Noli Me Tangere
John 20:17-18
Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father…

The lesson is to a soul brought into the conscious presence of the Lord. Oh, to be in that condition! Mary Magdalene had wept because of her Lord's absence, and longed to find Him; and now she has her desire: He stands before her. Oh, that we knew where, we might find Him (Job 23:3)! Her conduct in holding Him by the feet was natural, and yet it was forbidden by a higher wisdom than that of mortal men.

I. THE CAUTION. "Touch Me not."

1. We may blunder even in our closest friendship, and need a prohibition. We have never need of greater caution than in our nearest approaches to God. Courtiers must be most careful in the throne-room.

2. We may carnalize the spiritual. This has ever been a tendency with even the best of the saints; and it has misled many in whom affection has been stronger than intellect.

3. We may seek most passionately what is by no means essential. The assurance of sense, by touch or otherwise: when the assurance of faith is far better, and quite sufficient. The detaining of one who has no intention of going.

4. We may crave what were better further on. When we are raised to eternal glory we shall be able to enjoy what now we must not ask.

5. We may be selfish in our enjoyments. Staying to contemplate alone by ourselves, when we ought rather to bless others by publishing the blessed news (2 Kings 7:9).

II. THE MISSION. "Go to My brethren." She would have preferred to stay, but Jesus bids her go.

1. This was better for her. Contemplation alone may degenerate into the sentimental, the sensuous, the impracticable.

2. This was better for them. They heard the best of news from the most trustworthy of informants.

3. This was unquestionably done by this holy woman. What she had seen she declared. What she had heard she told. Women are said to be communicative; and so there was wisdom in the choice. Women are affectionate, and so persuasive; and therefore fit to bear such a tender message as we have now to consider.

III. THE TITLE. "My brethren." Our Lord, of design, chose this title to comfort His sorrowing ones. They had so acted as almost to cease to be His followers, disciples, or friends; but brotherhood is an abiding relationship. They were —

1. His brethren, though He was about to ascend to His throne. He was still a man, though no more to suffer and die. He still represented them as their risen Head. He was still one with them in all His objects and prospects.

2. His brethren, though they had forsaken Him in His shame. Relationship abiding, for brotherhood cannot be broken. Relationship owned more than ever; since their sense of guilt made them afraid. He was a true Joseph to them (Genesis 45:4). Relationship dwelt upon, that they might be reassured. Never let us omit the tender sweetness of the gospel, its courtesies, benedictions, and love-words, such as the "My brethren" of the text before us. If we leave out these precious words we shall mar the Master's message of grace.

IV. THE TIDINGS. "I ascend unto My Father, and your Father." This message was meant to arouse and comfort them.

1. By the news of His departure they are to be aroused.

2. By the news of His ascension they are to be confirmed.

3. By His ascension to the common Father they are to be comforted with the prospect of coming there themselves. He is not going into an unknown country, but to His home and theirs (John 14:2).

4. By His ascent to God they are to be struck with solemn awe, and brought the more reverently to look for His presence among them. See how practical our Lord is, and how much He values the usefulness of His servants. Have we not somewhat to tell? Whether man or woman, tell the Lord's brethren what the Lord hath told to thee.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Jesus said to her, "Don't hold me, for I haven't yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers, and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Noli Me Tangere
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