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…
I. IT WAS A REAL BODY THAT APPEARED TO MARY. "Touch Me not;" then it was possible to touch Him. Wisdom never tells us not to do what cannot be done. The voice she heard was not a dead voice; the form she saw was not a form that trembled in the twilight far within the tomb, but one that stood boldly forth in the clear, cheerful day outside.
II. HERE WAS A GENTLE REPROOF, POINTING TO THE LACK OF SPIRITUALITY IN MARY'S FAITH. To her the supreme object of faith could be touched with fingers. She assumes that He has come back to the old scenes to be what He was before. She is content with this and with His unfinished work. The words of Jesus were to discipline and raise her faith, and to break to her the truth that He is no longer to be revealed under the forms of time, and in the world of sensation, but to the soul. That we may be helped to watch against this and avoid the tendency to make a fetish of Him who has now inaugurated the reign of the Spirit; and truly obey the ancient call of devotion, "Lift up your hearts," let us feel that Christ is still speaking to us, in His words to Mary.
III. ALTHOUGH MARY HAD THIS CHECK, ALL THE DISCIPLES MAY TOUCH HIM, NOW HE IS IN HEAVEN. The word "yet" conveys this inference; and the next words, "You are not to touch Me until I am gone; then you may." "When My earthly manifestation ends, your privilege of touching Me begins." We actually have open to us a better and happier privilege than that which Mary thought the ultimatum of dignity and bliss. This true touch is essential to the true life. All knowledge, all sympathy is from touch; there is no food, no drink, no healing without touch. Sin is cured by the Saviour's touch; and this perpetual contact is the medium through which He sends into us the Divine electricity of power and holiness. Only a few could come in contact with a simple human presence at one time; but all, at one time, can touch that which is ascended for the very purpose that it may "fill all things." You may touch Him in the city, in the field, when going out, when coming in, when no eye can see, in the garret, in the cellar, in the deep mine, in mountain heights, in the turmoil of care, in atmospheres in which, without a miracle, no grace can live; and wherever He is thus touched, the manifold miracle of grace is wrought.
IV. THIS MAY HAVE INCLUDED AN INJUNCTION TO MARY NOT TO DELAY HER ERRAND TO THE DISCIPLES. "Do not linger. I am going, and will soon be gone. Go to My brethren. There is no time now for tender intimacies and protracted intercourse; I have this more important employment for you: you must make haste if you would give them fair notice." So now, Christ is always calling us away from the passive to the active; from personal enjoyment to practical service.
1. "Go." In the history of the new life, Christ's first word is always, "Come"; His next, in some form or other, is always, "Go."
2. "To My brethren."(1) Why was this message not sent first to His mother? Through age after age the nations have called her "Our Lady," yet all through the forty days she is passed by in the narrative like one forgotten. This is an inexplicable blank, unless we understand that, foreknowing the idolatry of Mary, it was thus divinely arranged.
(2) Why were not the rejecters of Christ first informed of His resurrection? "Why not go first to the Scribes and Pharisees, &c., and those who complain that they want evidence?" Because of this principle: "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given," &c.; because, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him," &c.
3. "My brethren." He had never so called them before, yet they never seemed to be so unworthy. He might have said, "Go, tell swearing Peter, dull Philip, doubting Thomas, cautious Nathanael," &c. Had they heard of the Resurrection thus, the news might have almost killed them; and they might have said, "He is risen to smite us." But, as if to prevent this, the despatch is addressed to His "brethren." Grand instance this of the truth that He "is not ashamed to call us brethren." Take fresh heart at the thought of it, and learn that it is not in the power of infirmity to unbrother us.
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.