The Pharisees and strict Jewish teachers
who came to listen to Jesus were horrified at the
people standing by them in the crowd. They were the
kind of people who broke the rules and the laws that
they followed very strictly. Those people had
no business mixing with respectable Jews like themselves.
Jesus ought to know better than to let them be there.
"I'm told he even goes to dinner with them," one Pharisee exclaimed in disgust.
"He certainly can't be a teacher sent from God if he welcomes such outcasts," his friend remarked.
"God will have nothing to do with sinners like them," the other agreed.
"It will be a day of rejoicing in heaven when people like that are destroyed for ever."
Jesus heard the muttered conversation. He turned to look at them, as they kept a little apart from the rest. He told them a story: Once there was a shepherd who owned 100 sheep. One night when he counted them there were only 99. One was missing. He only had two choices. He could settle down for the night with the 99 thinking that the missing one didn't matter, or he could leave all 99 sheep and go look for the lost one. Well, he decided that the one missing sheep was very important to him so he went searching for it. Even though he was very tired he got up and retraced the path he took with the flock that day. He looked down over every steep rock and shone his lamp in all the dark bushes and holes. Finally he heard the sound of a faint, weak bleat. It was his lost sheep!! He lifted the stray sheep onto his shoulders and started for home, happy and joyful. When he got back he threw a party so that everyone could share in his joy over the lost sheep that he found.
Jesus told the men "That's the way God feels about people. There is more happiness in heaven about one lost person brought back to God than over 99 good people who don't need to change their ways."