“Hold on to Jesus”
READ JOHN 20:10-18
10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " 18Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.
As we gather on this Easter Morning, we remember the others in Scripture who also got up early on this day to care for the body of Jesus. Mary had already told the disciples that Jesus’ body was gone (20:2). Peter and John had already run to the tomb to investigate (20:3-9). Now Mary Magdalene was there alone. The Gospels of Mark (16:9) and Luke (8:2) tell us that this Mary had been healed of several evil spirits and was a follower of Jesus ever since. It made sense that she was there. What did not make sense, at least to her, was why anyone would steal Jesus’ body. Jesus of course had not been stolen away or anything of the sort. He had risen from the dead just as He said He would and just as the Scriptures foretold.
What catches my eye in this passage, at least for this morning, is Jesus’ statement to Mary Magdalene after she realizes who He is. She calls Him “Lord.” She calls Him “Rabboni.” She then, if we were able to observe her actions, runs to Jesus and holds on to Him. She has found her Lord and she is holding on tight to Him. She wasn’t just touching Him; she was clinging fast to Him.
Jesus then says something unexpected I think. He says, “Do not hold on to me for I have not yet returned to the Father.” Jesus was not saying that she could not touch Him? How do we know that? A few verses later in 20:27 Jesus tells Thomas to touch His hands and His side. So Jesus’ statement was not about Mary physically touching Him. What was it about? The relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus was about to change drastically. The relationship between Jesus and His disciples was about to change drastically. Jesus was not physically staying with them. He would not physically hold their hands. He was ascending back into Heaven for He had accomplished His purpose on Earth… He had atoned for sin and risen victoriously from the dead.