Revelation 1 & 3:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying: Fear not. I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the Keys of Death and Hades... The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shuts; who shuts and no one opens. Behold, I have set before you an open door which no one is able to shut.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
An open door and a closed one. And he holds the keys to both. We sing a bit of it at Christmas tide: He is the key and He the door to blessed paradise, the angel bars the way no more, to God our praises rise, to God our praises rise!
He's the key to paradise and its door. But what is paradise? Too often we're thinking of what follows after we die. We die and then because of Jesus we go to "heaven." But that's to miss the astonishing joy of what He brings. For paradise isn't just where you go when you die. Paradise is where you live when you step through the door that He has opened and that cannot be shut. You know what that door leads? To the Father's heart. Jesus is the key that opens the door of the Father's heart and you then discover that you have been loved with a love eternal, divine, unutterable, unimaginable. You. Through Jesus you find that the Father has loved you and loves you still and will not ever cease to love you. It's a door that no one can shut. And when you know and taste that, then you see that paradise isn't merely what comes after death, paradise is living even in this world as a child who has a heavenly Father who loves him. What a difference it makes. It's the difference between how folk normally live in this world and how Jesus lived. He IS the beloved Son. He doesn't create a space in the Father for that love to reach out and adopt other children. He eternally IS that space. It's the Father's love that sends Him into the flesh and to the cross.
The cross because there's also another door. A door that is shut and no one can open. You know what he's stuffed behind that door? Take a gander! All your sins and mine and all the sins of this whole world, with all their consequences. Stuffed into that closet and then shut and no one can open. This is His cross, this the huge manifestation of His divine love for you. That His blood locks them away. Shut and sealed and locked. Stop trying to pick the lock and get back to them. They are gone. And this is a gift of His grace.
So heaven that Jesus opens to us by revealing His Father's love and locking away our sins, it's not just future. It's here and now, you can taste it already. We get this when we think of the Sacraments. But we leave it in the third article and miss the great joy of seeing it in the first.
She reached out her hand and touched the hem of His garment. Not Jesus. The hem of the garment Jesus was wearing. And He who is the open door and key to the heart of the Father, who came to lock away sin, hell, and death, Love incarnate flowed right to her and that bleeding stopped and she knew she was healed. But it was only the garment she touched. God comes in the flesh to touch His creation and His creation becomes what it could never have been apart from Him, from Emmanuel, from God with us.
Heaven not far away, paradise not just when you die, the Kingdom here and now, present for you because God's open heart became present for you in this world through Your Jesus. This creation already now is the front porch of your Father's house, and the door inside to the feast is already open and you're just waiting for the dinner bell and the family to gather and the Father's feast to begin.