Musings From the Gospel of John – Number 62

The Scriptures covered in this post are from John 20:11-18 NASB which reads as follows:

“But Mary was standing outside the tomb, weeping; so as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb; 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. 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 put Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and yet she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Thinking that He was the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you put Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging 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, and My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.”

As you recall, Mary Magdalene had initially come to the tomb early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, and noted that the tombstone had been removed from the entrance of the tomb, whereupon she went to Peter and John and the three of them went back to the tomb. Upon noting that the burial cloths were in the tomb, but the body of Jesus was gone, Peter and John went away again, to their own homes. Mary must have looked inside the tomb on her initial visit, because she had told Peter and John that the body of Jesus was not in the tomb and accordingly missing. Mary remained at the tomb after Peter and John had both entered the tomb and then departed, and John 20:11 picks up what happened next.

Mary stooped to again look into the tomb and observed two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been laying, one at the head and one at the foot, of where Jesus had been laid. Mary responded to the question asked by one of the angels and then turned around, one would presume, at the entrance of the tomb and responded to Jesus, who was behind her, who then asked her again, as the angel had done, why she was weeping and who she was seeking. Note that John does not say that Mary had gone into the tomb. Mary did not recognize Jesus, but that could possibly have been due to poor light due to it being early morning. Mary thought that the man behind her was perhaps the gardener, and responded to the questions Jesus had voiced. Then Jesus calls Mary by her name and she does recognize Him and called Jesus “Teacher”.

So why did Jesus tell Mary not to cling to Him? has an overview on this very question, which can be viewed here. The response given by may be correct, but I personally wasn’t overly satisfied with that answer. I did find another response that takes into consideration Jesus serving as our High Priest and you can view it here. It is indeed interesting to note that when Jesus appeared to Thomas, it was on the 8th day after His resurrection, and at that time, on the 8th day, Jesus encouraged Thomas to touch Him.

My personal opinion is that Jesus’ High Priest implication, is more in line with the specific timing in which Jesus told Mary Magdalene to not cling or hold onto Him, than the answer that is provided by But there are additional things to also consider.

Keeping that possible implication in the back of our minds, what is of primary importance to answering this particular question is the explanation that Jesus Himself gives to Mary, for her not to cling to Him or attempt to hold onto Him, because, Jesus tells Mary that He has “NOT YET ASCENDED TO THE FATHER“, and also what Jesus tells Mary to tell His disciples. Tell them “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” I don’t think that this is Jesus’ final ascension that Jesus is talking about, as in after the 40 days of His appearances. What I am thinking is that this is Jesus’ INITIAL ascension to His Father and our Father, having completed the sacrifice He was asked of His Father, to complete.

We do know that the Tabernacle/Temple and Priesthood was a physical representation or shadow of a spiritual reality, or a foreshadow of Jesus in His role as our High Priest, (Hebrews 7, Hebrews 8, Hebrews 8:4-5, Hebrews 9) after having made the sacrifice He alone could and did make.

We also know that 7 days of separation from any sinners that could defile the ordination of a priest or the High Priest fulfilling his office prior to the Day of Atonement was required. (Leviticus 8:33).

Thusly, Jesus telling Mary Magdalene to not approach Him until the 7 days was completed in the heavenly realm would be in keeping with this requirement and explain why on the 8th day, having Thomas touch Jesus would be then alright.

However, there is a problem with this 7 day thinking when you look at the timelines associated with the other appearances of Jesus after His resurrection, because some of them did fall within the 7 day period and Jesus did invite others to touch Him. This link refers.

So what is the correct answer to why Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling or touch Him? Short answer is I do not know. Maybe the 7 days was not required and all Jesus had to do was ascend to His Father and then return back to earth and it was alright for Jesus to be touched after that, during the remainder of the 40 days.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this, especially if you have something to add or consider.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!


  1. Bruce, I agree with the reasoning that Jesus, as the High Priest, was not to be touched until He had presented His sacrifice to His Father.
    I’ve been intrigued by what I’ve heard and read, that in biblical times the High Priest had a rope tied around his ankle when he entered the Holy of Holies for the annual atoning sacrifice, and that if he somehow died within, he was to be pulled out by that rope, since no one else was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies. But I haven’t been able to find a passage or verse about it in Scripture. Do you know if that’s in the Bible, and if so, where?


    • Hi Annie, yes I’ve heard about that too. I’ve also heard that there was a designated backup. I’ve never encountered anything in Scripture that confirms this so it could be just tradition. Considering that Exodus chapters 28-35 gives clear instructions on what the High Priest could and could not wear, that attached rope I would think, would fall into question. I’m thinking the same as you with regard to not being touched, but the 7 days would not be applicable because Jesus was without sin and already sanctified. Once Jesus had gone to the Father and presented His sacrifice, as our High Priest, He could and did come back during the next 7 days and could be touched. I don’t definitively know though, as in for sure. Hope this helps! God’s blessings to you and yours, Annie!

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  2. Interesting post…

    What comes to mind as I’m reading the post is the difference between ‘clinging to’ and ‘touching’ between Mary and Thomas.

    Besides that, I believe Jesus presenting the atonement to the Father and returning thereafter for 40 days makes perfect sense.

    Thank you for sharing this mind intriguing post.


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