Summary: Easter Sunrise Sermonette
“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.
A new kind of relationship was about to begin for Mary, for the disciples, and eventually for all of us. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is not one bound by a physical body. I see Jesus saying to Mary Magdalene, don’t hold on to Me like this… wait and hold on to Me when I have ascended and have returned to God. Hold on tightly to Me in our new relationship.
How do we do that? 2,000 years later… how do we hold on tightly to the Risen Savior? I must admit that holding tightly to Jesus is no easy task. We have so many distractions. We have so many temptations. We have so many other things that we like to hold on to more tightly than Jesus.
I. We must hold on to Him daily through His Word. By staying constantly in the Bible, we will be able to recognize Jesus’ presence in our lives and we will not mistake Him for the gardener. A daily practice of Bible reading and reflection is an important part of holding on tightly to Jesus.
II. We must hold on to Him daily through prayer. I know of no other way to spiritually grasp onto Jesus and bow at His feet than to cultivate the habit of prayer. And make no mistake, it is a habit. We get out of the habit of talking to our friends and pretty soon the relationship is lost. It is the same with our relationships with Jesus… we must talk with Him to remain close to Him. A daily habit of prayer is an important part of holding fast to Jesus.