After His resurrection, why did Jesus tell Mary not to touch Him, but later tell Thomas to touch Him?


John 20:17

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.'

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Jesus tells Mary, "Touch Me not" (John 20:17, KJV); but then later, speaking to Thomas, He says, "Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side"...

July 01 2013 14 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Earl Turner
I could be off here, but looking at a number of different versions of John 20:17, it seems Jesus isn't necessarily telling Mary not to "touch" Him. Rather, His statement seems to be about expedience. The NIV states, "Do not hold on to me...". The ESV states, "Do not cling to me...". The NLT states, "Don't cling to me...". The WEB states, "Don't hold me...". The CEB states, "Don't hold on to me..." So yes, there are translations that use "Do not touch me," but it seems from the passage, Jesus is urging Mary to hurry to spread the news--that it really isn't about the "touch." Great question! UPDATE: The Faithlife Study Bible (LEB) commentary states - "Do not touch me - He probably says this because of the urgency of His message, not because of purity laws or an "untouchable" nature. He later invites Thomas to touch His hands and sides."

September 26 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Maly
He told Mary he had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17). The blood was to be offered on the mercy seat (Hebrews 8:3-6).

He appeared to Thomas and the other disciples after this had happened which is why he said peace (Shalom) to them (John 20:19). 

He had made peace by His blood (Colossians 1:19-20).

September 26 2013 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio James Dancer sr
My opinion is that after Jesus' resurrection, his appearance to Mary was before he went to make His report to the father. When you study the priesthood, which was a shadow of things to come about Christ future events, we know that High Priest had a time of purification before coming into the presence of the Holy God. He was to remain separated and not defiled after his purification until His duties was complete. Jesus, in His role as High Priest, after making the sacrifice of himself (He was the Lamb of God that take away the sins of the world) to God could not be defiled by human flesh until He made His report to God like the earthly priests had to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat in the presence of God. 

Therefore, He told Mary not to touch Him because He had not yet reported to heaven that He had  made a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. After making His report to God and returning to earth, it was permissible to be touched by human flesh.

September 27 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Vincent Mercado Supporter Skeptic turned believer, Catholic, father of 3
Jesus did not allow Mary Magdalene to touch him because she will not let him go. Jesus is supposed to ascend to heaven, Mary wanted Jesus to stay.

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. (John 20:1) All night long on my bed, I looked for the one my heart loves. I will get up now. I will search for the one my heart loves. (Song of Songs 3:1-2)

And she saw two angels (John 20:12) The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. "Have you seen the one my heart loves?" (Song of Songs 3:3) "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." (John 20:13)

Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. (Song of Songs 3:4) She turned round and saw Jesus standing. (John 20:14) I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother's house. (Song of Songs 3:4)

December 31 2013 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini George Batarseh Supporter
Jesus is our high priest, 

Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (KJV)

Hebrews 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Holy of Holies, Hebrew Qodesh Ha-qadashim, also called Devir,  the innermost and most sacred area of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, accessible only to the Israelite high priest. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, he was permitted to enter the square, windowless enclosure to burn incense and sprinkle sacrificial animal blood. By this act, the most solemn of the religious year, the high priest atoned for his own sins and those of the priesthood.

KJV  Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Conclusion: If Mary touched Jesus before he went to heaven she would DEFILED  the ultimate Sacrifice ( the lamb of God) .

When Jesus offered Thomas to touch him he had gone into the Father and presented himself as the final holy sacrifice for our sins.

September 27 2013 5 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Rica Ben shushan
According to the purification laws, (Num 19: 11-13) when touching the dead, you are unclean for seven days.
He said to Mary not to touch Him and that He hadn't even ascended to the father yet. Neither did He show himself fully to His disciples until the 8th day after which He was clean. The Scripture was very clear to make that point out.

December 30 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image George Delmindo
My answer would be simple. Based on the Lord Jesus Christ's own statement in John 20:17, he tells Mary not to cling to him or touch him for he has not yet ascended to the Father. He is going to ascend to the Father first. So Jesus said. We know that Jesus ascended to heaven after forty days upon his Resurrection. 

The story goes on that very same day that the Lord showed himself to the other disciples when evening came and greeted them with peace. But Thomas was not with them. When they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord risen from the dead, Thomas did not believe at once and told them that unless he sees in his hands the print of the nails, and put his hands into his side, he will not believe. 

And after eight days when they were assembled again and Thomas was with them, Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the midst and greeted them with peace. It was only then that Thomas believed when he saw Jesus standing in front of him telling him to put his hands into his side.

What do we conclude from the story now that Thomas was allowed to touch Jesus while Mary was not allowed to do the same in the first place? The answer is simple. Jesus had ascended to heaven and had presented himself to the Father after the first day - after that Jesus showed himself to the disciples when Thomas was not with them.

So Jesus ascended to the Father to present himself after his resurrection and then came back and stayed forty days in all. That is the simple truth and nothing more.

It is not clear whether he stayed with the Father the whole week or he went somewhere else after his presentation. The fact that Jesus showed himself to the disciples again on the eight day proves that he was not around the whole week.

February 14 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Phineas Nyabanga
What I think is when Christ told Mary not to cling or hold on to him, he meant that he has done his part so that she doesn't have to be by his side anymore. Therefor Mary should go and tell others so that they may believe.

Thomas on the other hand did not have that close relationship so he was told to come closer so that he may believe in Jesus. 

Also Mary, as having so much love and care for Christ, wanted to nurse his wounds and would not let go of him.

October 01 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Ben Aburime
In my opinion, what the Lord Jesus meant was that Mary should not  cling to Him and follow Him about as of old. Rather, she should proceed to play the role and part (of evangelism), which He had prepared her and others for, over the years. 
It will seem illogical to suggest that  a holy God was at any point in time unholy, after His resurrection. Similarly, no physical bruises or scars or pains could have prevented Him from being touched. If sin or uncleanliness can defile God, then it will be stronger than God and that being so, God will not be Almighty. Happily, He is the Almighty, so we should read into His statement, what He has not expressed said. Again, the case of Thomas is different, being a lesson in faith and faithfulness.

October 03 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Manuel lopez
God is God of all and knows us very well. In his sovereignty, He give us what we need, and in his sovereignty, He does what he does. By faith I believe in him. He did it like that with Mary because she Knew him very well, to accept Him in the new way when she never seen him before. But to the others ones He loved, He needed to do a different way for them to believe. He just used different ways to get to any one of us. He Knows very well our hearts.

February 13 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Stringio Bruce Morgan
It is possible that the veil between Heaven and Earth is thinner than we perceive, and that the Risen Jesus was moving between Heaven and Earth each time he appeared and then disappeared during those last forty days.

Mary wanted him to stay on earth forever, Thomas refused to believe he was back on earth at all.

Neither fitted the plan: that Jesus go, and then send the Holy Spirit to his disciples who would testify faithfully to the whole world that Jesus had risen.

This may be why Jesus made his final Ascension so visibly obvious to the assembled disciples - as the angels said, he had now gone into heaven to stay, and would not return again until he came back to judge the whole earth (Acts 1:11, etc.)

April 27 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Larry Labonte
Jesus had not yet ascended to our Father; Jesus asked her NOT to hold on to him as if he were leaving at THAT moment. That is why he said to go and tell the disciples and he will be with them and her later. NIV states, "Do not hold on to me..." The ESV states, "Do not cling to me..." The NLT states, "Don't cling to me...". So, Mary's passion and joy of seeing Christ again made her hold on to him tight, and he assured her he was not going yet.

July 02 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Marc Ugochukwu
God bless every here. It's important to listen carefully to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ when he said, “I have not yet ascended to the father,” he meant nothing else there but to say, “I have to return myself to the father as a lamb with out blemish to God the father.” Our Lord Jesus spoke plainly without parables; he needed to return first. He then allowed the doubting Thomas to touch him because he had already returned to the father.

I salute your faith.

July 20 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

1385395570 Rev. Calvin Banks
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.'" 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" - and that he had said these things to her.

From the context of the above statement; Perhaps Jesus was informing Mary to be cautious because He was " transitioning from His physical state to the spiritual". Imagine what it would be like if Mary was clinging to Jesus when He suddenly appeared (through closed doors) into the upper room where He met with His disciples.

July 06 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Belfastfella Casper Mcconnell Casper the Irish
Let's think... first, I like this question because when the Holy Spirit puts in little details like this, it is always intended to get us thinking beyond our conventional logic, and to show us something we don't yet know.

Could it be...

the newly resurrected Christ was or had just been through the Event Horizon whereby the physical atoms of His body had been transformed in some way, probably the same way our resurrected bodies will be. Perhaps this takes a wee while to be completely physical again. It is amazing to think that it is this body witnessed by so many that we will also hug one day, and that not just did infinite God become finite man, but there is today a man seated by our Father in heaven.


He had just suffered an excruciating (literally) punishment and was in pain?  Certainly, the great scars remained, then, and will remain. We know this because we will recognise Him by the marks when we meet Him again. And we know from Isaiah that the Messiah's face was grossly disfigured, the beard plucked out. He may have been trying to keep a hood on or something, for Mary thought she was seeing the gardener at 6 in the morning.

September 26 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Swanson
There are many answers on here that are great points, but to answer this question we must realize Jesus is God of the Old Testament as well as the new. Since the time of Adam, God has been following a blueprint that places the unblemished lamb at the center of the entire theme. 

Jesus is our High Priest, King and Prophet. In the Old Testament, many Kings were sometimes King and prophet, but not Priest as was David. Some were Priest and prophet like Samuel, but not King. Since Jesus was our High Priest, He had to follow the strict cleansing as the Old Testament Priests did. Jesus held one more office that no other had been. He was also the Unblemished Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world. Hebrews 9:24 says this: 

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Just like the High Priest appeared once a year in the Holiest of Holies, Jesus appeared once to present His blood to the Father. 

As He did this, God the Father accepted it and our salvation was secured. In the book of Hebrews, we read that when God secured the plan of salvation, Hebrews 6:13: For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself. God was telling Abraham that the promises of God which included salvation would all be secured as a guarantee. The guarantee would be Himself. He completed everything which also included appearing once for us all as the unblemished pure sacrificial Lamb of God. 

If Mary had touched Him, He would have been spoiled. Before Jesus died, death reigned in our mortal bodies, (Hebrews 2:15) And release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to take away the power of death and sin. He is our atonement because the Law and the blood of animals was not pleasing to the Father. 

Hebrews 10:5: Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure, But I come, in the volume of the book. Christ was our complete pure sacrifice and had to be perfect. Jesus is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

February 26 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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