Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:
Sinners and tax collectors draw near to Jesus triggering the suspicion and disgust of those who thought of themselves as good and upright. It’s a feature of the work of Jesus and of the first believers that they are focused on attending to the discarded and disregarded. What follows are three stories about lost things… A lost sheep; a lost coin; and a lost son. These, in turn are followed by stories of calling to account… The rich man with his corrupt manager and the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus. (Luke 16:) Do you think that the Jesus, and the author of Luke had something in mind here? Indeed this continues in Chapter 17 of Luke which discusses the need for repentance and continual forgiveness.
Jesus is calling for a new way of responding to God. One that is founded on mercy for the lost and welcoming the sinner.