Jesus had been preaching to a crowd of publicans and sinners. The publicans of those days were the collectors of taxes for the Romans, and it was a constant complaint against them that they exacted more from the people than they had any right to do. So they were looked upon as wicked men, although they were not all bad. Now the Scribes and Pharisees, who made a great show of religion, so far as outward forms went, were greatly shocked at seeing Christ sitting with publicans, and said, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”
Then Jesus asked them, “What man of you, if he has a hundred sheep, and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after the lost one, until he has found it? And when he has found it, he lays it upon his shoulders and takes it home, rejoicing; and calls together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.
“Again, what woman if she has ten pieces of money, and loses one, does not light a candle, and sweep the hoiuse, and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece of money which I had lost.’
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner that repenteth.”