“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”—Luke 15:10
I remember one morning reading my Bible and asking God why the angels rejoiced in Heaven when one sinner repented. What was the reason for this—why the Heavenly fuss–I wondered, when God had other children to rejoice about? Wasn’t my soul just as precious as that of the man on the street or that of a woman in a brothel or the skeptic up in the mountains? It was an honest-to-goodness question, and I was aware that I probably sounded like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Still, I wanted to know if God had an answer for me.
I went about my day, my mind momentarily releasing the question to make room for all the work I had to do. By the time I hit mid-afternoon, I was ready to relax. I kicked back my shoes, fluffed the pillows of the living room couch, and turned on the VCD player to watch the Disney cartoon, The Lion King. The cartoon started with the song, “The Circle of Life” with its catchy African chant: “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba…” I watched with delight as the great lion Mufasa appeared with his lioness wife. The baboon Rafiki then followed, and in one glorious, sweeping moment, held up Simba, the lion cub, high up for all the animals of Pride Rock to see. The animals rejoiced– most of them bowing their knee in honor of the cub prince. Suddenly, I felt a tug in my heart and a strong whisper: “That is what happens!”
Immediately, the question I had earlier asked God flooded my mind. Revelation, crystal clear, came in even stronger waves. It was then that I understood an important principle: just as the lion cub, Simba, was being recognized for His identity—his royal identity—there was also the recognition and honoring of a ROYAL IDENTITY being given to a sinner who repented.
A sinner who repents takes on a new identity in Christ—that of a son or a daughter of the Most High King. This identity is recognized by the angels and celebrated.
We must understand that God is a KING. Psalm 47 says this of Him:
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.
He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves.
God has gone up with a shout,The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.
When a person repents from sin and gives his life to Jesus, he is ushered into God’s family where he is given the royal robes of the Kingdom. He can call God “Abba Father” and can run to Him any time. He becomes a co-heir with Christ, too (Romans 8:17). Just as the animals in The Lion King rejoiced at the introduction of the cub prince, so does Heaven rejoice and honor the introduction of the children of the Heavenly King with shouts of jubilation.
Needless to say, I had to pause the film and laugh and cry at the same time. God had a wonderful way of answering my question. No doubt, He was probably smiling at that very moment, knowing that His royal princess was catching His heart.
Having salvation is a beautiful thing. When a sinner repents, we can rejoice with the angels in Heaven and celebrate the love of our Great Father and King.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.