Image: Irises, North Garden, Virginia, May 2019
John 20:17 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. 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the
Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
resurrection appearance was to Mary Magdalene (cf. Mark 16:9).
to Mary Magdalene In John 20:17 constitute one of the most intriguing and
perhaps difficult to understand statements of the risen Jesus. Ryle says, “No
doubt the language is somewhat mysterious and ought to be delicately and
Why did the
risen Christ ask Mary not to touch him?
What is this
reference to his ascending to the Father? Was there a preliminary ascension to
the Father after his resurrection and a return to appear for forty days before
his final ascension?
Was Mary as
a woman disciple and non-apostle forbidden to touch him, while only the twelve were
given the privilege of handling his body, including touching hid wounds, as
Thomas did (see 20:27)?
being conveyed here?
unlikely that this is a reference to “two ascensions” since such a thing is not
mentioned anywhere else in the Scriptures.
the point as being simply to communicate to Mary not that he could not be
touched at all but that his body had been changed. This is no longer his earthly
body but his heavenly, resurrection body. His physical presence in their midst
is only temporary, until such time as he ascends to be seated at the right hand
of the Father. It thus points forward to the reality of the age in which we now
live as disciples, wherein we cannot physically touch Christ with the hand,
hear him with the ear, see him with the eye, and yet we do hear his voice in
the Word, and we believe.
commissions Mary to go to the apostles and to tell them both of his
resurrection and his ascension.
this command (v. 18). This is an evidence of her faithfulness, for which she
was remembered by the early Christians and often called by them, “the apostle
to the apostles.”
first to Mary Magdalene Christ, in part, demonstrated the importance and value
of women disciples. Women were not called to be apostles. They are not called
today to be elders or deacons. But they are called to believe in the
resurrection, to obey Christ, and to serve the Lord in their own spheres of
So, let us
learn from Mary and grow in our obedience.
and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle