1 One day, many bad people and men who took taxes from people were coming round Jesus. They all wanted to hear what Jesus was saying. 2 The Pharisees and teachers of God's Law did not like this. ‘This man is friendly with people that do not obey God,’ they said. ‘He even eats with them in their homes.’
A story about a sheep that a man has lost
15:3Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and to those that taught God's rules. Many of them did not want to say sorry to God.
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 ‘Think about a man who has 100 sheep. He may lose one of them. What does he do then? He leaves all his other sheep in the fields. Then he goes. He looks for the sheep that he has lost. He looks until he finds it. 5 When he finds the sheep, he is very happy. He lifts it up and he puts it across his shoulders. 6 Then he carries it back home. He speaks to all his friends and to the people that live near him. He says, “I have found the sheep that I lost. So come to my house and we can all be happy together.” 7 When one person stops doing wrong things, it is like that. It makes those that live with God in heaven very happy. They will be happier about that one person, than about 99 people who already obey God.’
15:4In this story, a person that is not obeying God is like the sheep. The man that went out to look for his sheep is like God. God looks for him. He wants him to stop doing wrong things. He is happy when the person returns to him.
A story about a coin that a woman has lost
8 Jesus told them another story: ‘Now think about a woman who has ten valuable coins. She may lose one of them. What does she do then? She lights a lamp and she sweeps inside her house. She looks carefully until she finds the coin. 9 Then she speaks to all her friends and to those that live near to her. She says to them, “I have found the coin that I lost. So come to my house and we can all be happy together.”
15:8In this story, a person that was not obeying God is like the coin. The woman is like God. She is happy when she finds her coin. And God is happy when someone turns back to him.
10 When one person stops doing wrong things, it is like that. It makes God's angels and everyone in heaven very happy.’
A story about two sons
11 Jesus then told another story: ‘There was a man that had two sons. 12 The younger son went to his father and said to him, “Father, please give me now my part of your things.” So the father gave both sons the part of his things that each of them should have. 13 After a few days, the younger son sold what his father had given to him. Then he took all the money and left home. He went on a long journey to a country far away. There, he did whatever he wanted to do and wasted all his money. 14 After he had spent everything, there was no rain in that country. There was almost no food anywhere. So the young man had nothing to eat. 15 He went to a man who lived in that country. He asked to work for him. So the man sent him into his fields to give food to his pigs. 16 Nobody gave him anything to eat. He even wanted to eat the food that the pigs were eating. But he had nothing.
15:11In this story, the father is like God. He lets us do what we want. We may do many bad things, but he waits for us to come back. He waits for us to turn away from bad things. When we turn back to him, he is very happy.
17 Then the son began to think about what he had done. He said to himself, “My father has many servants, and they have plenty of food to eat. They even have more food than they need. But I will die here because I do not have any food. 18 So I will go to my father and tell him, ‘I have done bad things against God, and I have done bad things against you. 19 So I am not good enough for you to call me your son any longer. Instead, please accept me as one of your servants.’ ”
20 So he went off to return to his father. But he was still a long way from the house when his father saw him. He felt very sorry for his son and he ran towards him. Then he put his arms round his son and he kissed him. 21 “Father,” the son said, “I have done bad things against God and against you. So I am not good enough for you to call me your son.” 22 But the father shouted to his servants. “Hurry!” he said. “Fetch the most beautiful coat that we have. Put it on him and also put a ring on his finger. Put shoes on his feet. 23 Fetch the young cow that we keep ready to eat on a special day. It is already fat. Kill it and prepare it. We will eat a big meal and we will be happy together. 24 I thought that my son here was dead. But now he has returned to me and he is alive! I thought that he had left me for all time. But now he has come home.” Then they all began to be happy together.
25 While these things were happening, the older son was working in the field. On his way back to the house, he heard music. People were dancing. 26 So he asked one of the servants, “What is happening?” 27 The servant replied, “Your brother has returned home. Your father has killed the fat young cow for him. He did this because your brother is alive and he is well.” 28 When the older brother heard this, he was very angry. He would not go into the house. So his father came out. “Please come in to be happy with us,” he said. 29 “Listen,” the older son replied, “I have worked a lot for you for many years. I have always obeyed you. But you never even killed a young goat for me so that I could be happy with my friends. We could have had a meal together. 30 But now this other son of yours has returned. He has wasted all the money that you gave to him. He has spent it on prostitutes. But you have even killed the fat young cow for him.” 31 “My son,” his father said, “you are always with me. All the things that I have are yours. 32 We thought that your brother was dead. But now he has returned to us alive. We thought that he had left us for all time. But now he has come home. So we must all be happy together.” ’
15:25The older son was like the Pharisees. Many of them thought that they had never done anything wrong. So they were not happy when bad people came to Jesus.