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Luke  ◦   Chapter 15

1The tax collectors and others, considered the worst "sinners" by the religious leaders, were crowding around to hear Jesus.2But the legal theologians of the Pharisee sect, and the lawyers, grumbled, "This fellow befriends sinners and socializes with them."

3So Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you owns a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost. Will he not leave the ninety-nine that are safe and go after the one lost sheep until he finds it?5And when he finds it, he happily puts the sheep on his shoulders6and carries it back home. Then he calls all his friends and neighbors and says, 'Let's celebrate, I have found my lost sheep!'7The truth of God's kingdom is just like this: Not wanting any to be lost, the heavenly beings rejoice more over one sinner who turns away from selfishness and partakes of the Remedy than over the ninety-nine who are already right with God.

8"Or consider a woman who has ten gold coins and loses one. Will she not turn on the lights, look under the furniture and search diligently until she finds it?9And when she finds it, she celebrates with family and friends, saying, 'Be happy and rejoice with me, for I have found my lost coin!'10The truth of God's kingdom is just like this: Not wanting any to be lost, the angels rejoice in the presence of God over one sinner who turns away from selfishness and partakes of the Remedy."

11Jesus continued to teach them the truth of God's kingdom of love: "There was a wealthy man who had two sons.12The younger son went to his father and said, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided the property between the two sons.

13"Shortly thereafter, the younger brother converted all his property to cash and left home to see the world, where he squandered his wealth on pleasures and wild living.14When he was penniless, there was a severe famine in the country where he was living, and he began to starve.15So he found a job working for a citizen of that country — feeding the man's pigs.16No one gave him any food, and he was so hungry that he ate the slop given to the pigs.

17"In this desperate state, he remembered his father and said, 'My father's servants have food to spare; why am I staying here and starving to death?18I will go home to my father and tell him: Father, I've been a fool and sinned against heaven and you.19I don't deserve to be your son; please take me back as one of your servants.'20So he left the pigs and went home to his father. But the father, who had been watching every day for his lost son, saw him coming while he was still far away. His heart was filled with compassion for him and he ran to meet his son, and threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21"The son began to protest, 'Father, I have wronged you and sinned against heaven. I don't deserve to be your son.'

22"But the father, overjoyed, called to his servants, 'Quickly, bring the finest suit of clothing and put it on him. Put the ring with the estate seal and authority upon his finger, and the best shoes on his feet.23Tell the cooks to prepare the finest meal we have ever had. Let's have a party! It's time to celebrate!24For this son of mine was dead but lives again; he was lost but now is found.' So the celebration began.

25"But while all of this was going on, the older brother was working in the field. When he neared the house, he heard the music and saw the dancing.26So he called one of the servants and asked what was happening.27'It's your brother!' he told him excitedly, 'He has come home and your father has prepared the best party we've ever seen, because he has your brother back home safe and sound!'

28"The older brother was furious and refused to go in and welcome his brother or rejoice with his father, so his father went out and pleaded with him.29But he told his father what he thought: 'I can't believe it! I have been slaving away all these years for you and never once broke one of your rules, yet you never had even a small party for my friends and me.30But when this rebellious son of yours, who has thrown away your wealth on prostitutes, comes crawling back in shame, you throw the biggest party we've ever had!'

31" 'My dear son,' the father tenderly said, 'you have had the pleasure of being with me this entire time, and all I have is yours.32But our gladness couldn't be contained; we had to celebrate because your brother was dead and is alive again–he was lost, but now is found!' "