“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
This scriptures takes place just after Jesus has resurrected from the dead after being crucified three days before. One of Jesus’ followers, Mary, went to his tomb and found it empty, and then Jesus appears to her. She’s overwhelmed with joy that he has returned and is not, in fact, dead. Her first instinct, it seems, was to embrace him, whether a hug or even falling to her knees and holding his legs, it doesn’t say. But Jesus’ response makes it clear that she is physically holding on to him. It makes sense. You think someone has died, and you see them alive, you probably would want to touch and feel them to be sure!
But Jesus’ response to her holding on to him tells us a lot about our own mission today. He told Mary not to cling to him, but to go away and tell his disciples that he has risen and will ascend into heaven. There are two things about this that seem significant to me.
The first is that Jesus doesn’t want us to stay where we are comfortable, but to go out and tell the good news. Jesus doesn’t want all of our lives as Christians to be spent in a church or in sterile bubbles of Christianity where we’re never challenged and never have the opportunity to share the gospel. He wants us to go away from where we feel safe and tell everyone who needs to know that he is alive and that he is returning to heaven. That brings us to the second point: he isn’t returning alone.
Notice that he says that he is ascending to “my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Through his death and resurrection, Jesus bridged the gap between us sinners and our perfect God. He redeemed us, gave us a chance to have the very same relationship with God that he does, as God’s own child. Through him, we can call God our Father. Through him, we have community with God himself.
Help me not to cling to what is safe and comfortable but to instead go boldly into the world to tell everyone about the good news of Jesus. Thank you for making me one of your own. I love you Father, and I praise your holy name.
In Jesus’ Name,