Touching the Resurrected Jesus
Last year, during one of our Sunday School lessons last year, we talked about what it would be like to meet Jesus face to face. What would be your reaction? Would you dance for joy or would you fall down in wonder and awe?
The Bible tells us about two very different encounters with Jesus after the resurrection. Scripture tells us that Mary Magdalene was one of the first women at the tomb on Easter morning and then told the disciples who came running to the tomb to see for themselves.
But notice what happens after the disciples discovered that Jesus was not there – they went back to where they were staying. Mary, on the other hand, stayed at the tomb to grieve. When Jesus approached Mary, she thought he was the caretaker, but when he spoke her name she was struck with the realization that this was indeed Jesus! Mary immediately wanted to grab hold of him, hug him and never let him go, but Jesus stopped her.
Was this an unreasonable response from one of his most devoted followers? A week after his first appearance on Easter, Jesus appeared in the upper room. Thomas, as we know, was not there for the original visit and doubted that anything so wonderful could have happened.
Jesus stands in front of him and encourages Thomas to touch him to see that it is really true. Struck by the reality, Thomas falls at the feet of Jesus and declares, “My Lord and My God!”
Now, you may wonder why Jesus does not want to be touched, when Mary approached him but later encouraged Thomas to touch him. To understand this, we need to look at the language Jesus used.
In the John 20:17 Mary did not merely want to touch Jesus, she wanted to cling to him, and never let him go. However it was not Jesus’ plan to stay in the world always, and his resurrection was not to be seen as His promised return. That is why Jesus said he was returning to the Father and that he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them. Fellowship with Jesus would continue, but it would
be a spiritual fellowship and not a physical fellowship.
In effect Jesus was telling Mary, “I know you want me to stay here and be with you, like none of this has ever happened, but our relationship is changing, I am going to heaven, and my Comforter will come and be in my place. Mary, you need to start walking in faith and not by sight!”
Now, when Jesus speaks to Thomas, it was to strengthen his faith and remove any doubt, because Thomas proclaimed that he just couldn’t believe until he could physically touch the resurrected Jesus.
Both Mary and Thomas needed more faith; Mary to let go and Thomas to
believe, Mary to loosen her grip, Thomas to strengthen his.
Are you struggling with doubt? Reach out and touch the resurrected Christ, because He is there.
Are you frightened you might lose your grip? Relax, He will never leave us.
Jesus has sent us the Holy Spirit who will never leave us nor He ever forsake us.
As we finish our journey this Lenten season we need to remember that Jesus wants us, like Mary to walk with faith and not by sight.