Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
Repentance is a great thing, or the angels of God would not rejoice over it. It is no insignificant matter. If we did not understand it, and all the consequences that flow from it, and did not quite perceive all the reasons why angels rejoice, yet we should naturally conclude that it must be great from this fact. Suppose we entered a strange city end found the bells ringing out a merry peal from every tower, the cannon roaring out their harsh joy from every fort, the streets at night blazing with illuminations, every countenance cheerful, the whole land vocal with joy, and all keeping jubilee together; why, we should say, "This great and intelligent people would not rejoice thus over a trifle; some great thing must have taken place"; if we did not know what it was. Oh! enter heaven when a sinner has repented, and find it all jubilee! Must it not be a great thing that would fill heaven thus with bliss? The repentance of a sinner does it. And then mark, it is not the conversion of a nation like China, with its three hundred millions of inhabitants, nor India with its myriads of idolaters, nor blood-stained Madagascar, nor Tahiti, nor New Zealand: not the conversion of an empire, but the conversion of a single soul. Not merely the soul of some great persecutor, like Saul of Tarsus, whose conversion may at once change the aspect of a country, and release it from intolerance and murder, and introduce it to liberty and joy. Not the conversion of a mighty monarch, who, once a despot, is now become through Christianity the father of his country. Not the conversion of a philosopher, whose great name might be supposed to add celebrity to Christianity. Not the conversion of a great poet, who had prostituted his genius to celebrate vice, and now consecrates it to the glory of God who gave him the intellect. No, but the conversion of "a sinner," apart from all the personal circumstances in which that sinner might be found: any sinner; the inhabitant of a workhouse — the pauper's child — or the pauper himself; for it is repentance, stript of all that is adventitious, all that might otherwise gather around it. It is the dropping of all these, and it is the bowing down of any human heart in the attitude of submission to God, and in the purpose of forsaking sin: it is that, which angels rejoice over.
(J. A. James.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.