Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them" (15:1-2) ... Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (15:7)Compare the canonical concern for the excluded with the version that appears in the Gospel of Thomas.
Jesus said: The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep; one of them, the biggest, went astray; he left (the) ninety-nine (and) sought after the one until he found it. After he had laboured, he said to the sheep: I love you more than the ninety-nine. (Logion 107)It might be the case that the root of Logion 107 has an equally ancient provenance as the canonical versions. (See here.) However, the Gnostic use of its underlying elitism sets it apart from the canonical Gospel accounts. The parable itself does not lead inexorably to any particular teaching point, hence the three different conclusions drawn in each version of the parable. Perhaps Jesus used the parable a number of times in differing contexts resulting in the variety of endings. Or perhaps one or other is the closest to the original context and meaning of the parable when first uttered. Scholarly opinion on this point will, most likely, remain moot.
|Daniel Bonnell, The Lost Sheep|