Don’t hold on to me….
Have you ever wondered why Jesus said this to Mary Magdalene in the garden that glorious morning? A week later, Jesus encouraged Thomas to touch Him to prove that He was, indeed, real and living. What was the deal with Mary?
Well, first, let’s go back to why it is significant that women were the first ones at the tomb. Back that day, women had low social status. Their testimony was not admissible in court. Anyone back in that day (both in Jewish or Roman culture) who was trying to make up a “legend” about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, would have never put WOMEN as eyewitnesses. Instead, they would have used men…”important” men such as leaders. Having women as witnesses would have undermined the plausibility of the account with any of the hearers or readers of that day. The only reason why the gospel writers would have put women there as first eyewitnesses is because they (women) really WERE the first eyewitnesses….because there would have been no other motivation except it was the TRUTH. Therefore, this is a theological reminder that the Messiah’s kingdom is radical and an affirmation of the dignity and value of women. Awesome thought, huh?
The morning of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene, after seeing the tomb was empty, went and told the disciples who went running back to the tomb. They look around, see grave clothes but not body, and leave…not fully understanding what had happened yet. Mary, on the other hand, sticks around to grieve. What could have gone more wrong that morning? Her Lord had been falsely accused, brutally beaten and killed and now His body was gone…possibly stolen. When she sees the angels who ask her why she is crying, she tells them: They took away my Lord and I don’t know where!
Then, Jesus speaks to her and asks her the same question and she responds the same. Then…Jesus says her name and that is when she recognizes Him.
In John 20:17, Jesus tells 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.’
Now, when we first read that, we might think that Mary wasn’t supposed to touch Him in His resurrected body and, we might even think that sounds a bit cold-hearted of Jesus. However, let’s look at it from a different perspective: Mary’s.
I’m sure that most of you have seen a video or witnessed or experienced in person the excitement of a wife, child, mother or family member when a soldier returns home from a lengthy deployment. Try and picture that for a moment when you think about Mary. Jesus had saved her life! She had thought He was gone forever but at that very moment He was standing right in front of her! Why would her reaction be any different?
I propose that Mary was (using an expression from my neck of the woods) excited as all get out! Had the Internet existed back in the day, her reunion video would have most certainly been viral and shared on all popular social media outlets.
So, if you can, imagine the emotion being expressed by Mary at this moment and the overwhelming joy she felt when she had been reunited with her loved one and what a gut-wrenching bear-hug that would have followed.
Jesus was simply saying to her: Mary, you can let go now (you’re choking me)…you do not have to hold on to me. I will never ever leave you again. Go and tell my brothers that I’m fixing to return to My Father and your Father…to My God and Your God.
He will not leave us again. Ever. After His resurrection, He met folks where they were: the road to Emmaus, the Upper Room, Thomas, Peter, and the women
Mary, let go. You don’t have to hold on to Me…I’m not going anywhere. Go tell the others! I won’t ever leave again.
What an awesome thought! What an Awesome Savior who MEETS US WHERE WE ARE and will NEVER LEAVE US