His service is perfect freedom
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…” (King James Bible, 2 Timothy 2:12)
On Ascension Day, when Our Blessed Lord returned to Heaven, he led his Apostles out of Jerusalem, over the brook Kedron and up the Mount of Olives, passing on the way the Garden of Gethsemane where he had waited for his enemies six weeks before.
What greater contrast could there be than between these two scenes, between the Agony in the Garden and the Ascension, the one at the darkest hour before the dawn, the other in the full splendour of day.
Nevertheless, as he ascended to Heaven by way of Gethsemane, so also did he enter his glory through that Agony. In Gethsemane his hour of trial had begun and, as the forces of evil clustered round on every side, the temptation was pitilessly pressed upon him to set himself in opposition to God by refusing to drink the cup of suffering and accomplish the work of our salvation. That temptation he conquered, and so untouched by sin, he returned on Ascension Day to the glory which he had enjoyed from all eternity.
And with him he brought back his perfect human nature which he had taken to himself all those years before when, for us and our salvation, he came down from Heaven, but which now bore the marks of the nails and the soldier’s spear.
So he had told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory? (NRSV, Luke 24:26). His sufferings began in Gethsemane where his will triumphed over evil, and fittingly he entered into his glory from the hillside above.