(Jesus said) "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." Luke 15:7
There is a story which comes from the Middle Ages. It talks about an angel who wanted to give God the gift that He might value the most.
The angel went to earth and brought back drops of blood from a martyr, who had died in his Savior's service. Precious though those drops of blood were, they were not the gift God valued most.
The angel then collected coins that a poor widow had given to those who had even less than she. Those coins were special, but they were not the thing God valued most.
The angel hurriedly visited us again and brought back the tattered pages of a Bible, which had been used by a great preacher; the shoes of a missionary who had walked in a heathen land; and the laughter of a child who was loved by Christian parents. "These are wonderful gifts," the angel was told, "but they are not the gift that God values most."
One final time the angel returned to earth where he saw two men sitting near a fountain. One of the men bent down to drink and in the water saw his sin-ravaged face. Overcome by all his sins and the transgressor he had become, he began to cry. The angel, ever so quietly, moved up and collected a tear of repentance. But the angel delayed his return to heaven, so he might listen as the second man spoke of the Savior and the hope that comes from sins forgiven. Once again the first man cried. But this time he cried with joy at the Good News of the Gospel. He had been given faith in Jesus as his Savior. His sins were gone. He was forgiven. He had eternal life. The angel captured one of those tears as well.
The angel brought the tear of repentance and the tear of faith to heaven. Those two tears, mixed together, were presented to God ... and God smiled.
Now this is a story and the truth of the matter cannot be found in any Scriptural text. Even so, the Savior told us that repentance causes joy in heaven.
Writing to the Romans, St. Paul asked, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?" (See Romans 10:14-15.) While we know the Holy Spirit alone gets the credit for the conversion of souls, we are also aware He uses people to share the story of what Jesus has done for us.
It is a desire to create that heavenly joy, mixed with a desire to obey the Savior's command to go, teach and baptize, which motivates your congregation, your Synod, and Lutheran Hour Ministries to "bring Christ to the nations." Like the Lord, we want to see as many forgiven sinners in paradise as is possible.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that I may share the Savior's story of sacrifice with the lost world. If that is too big a task, use me to witness to the circles of my friends, family and neighbors. Then, by Your power, may repentance lead to tears of joy shed here on earth and happiness in heaven. In the Savior's Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries