1 Jan 2002

Clinging to the earthly Jesus?

Submitted by theshovel
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Hello Jim. :) I'm struggling with something in particular, but I'm wondering if the answers to some of my problem, might lie in a deeper understanding of the following: JOHN 20:17. - (There's various translations but Jesus says something to Mary like, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father." I know it can't be about 'touch',- because in Mt.28:9, Lk.24.39, and Jn.20:26-27, the disciples DO touch Him. I've heard that 'touch' can be translated to 'cling', suggesting that he was telling Mary not to 'cling' to the 'earthly Jesus, but to look to the 'risen Lord'. (I have more questions), but if I stop at this point, and take it one step at a time, it might all sort itself out! Can you enlighten me on John 20:17 at all? - Thanks, R

Hello, my dear friend!! :)

I think the answer to your problem lies in a simpler understanding of John 20:17 ... and it has to do with a very practical reality found in the more accurate meaning of "touch" as you have heard it translated as "cling". Yes, there is the suggestion that Mary needed to look to the risen Jesus instead of to the earthly Jesus, for even Paul described that same thing:

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 2 Corinthians 5:16

But there is something else Jesus told Mary in that verse,

Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, FOR I HAVE NOT YET ASCENDED TO THE FATHER; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" John 20:17

At that time, even though he had risen from the grave, Jesus had not yet delivered the wham-bang of his finished work! The fact is that he still had to return to the Father so that the very life of God in him would be put within those who were his. Now, it's not as if Mary could have stopped him by any means in physically hanging on to him, for Jesus told her this to make what she was attempting to do be seen for what it was. She was still recognizing him according to the flesh but would soon be given the eyes of the Spirit by which she would see him according to the new creation!

Keep in mind that this encounter would have been told over and over again, not only by Mary, but by all who had heard it told. Try to imagine all these people wondering as to the significance of those words during that period of time when Jesus walked among them after the resurrection ... and then after he had ascended right in front of them until they couldn't see him anymore. And then, imagine those days as they waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Spirit not knowing whatever to expect regarding this mystery ... until WHAM!

You see, they had absolutely no idea what it would be to recognize Jesus according to the new creation because their former perceptions had been formed according to the rules of the fleshly world. Now, there were those little hints before this time, such as when Peter was able to miraculously profess who Jesus was, but those were little more than indistinguishable bleeps across the screen of their confusion ... until the reality was put within them!

Love, Jim

New Testament: 

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I discovered that the Bible was not the life, but that it declared the life. I used to be in bondage to a book, but the book tells me that I am not in bondage to anything! I also discovered that Jesus is The Word of God.   source