Listen:  73 Question 4

This is an excellent question and one that has caused many to wonder.  Let’s read John 20:11-18, “But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.”  It does seem odd that the Lord did not want Mary to touch him.  The mystery grows even deeper when we see in Matthew 28:1-10 that the Lord did allow Mary to touch him.  That says, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.   His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”

How are we to understand this?  We see from the portion in John 20 that the reason the Lord told Mary not to touch Him was because He had not ascended to His Father.  We know that the Lord went to be with His Father at His death, as we read in Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”  However, the Lord had not yet physically ascended, or gone up, to His Father.  At this point only by the Spirit had he ascended.  In Matthew 28, we see that it was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary that held the Lord by His feet and worshipped Him.  If we put both of these accounts together, we can see that it was Mary Magdalene that continued to hold onto the Lord’s feet, as if to keep Him here.  Her emotions were running so high.  She dearly loved the Lord and wanted to be able to have Him here on the earth just as it was before He was crucified.  The Lord had to tell Mary that she could not keep Him here; He must ascend to His Father.  The promise of the Holy Spirit was dependent upon the Lord’s ascension to Heaven as we read in John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”  Christ was not raised from the dead so that He might remain on the earth.  Rather, that He might ascend into the Glory, there to continue in His work for us as our High Priest, our mediator, and as our advocate.  I encourage you to read Hebrews 4:14, 1 Timothy 2:5, and 1 John 2:1.

The Lord then added this wondrous statement in John 20:17, “…go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.“  This shows that because of His death and resurrection, we now have a close relationship with God that had never been had before.  He is now our Father, as we are now His children.  He is now our God in such a personal way that had not been enjoyed before.  Realizing this, may we all consider the value of Hebrews 10:22 which says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”