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Joy in Heaven

15 1Many tax collectors* and bad people came to listen to Jesus. 2Then the Pharisees* and the teachers of the law began to complain, "Look! This man (Jesus) welcomes bad people and even eats with them!" 3Then Jesus told them this story: 4"Suppose one of you has 100 sheep, but he loses one of them. Then he will leave the other 99 sheep alone and go out and look for the lost sheep. The man will continue to search for the lost sheep until he finds it. 5And when he finds the sheep, the man is very happy. The man carries the sheep 6to his home. He goes to his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Be happy with me because I found my lost sheep!' 7In the same way, I tell you, heaven is a happy place when one sinner changes his heart. There is more joy for that one sinner than there is for 99 good people that don't need to change their hearts. 8"Suppose a woman has ten silver coins,* but she loses one of them. The woman will take a light and clean the house. She will look carefully for the coin until she finds it. 9And when she finds the lost coin, she will call her friends and neighbors and say to them, 'Be happy with me because I have found the coin that I lost!' 10In the same way, the angels of God are very happy when one sinner changes his heart."

The Son That Left Home

11Then Jesus said, "A man had two sons. 12The younger son said to his father, 'Give me my part of all the things we own!' So the father divided the wealth with his two sons. 13Then the younger son gathered up all that he had and left. He traveled far away to another country. There the son wasted his money like a fool. 14He spent everything that he had. Soon after that, the land became very dry, and there was no rain. There was not enough food to eat anywhere in that country. The son was hungry and needed money. 15So he went and got a job with one of the people of that country. The man sent the son into the fields to feed pigs. 16The son was so hungry that he wanted to eat the food that the pigs were eating. But no person gave him anything. 17The boy realized that he had been very foolish. He thought, 'All of my father's servants have plenty of food. But I am here, almost dead because I have nothing to eat. 18I will leave and go to my father. I will say to him: Father, I sinned against God and have done wrong to you. 19I am not good enough to be called your son. But let me be like one of your servants.' 20So the son left and went to his father.

The Son Returns

"While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. The father felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him. He hugged and kissed his son. 21The son said, 'Father, I sinned against God and have done wrong to you. I am not good enough to be called your son.' 22But the father said to his servants, 'Hurry! Bring the best clothes and dress him. Also, put a ring on his finger and good shoes on his feet. 23Bring our fat calf. We will kill it and have plenty to eat. Then we can have a party! 24My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found!' So they began to have a party.

The Older Son Comes

25"The older son was in the field. He came closer to the house. He heard the sound of music and dancing. 26So the older son called to one of the servant boys and asked, 'What does all this mean?' 27The servant said, 'Your brother has come back. Your father killed the fat calf to eat. Your father is happy because your brother came home safely!' 28The older son was angry and would not go in to the party. So his father went out to ask him to come in. 29The son said to his father, 'I have served you like a slave for many years! I have always obeyed your commands. But you never killed even a goat for me! You never gave a party for me and my friends. 30But your other son has wasted all your money on prostitutes.* Then he comes home, and you kill the fat calf for him!' 31But the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me. All that I have is yours too. 32We must be happy and have a party; because your brother was dead, but now he is alive. He was lost, but now he is found.'"

tax collector(s) Jews hired by the Romans to collect taxes. They often cheated, and the other Jews hated them. Pharisees The Pharisees were a Jewish religious group that claimed to follow carefully all Jewish laws and customs. silver coins One coin, a Roman denarius, was the average pay for one day's work. prostitutes Women that are paid by men for sexual sin.

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