Reading: John 20: 1-18
Jesus’ life and story are marked by a few events that are very significant to our faith. First, the incarnate birth – born partly human to a mother and partly divine to a heavenly father. Born of a virgin, without sin since birth. His birth and the events surrounding it indicate to us that Jesus is a unique and special gift from God.
At the end of His life, Jesus experiences two other significant events. The resurrection and ascension come close together. Between His holy birth and divine death, Jesus teaches and heals for about three years, providing us an example of how to live and love both God and our fellow man.
While Jesus did raise people from the dead during His earthly ministry, He raised them back to mortal life. In the resurrection of Jesus, it was God who raised Jesus to immortal or heavenly life. Jesus’ resurrection is significant for both of these reasons. Just as God alone initiated Jesus’ human birth, God alone brings Jesus back home to heaven. God welcomes Jesus back to His eternal home as Jesus returns to the Father.
The ascension, or returning to God’s right hand, is the second significant event at the end of Jesus’ earthly life. Jesus tells Mary, “I am returning to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.” In this statement Jesus declares where He is going and also includes us in the relationship. God is our Father and our God too.
As Jesus returns to His rightful place beside God, He returns changed. He has lived on earth. He has felt what we feel. He returns to heaven and now intercedes for you and me. He now stands between God and us. The perfect lamb who was slain now offers mercy and forgiveness and grace. He who was without sin now provides the way for us who struggle with sin the way to eternal life. He ascended so that one day we too could ascend. For this incomprehensible gift, we say thanks be to God!