Today marks 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The dominoes of that moment tipped governments all across then-communist eastern Europe: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania—and eventually led to Russia itself.
The moments around those days were marked by an exuberant joy and unashamed tears. The unrestrained celebrations included dancing on the wall and in the streets, boisterous singing—and laughter, always the laughter. People who hours before had been enemies sworn to one another’s destruction were now embracing like long-lost family.
Watch this archival footage of the news coverage here:
And so today, even in the face of increasing world tension and challenges, as people remember, there is a celebration all over again.
Why? When freedom comes calling, the only possible response is sheer joy.
Every time I watch coverage of that day, I am reminded of the promise of the gospel. Every one of us is held captive by the despotic terror of our own sin, our relentless pursuit of self-rule and insane loyalty to soul-killing idols. That makes us sworn enemies of God, the King of ages—and paradoxically insures that we remain prisoners of war, guarding our own gate and locking our own chains. “Every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.”(Jn.8:34)
But in the Incarnation, Jesus comes across the guarded walls of our self. He wages war with love and mercy, with grace and truth. By His bloody cross and empty tomb, Jesus means to tear down the walls and set us free. ‘And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn.8:36) Faith is simply trusting the person of Jesus and His gospel to be our liberator.
It doesn’t end there. After Jesus comes, and breaks our chains to set us free, He takes us Home to our Father. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal.4:7) We run to the embrace the One who was our sworn enemy, but to Whom we now belong as family. “If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” (Rom.5:10)
Is it any wonder then, how Jesus describes the heavenly response when the prison walls fall for even one rebel– like me? “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) That is so cool. I have always loved the picture of an angel party over a sinner’s conversion. I think about angels dancing on prison walls and laughing over broken chains and singing.
But that’s not what the text says. Look again. “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) Who do the angels behold? Who is always before their gaze? God Himself!
The celebration is God’s deep gladness over one sinner coming Home. It’s exactly what Jesus describes a few verses later at the end of the stories of the prodigal sons, in which the Father spies a repenting sinner stumbling home, “ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20ff) —and ordered the party – complete with music and singing and dancing—to begin.
That’s what the angels saw when I trusted Christ. They saw holy God—King of the Ages – rejoicing, dancing and singing—over me! And if you have trusted Jesus, He has done the same over you.
When freedom comes calling, the only possible response is sheer joy.
So, watch the coverage of history today and let it prompt you to remember that if you have trusted Jesus alone to be your liberator and hope, there is a heaven–sized celebration that may still be going on. It’s the eternal party with Jesus – not me– at the center. There’s singing and dancing and the laughter—always the laughter—of the redeemed.