Challenging Your Theology

John 20:10-18

10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes. 11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). 17 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.’”18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

As I study today’s passage, all I can think is, “wow!”  I love reading through the bible like this and stopping to pause and think about the details we commonly miss.  The first thing that struck me was : Mary was not frightened by the angels.  We can certainly speculate why (she was too sad, she had seen angels before, she didn’t realize they were angels, etc), but in many other times throughout the scriptures, grown warrior men fell to their faces in the presence of angels.  The angels are usually quoted with saying, “don’t be afraid!” or “do not fear!”  Here, Mary talks to them like they are her close friends.

The second and certainly more interesting thing I noticed in here is when Jesus essentially pushes Mary away.  We see in verse 16 and carrying into 17 Mary’s recognition of Jesus and his statement, “stop clinging to me.”  Previously, I always read this little exchange to mean Jesus telling Mary to chill out and go tell the others.  However, if we look at the original text, we discover something a bit deeper.  The Greek word that is translated into “clinging” here is haptomai, which is to mean, “1) to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to 1a) to touch 1b) of carnal intercourse with a women or cohabitation 1c) of levitical practice of having no fellowship with heathen practices. Things not to be touched appear to be both women and certain kinds of food, so celibacy and abstinence of certain kinds of food and drink are recommended. 1d) to touch, assail anyone.”  I wanted to provide the whole definition because it seems here that there was more going on here than Mary simply grabbing Jesus’ arm or even hugging Him.  Now, I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist…mainly because I consider it a waste of time…but this seems to indicate an intimate relationship between the two.  Even though some denominations of the Christian faith stand by their assertion that Jesus was never married, especially with the recently found ancient papyrus that contends He was, the reality is it doesn’t really matter!  Personally, I hope He was, this way maybe us men would be a little more inclined to pay attention to how He treated women so we can treat ours better.

Now that I have you all riled up and questioning church doctrine and your own beliefs about all this, I’m going to switch gears with one last thing I’d like to point out.  Jesus instructs Mary to go tell His friends (the implication here is His disciples, as referenced in John 15:15).  Again, I have habitually read this one way: that Jesus is announcing he is preparing to ascend to heaven to be with God the Father.  However, what is the implication if Mary repeats word for word what Jesus instructs her to say?  If it hasn’t clicked yet, read this word for word with me, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.”  Jesus doesn’t instruct Mary to say, “tell them I am going to the Father, our God.”  No, He is telling her to repeat a phrase which indicates her own ascension!  Take a moment here to scoff, question, doubt, rebuke, or whatever is going through your mind…then come back to this train of thought.

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Yes, Jesus is going to ascend 40 days from this point we are reading.  We already know that part.  However, I see here something much deeper.  It is Jesus affirming through us and introducing to us a new dialogue of what is the “new normal”.  Jesus preached for over 3 years that “the Kingdom of God” is at hand.  Additionally, the term “born again” that we read in the New Testament literally means to be born from above.  Was Jesus foretelling His ascension?  Yeah, that’s a simplistic way of looking at it.  But I challenge you to understand the implications of His resurrection – we have an opportunity to ascend.  The God of the Jews, Yaweh, is the same God that Jesus ascended to be in relationship with and the same God we get to have our own relationship with.  We get to live above this world.  Certainly, we are in this world, but we can be of a different world: aliens in a foreign land.

I hope this challenges you today.  I hope it causes you to stop and think about the words we read in the bible.  I hope it helps you see the importance of looking through the fog and noise of this world and realizing what Jesus accomplished for us.


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