17 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." My problem is that Jesus said here “I have not yet ascended to My Father.” But earlier on the cross He said, “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46). If He was already with the Father, then why did He say that He had not yet ascended to Him?
ESV - 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
I would say that when Jesus told Mary that He had not yet ascended to the Father, He was making reference to the ascension of His body (in glorified form) back to God the Father, which did/would not occur until forty days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3). When He commended or committed His spirit to the Father at the time of His death on the cross, He was speaking of the "breath of life" that God Himself had originally "breathed into" man (Genesis 2:7) (which occurred with man alone); that is a factor indicative of humans being created "in God's image" in a manner in which lower animals are not; and that each human similarly commits to God's care or keeping at the time of his/her death.
The day He died, Jesus’ spirit went to be with the Father (as Luke 23:43, 46 says. Compare what the Apostle Paul said: "Absent from the body...present with the Lord" -- 2 Co 5:8). So His spirit had been with the Father, but His body had not yet ascended into heaven when He spoke to Mary. The bodily ascension took place some 40 days later (cf. Acts 1:3, 9-10). Tim mentioned Acts 1:3 referring to the bodily ascension of Christ. Elijah, too, was taken by a chariot of fire WITHOUT DYING, then caught up to heaven in a whirlwind while his protégé, Elisha, watched. (2 Kings 2:11). But Jesus SOLELY died a redemptive death first through His death on the cross (John 19:1-42), and only then did He ascend to heaven in the clouds as His disciples watched (Acts 1:9-11).
Luke 23:46 and John 20:17 pose a real problem if we believe in an immortal soul doctrine. Jesus on John 20:17 clearly says “.....I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Three full days after His death, Jesus did not ascended to heaven. Nowhere in the Bible Jesus told anyone that upon His death His spirit will ascend to heaven – to the contrary Jesus earlier said that He would lay in the grave for three days and three nights (Matt 12:40). In Luke 23:46 the word used for “spirit” in the Greek manuscript is “pneuma” from where we get the word “pneumonia” - a breathing disorder. So, the word “spirit” from Luke 23:46 correctly translated means “breath.” The breath of life is returning to God - nothing more. Jesus never said that the spirit is going straight to heaven when we die. In John 11:11 He said Lazarus was asleep. Jesus did not say Lazarus was in heaven. In John 11:14 Jesus further clarifies that Lazarus is dead - Jesus calls death sleep. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 refers to death as sleep. He does not want us to be ignorant about what happens when we die (1 Thess 4:14-17). He clearly says that the dead in Christ will be raised at the second coming. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that sinners (we are all sinners) do not have immortality (Gen 3:3) and only God is immortal (1 Tim 6:16). Moreover, an angel tells Daniel he would rest until the last day when he would rise again to receive eternal life – no mention of his immortal soul going straight to heaven (Dan 12:13). The concept of soul immortality was borrowed from pagan Greek mythology and is not taught in the Bible. Peter in Acts 2:29, 34, two months after Christ's death and resurrection is telling that David "is both dead and buried" and "David did not ascend into the heavens." Finally, in John 5:28, 29, and John 14:1-3 Jesus reassured us that He is coming back to resurrect the dead and take the saints to heaven. If the soul is immortal and the saints are already in heaven, Crist’s second coming, the resurrection, and the trip to heaven are utterly unnecessary.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.