I’ve been doing a good deal of study lately from Luke 15. It’s the chapter where we read about those prodigal sons (see previous blog). The parable of the sons is not the only parable in Luke 15. As a matter of fact, it’s the third in a trilogy of parables. You’re probably familiar with the other two parables – one about a lost sheep, and the other about a lost coin (if you’re not familiar with them, stop and give them a quick read).
While there is much to learn from this trilogy of parables, there is one primary point: that God is concerned about the lostness of humanity – the same way the shepherd, woman, and father are concerned about what they’ve lost. That’s the big idea behind the entire chapter of Luke 15. It’s God’s love for lost humanity that fuels His concern; a love that resulted in Jesus walking the earth, seeking and saving those who were lost (see Luke 19:10).
When something of value is lost, it’s a big deal when it gets found. This is clearly emphasized in all three parables. In each one, the seeker celebrates when the lost object is found. Sometimes in Christian circles we talk about the rejoicing that takes place in Heaven when a lost person is found. We talk of how angels rejoice when a person is saved from their sin. Where do we get such an idea? The answer: right out of the second parable in Luke 15. The concept of angels rejoicing over a person’s salvation is not just a notion we made up.
Or is it?
If you look a little closer at what the Bible actually says, you’ll notice something about this heavenly celebration. Luke 15:10 doesn’t actually say that angels rejoice when a lost person is found. Look for yourself: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Did you notice the details? There is rejoicing in the presence of angels.
Now, my guess is that the angels indeed are rejoicing when a lost sheep is carried into the fold. But that’s not the emphasis of Luke 15:10. The emphasis is on the rejoicing that’s taking place in the presence of the angels. So who is rejoicing in their midst? Again, look at the verse: “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God.” The angels of God. God’s angels. The angels who surround God in His heavenly dwelling place are witnessing something extraordinary. They are watching God celebrate. If the angels are rejoicing, it’s only because the Object of their desire is leading the way.
In recent days I’ve seen several people come to faith in Jesus. It’s been a cool thing – something that excites me very much. But whatever amount of celebration that takes place in my heart pales in comparison to the celebration coming from the Good Shepherd who actually went out and found these lost souls. Earth has not seen the kind of celebration that God Himself does. He breaks out into singing (Zeph 3:14), hangs a huge banner that says, “I’m in Love” (Songs 2:4), and celebrates His union with the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8). He kills the fatted calf, strikes up the band, and turns it loose when the one He loves is no longer lost!
We will never really grasp how much God loves us. But it would be a little clearer if only we could see Him celebrate.