Why did Jesus tell Mary not to touch him after the resurrection?


John 20:1 - 31

ESV - 1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.

Clarify Share Report Asked April 19 2022 Mini Harold Kirkmon

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
My understanding is that the wording used by Jesus that is commonly rendered as, "Do not touch Me," is more accurately translated as, "Do not cling to me."

Mary was apparently grasping Him in a manner that indicated that she wanted Him to remain on earth with their former relationship unchanged, whereas He wanted her to understand that His relationship with humanity had been changed by His resurrection, and that it would shortly be time for Him to return to God the Father.

April 19 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Excellent question, Harold Kirkmon!

I looked bewildered at this too, this way: After his resurrection, Mary meets Jesus and tries to touch him. He stops her and says that He has not returned to the father. Later on we read that Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds. To my knowledge, Jesus still has not returned to the Father. How do I explain the two situations? 

The Greek word that is translated as “clinging” is ἅπτω -- hapto. It has the idea of “to cease clinging,” “grasping tightly,” or “to stop fastening onto.” Jesus did not tell her not to touch Him. She was clinging onto Jesus and He let her know that He must leave. The issue is not about touching, but that He could not remain. Notice in Matthew 28:9 that the women were holding onto Jesus’ feet.

And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Matthew 28:9 (NASB)

The Greek word for “took hold” is κρατέω -- krateo which is translated as “take hold of.” They were on their knees, and holding His feet in act of worship. Yet, Jesus did not tell them to “not touch” or to stop. Mary was attempting to prevent Jesus from leaving. So Jesus told her that He would have to leave eventually and return to the Father. He would not be staying on the earth. He would be returning to heaven where He belonged. A. T. Robertson states, “Jesus checks Mary’s impulsive eagerness.”
This explains why Jesus did not object to Thomas touching His wounds (John 20:26-29). Thomas was not attempting to prevent Jesus from leaving. He was only seeking proof that Jesus had truly returned to life.

We can understand Mary wanting Jesus to remain with her and never leave. She loved Him dearly. Jesus had to help her understand that He could not stay. He was returning to the Father, and He did in Acts. 1:9-11. 9And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 "And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, 'Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.'"

In John 20:17, the word translated “touch” is a Greek word which means “to cling to, to lay hold of.” This wasn’t just a touch; it was a grip. Obviously, when Mary recognized Jesus, she immediately clung to Him. Matthew 28:9 records the other women doing the same thing when they saw the resurrected Christ. —S. Michael Houdmann

April 19 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
The words of Jesus, John 20:17, to Mary Magdalene seem strange. Some believe He was telling her to not to keep holding/clinging on to Him. But that cannot be the case, for the word can mean ‘touch,’ as the many times Jesus touched those He was healing. 

At some point after this, Jesus met the women who were on their way to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. They held Him by the feet and worshiped Him, Matthew 28:9-10, yet Jesus did not prohibit them. About a week later, Jesus told Thomas to touch him, John 20:27.

Something was different. When He said to her, “I am ascending…,” some suggest that this had a future meaning, but the use of the present tense suggests an impending action by the Lord. The solution is that Jesus ascended to the Father on that day and returned. It was perhaps the only time He did that and would also ascend forty days later.

Also, when Jesus appeared to the disciples that evening, “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit…’” John 20:22. It is argued that His actions were symbolic and were fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. But clearly this was done that evening. He had to have gone to the Father and come back. In John 15:26, Jesus spoke of the Helper, the Spirit of truth, “whom I shall send to you from the Father.” This implies Him going into the presence of the Father and fulfilling the promise. Jesus reiterated this in John 16:7. The disciples would have understood He had ascended the day He was resurrected. 

Jesus had hinted about this earlier when at the Feast of Tabernacles, He spoke “concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” John 7:39. Jesus was glorified when He ascended the first time, John 12:16, 17:5, Acts 2:33, I Timothy 3:16, I Peter 1:21.

Just before the Lord ascended, Acts 1:9, He told the disciples to wait for the Promise of the Father, Acts 1:4-5, which was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost ten days later. On the Day of Pentecost the Spirit would come on the assembled crowd in a different sense. 

On the same day as His resurrection, Jesus could have had time to go instantaneously to heaven to offer Himself as the firstfruits before the Father, which was to be done on this day (after the Sabbath), Leviticus 23:10-12. Also, there was time to sprinkle His blood on the altar, Hebrews 9:12, and for the Father to seat Him at His right hand, Ephesians 1:19-21, and for Him to return, sending the Spirit to the disciples.

The prohibition to Mary was because Jesus was ready to ascend that day, though not seen by the disciples. She had to wait until He had presented Himself to the Father and fulfilled His duties for the benefit of mankind.

May 07 2022 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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