It amazes me that heaven parties when just one sinner repents. That's what the Book says. Jesus used the examples of the shepherd who lost one of ninety-nine sheep, the woman who loses one of ten coins, and of course the father whose son demands his inheritance and leaves. (The prodigal son).
The shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep in the open pasture and went and found the one lost sheep. When he found it, he brought it home, called his friends and family together, and threw a party. Jesus said, "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15: 7) Did you catch that? Just one!
The woman who lost the silver coin, turned up the lights and searched through the house until she found the one lost coin. When she found it she called her friends and family together and partied in a major way! "In the same way", Jesus says, "I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." There's that number again...one.
Almost everyone knows the story of the Prodigal Son. After he left with his inheritance his father waited eagerly for his return. The Bible doesn't say how long he was away, but it does tell us he squandered away all of his inheritance over a period of time. He became penniless and hungry. In shame he makes his way back to his father who is still eagerly watching and waiting for his return. Instead of giving shame, his father runs to him, embraces him, and throws a major celebration because the one who was lost was now found! In all three scenarios, the lost were found and lots of joy was had. Parties were thrown!
Why does repentance on the earth bring so much joy in heaven? To fully understand the answer to the question we must seek God to understand the significance of "being lost", and then "being found"! We learn from Jesus' three illustrations that it is utterly tragic to be lost. When one is lost, they are lost eternally, unless they repent while still on the earth. To be lost is to be eternally separated from God. Repentance according to Jesus is like being found, after a long, extensive search. Celebration must take place. That which was lost is now found!
Repentance is not remorse. Repentance is a complete change of heart, mind, and direction. The core of repentance is receiving Jesus' infinite grace, mercy, and unfailing love. Only fully trusting one's life to Jesus can make this possible. Jesus said, "I have come to seek and save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)
When Jesus hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the essence of "being lost" as He bore our sins. He was separated from God His Father as He became your sin and my sin. The result is whoever will truly call upon Him in repentance, hungry for life change...He will answer. Whoever receives His grace, mercy, and love will immediately go from "eternally lost" to "eternally found"! When that happens heaven begins to party down!
Repentance is heaven's source of joy. If that's the case, it should also be the church's source of joy. We should be intent on bringing heaven's joy to earth as we lead folks into repentance in the church and out in the world. Ask Jesus to make you an instrument of heaven's joy as you avail yourself to leading others to Jesus. Then get ready to party!