One day, the tax collectors and the sinners had all gathered around Jesus. The Jewish spiritual leaders, known as Pharisees, murmured, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” They thought that Jesus was wrong to be with people they considered as bad.
Since Jesus knew what they were thinking, He decided to teach the spiritual leaders through stories. He said, “A man had a hundred sheep and one strayed away. Would the man leave ninety-nine sheep on the hill and go looking for one lost sheep or would he let it stay lost?”
Then Jesus answered His own question, “The man would leave His ninety-nine sheep and go looking for that one lost sheep. And, when he finds it, he would joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. He would call his neighbours and friends to celebrate. He would tell them to rejoice with him as he had found his poor lost sheep.”
“In the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents rather than ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent,” Jesus explained.
He wanted the people to realize that each one was special and God was interested in each and every person. He did not want anyone to go the wrong way. Jesus then told them another story
In this story, there was a woman who had ten silver coins. If she lost even one of the coins, she would light a lamp and sweep the whole house and carefully look for it. Then, when she found it, she would call all her friends and neighbours, have a feast and celebrate.
In the same way, there is great joy and celebration in heaven among the angels when even one sinner repents for his bad ways and turns to God. Jesus then decided to tell the people the parable of the prodigal son.
Once, there was a rich man who had two sons. While the elder son stayed on with their father and worked hard in the fields, the younger son took his share of the money and left home. He went to a distant country, and spent his money in careless living.
Soon, the younger son’s money was over and there was famine in the country. He looked around for work. A man told him to take care of his pigs. So, the young man looked after the pigs and ate the pigs’ food.
One day he said to himself, ‘The servants of my father have enough food to spare, while I am hungry! I must go back to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against you. I am not worthy to be called your son, so take me as your servant.”
With this thought in mind, the younger son went back to his father. His father saw him coming from a distance. He was very happy and ran to his son to embrace him.
The son said, “I am not worthy to be called your son.” He confessed that he had done wrong. But the father was not bothered. He arranged for a feast to celebrate the return of his son.
The man told his servants to bring the best robes for his son, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. A fatted calf was to be killed for the feast. Then, the father said, “My son, who was lost, is now found!”
That evening, the elder son heard music, as he neared the house. He asked one of the servants what was happening. The servant said, “Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fatted calf to celebrate.” The angry brother refused to go in.
He said to his father, “I have worked faithfully for you all my life. I never disobeyed your orders. Yet, you never gave me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours, who has wasted your money, comes home, you kill the fatted calf for him!”
The father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we have to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found again.”