John 20:10-18

John 20:10-18 … I’m constantly amazed by the fullness of God’s Word. Here we only have 9 verses, describing a brief scene at the tomb on Resurrection Day, but the words convey much more than ordinary text. Peter and John were summoned to check out the empty tomb and are now gone, leaving Mary Magdalene there, not weeping or crying as some translations have it, but sobbing, which has deep emotional content not present in the other words of grief. Her love for her Lord (v.13) compels her to be there, to find His body, to assure His safekeeping; her heart is engaged in this activity.

She sees the angels in the tomb (v.12). Frankly that would have gotten my attention. It had to be an arresting thing to see a couple of angels there. But Mary is focused on one thing only, her Lord, and so she turned her back on the angels and saw a person she supposed to be a gardener. It’s interesting that she didn’t or couldn’t recognize Jesus at first, just as the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:16) failed to recognize Him at first. But so it was, until He called her name, “Mary!” What a moment! To hear your name, called out by one you love and have been searching for, is high emotion; it’s fulfillment, resolution, satisfaction and more. And so Mary exclaims “Rabboni!” which means more than “Master” or “Teacher,” it means My Teacher!” indicating her strong attachment to Him.

Then we come to verse 17, which is a more difficult verse to get your head around, but it is has detail that is rich in meaning. “Do not hold on to me…” causes some to wonder. Why not hold on to Him? Several of the best commentators suggest that it’s because there is now a new relationship. Before His crucifixion, the disciples, Mary Magdalene, and a number of other women who were fully devoted followers, were able to see, touch, feel, and talk with Him. But now, a new relationship is identified. He is going to ascend to the Father God. He won’t be with them in a physical sense, but an even more vital relationship is going to exist: He will be “in them” (John 14:20) through the indwelling Holy Spirit. But there’s more. He will ascend to His Father, but the Father is also your heavenly Father. He has adopted you into His family. This is a totally new thing.

Many people assume that everybody is somehow a child of God, but that’s not the teaching of Scripture. Everyone is His creation, but only those who come to Christ in faith are adopted into the family of God in a new relationship (Ephesians 2:19). That new relationship is a family relationship and consists of brothers and sisters (“my brothers,” John 20:17), toward whom we have an obligation of love and care, even closer and more caring than the siblings of our natural birth. That’s the message Mary of Magdala carried to the disciples that morning: He lives, He is going to the Father and we have a new relationship! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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