "`How many of my father's hired men have more bread than they want, while I here am dying of hunger!
I will rise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you:
I no longer deserve to be called a son of yours: treat me as one of your hired men.'
"So he rose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and pitied him, and ran and threw his arms round his neck and kissed him tenderly.
"`Father,' cried the son, `I have sinned against Heaven and before you: no longer do I deserve to be called a son of yours.'
"But the father said to his servants, "`Fetch a good coat quickly--the best one--and put it on him; and bring a ring for his finger and shoes for his feet.
Fetch the fat calf and kill it, and let us feast and enjoy ourselves;
for my son here was dead and has come to life again: he was lost and has been found.' "And they began to be merry.
"Now his elder son was out on the farm; and when he returned and came near home, he heard music and dancing.
Then he called one of the lads to him and asked what all this meant.
"`Your brother has come,' he replied; `and your father has had the fat calf killed, because he has got him home safe and sound.'
"Then he was angry and would not go in. But his father came out and entreated him.
"`All these years,' replied the son, `I have been slaving for you, and I have never at any time disobeyed any of your orders, and yet you have never given me so much as a kid, for me to enjoy myself with my friends;
but now that this son of yours is come who has eaten up your property among his bad women, you have killed the fat calf for him.'
"`You my dear son,' said the father, `are always with me, and all that is mine is also yours.
We are bound to make merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has come back to life, he was lost and has been found.'"