The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

Jesus makes a puzzling expression to Mary Magdalene on the first Resurrection morning. Mary had gone out to properly embalm the body of Jesus because there hadn’t been time due to Sabbath restrictions.

When Mary arrived at the tomb, it was empty. She was understandably upset and sent for Peter and John. They both entered the tomb and inspected it. It seems that they finally understand that Jesus would rise from the dead. John 20: for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.[1]

Mary is Puzzled by Jesus

Mary has assumed that the body of Jesus has been stolen and doesn’t understand that He has risen from the dead. Even when she looks in the tomb and sees the angels, they ask why she is crying.  Then as she is leaving the Tomb area, she sees a person she assumed was the gardener. Again, she askes if the body has been stolen and she is willing to bring it back.

Jesus brings Mary back to reality by simply call her name. John 20: 16 “Mary!” Jesus said.. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). Mary recognizes her risen Lord. At this point it seems that she reaches out to cling to the one she loves.

John 20: 17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.[2]

I can understand that Jesus didn’t want Mary to cling to Him. But what does it mean when Jesus says, for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father…‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God?’”[3]

Scholars are Puzzled

The statement Jesus makes to Mary is even more puzzling in light of later statements that same day when Jesus invited the disciples to touch Him. (Luke 24:39).  At this point Jesus sounds like He needs to ascend to the Father, but why?

While scholars have puzzled over this statement it helps to understand the Jewish context of First Fruits and its fulfillment through Jesus. Just as the earthy High Priest offered the sheaf of barley in the Temple, Jesus was going as our High Priest to offer His atonement to His Father in the heavenly temple. He needed to bring the First Fruits offering to the throne of grace on our behalf. Once this was accomplished, He invited the disciples to examine His body.

1 Corinthians 15: He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said…20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.[4]

To hear more about a puzzling expression, listen here:

[1-4] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. 

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