“There is joy in heaven when…”
Think about that amazing statement. Heaven is not an empty void, nor is it the make-believe stuff of fairytales. “Heaven is my throne,” the LORD said in Isaiah 66:1.
And there is joy in heaven. Why? When? Over what? The answer might surprise you. Listen to Jesus in Luke 15:
“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)
“I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (15:10)
“‘…let us celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (15:23-24)
How could we possibly know what emotion is experienced in heaven when sinners on earth turn away from their sin? The only way we could know is if someone who had been in heaven told us.
In Luke 15, as Pharisees and scribes are grumbling about Jesus “receiving” tax collectors and sinners, the Son of God responds with three parables: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. All three parables have a “lost” element on the front-end; all three describe “joy” on the back-end.
On earth, we sometimes struggle with how God will react if we’re honest about our shortcomings and sins. Is he ashamed of me? Will he refuse my feeble efforts to turn things around? Have I forever blown it? Will he laugh in my face? Is it already too late to come home?
How could we possibly know how heaven feels and responds when sinners on earth repent? The only way is if someone who had been in heaven told us… which is exactly what Jesus did in Luke 15. The answer, in one word, is JOY.
Do you know your heart is not right with your Creator? Do you know your transgressions have created a separation between you and the Giver of life? Don’t let the fear of how God will react if you’re honest about your shortcomings and sins keep you from doing what you need to do today. When we come to ourselves and take steps toward home, there is joy in heaven.
The One who has been there told us so.