On Holy Thursday, we contemplated Jesus’ words “This is my Body” and “This is my Blood”. Jesus said that it would be given for the forgiveness of sins. He asked us to do this in His memory. On Good Friday, we contemplated Jesus being unjustly condemned, cruelly beaten, and destroyed on the Cross. It must have been a pitiful scene. Then, on Easter Sunday, He Rose!
What a gift! Jesus did much for us in those 4 days. We think of Holy Week as a time to reflect on Jesus’ personal experience. But it is just as much about us. Do we understand the true significance of Jesus’ gift? In order to understand Jesus’ gift, we must first understand Jesus. In my last reflection, I wrote about the doctrine of “hypostatic union” – Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. Let’s examine this mystery, for it will teach us much about the meaning of Jesus’ Easter gift.
Jesus experienced the events of His Death and Resurrection as any man would. At the Last Supper, He must have experienced the anguish of betrayal, the grief of separation from friends, and the bittersweet emotions of saying last goodbyes. He must have also had quite a rush of conflicting emotions, for his time was at hand. Jesus was born to die for us. His life was never His own, but it belonged to his Father. The time had finally come. In the garden, we remember that Jesus sweat drops of blood. He wished that He would not have to go through with the Agony of the Cross. He felt the abandonment of friends, and the fear of the mob that had come to arrest Him.
Likewise, Jesus must have experienced the injustice of His conviction. He was tortured in so many ways. His pain must have been intense. Yet, He showed compassion to many on His way to the Cross, especially His Mother, Mary. Jesus made sure to entrust His Mother to John the Apostle. Jesus’ death was a real, physical death, just like any other. His Rising from the Dead was a physical Resurrection! He still had holes in His hands, feet, and side, but they were glorified! What must have been Jesus’ reaction when He Rose from the grave? What prayers must have been offered in thanks to His Father? What words must have been said? What encounters with other people must have been had? It must have been amazing.
Yet, Jesus experienced all these things in His divinity as well. In some way, Jesus knew what was coming. He knew that He would be betrayed by Judas. He knew that Peter would deny Him, and that the disciples would flee. He knew about the cruel treatment He would receive. Jesus laid down His life on His own accord. As Jesus said to Pilate, “you would have no power over me unless it was given you from above.” Jesus was no victim of events beyond His control. He did not have to submit to it. But Jesus knew that He had to submit to it, to save us all.
Likewise, Jesus knew that He would Rise again. Jesus knew that He would defeat Satan. He knew that He would defeat death itself. The Divine part of Jesus was incapable of dying. We did not kill Jesus’ divinity. Only His human nature, His human body, died on that Cross. Jesus’ divinity caused His Body to Rise again. The Divine Son of God, Jesus Christ, could not stay dead. He had to live, even though He was born to die.
This is the noble truth of the mystery of Christ – He came to die, so that we may live. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have tried to relate to Divinity. We have been unsuccessful. We have always ended up creating gods in our own image, or creating a concept of god as a Divine master, we the slave. In both scenarios, we do not find our way back to a God who loves us. In order for that to happen, we needed someone to pull humanity and divinity together into one.
Jesus did that in His very Person. In His humanity, He was the representative of the Father’s love. He was obedient even to death. His offering forgave any guilt we could have borne because of our evil intentions. In His Divinity, Jesus gave the gifts that only God could give us – peace in this life – eternal life – freedom from death. When we think about how this is possible, we realize that we have encountered a great mystery. This is a beautiful mystery that we cannot exhaust. It is a mystery for which we will need an eternity to enjoy. We will never fathom this great love of God. But if we only accept it, we will find an eternal gift – the Easter gift of New life.