Jesus appears to Mary M

Main point
Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene as she is crying in sorrow for him at the empty tomb. Although Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus at first, when he says her name she at once knows he is her “Rabboni!” Jesus asks her not to hold on to him, but rather solicits her to go and tell the disciples that he is returning to God.

New light / Truth / Implications

The sequence of finding the empty tomb and then discovering the risen Christ seems significant. The empty tomb is such a rich symbol of the process of dying to self, becoming empty of self, becoming open, humble, and ready for the presence of God to fill you.

It also seems significant that Jesus asks Mary not to cling to him, but rather share the news with the disciples, which she did. One cannot truly share in the joy of the resurrection if one is clinging to the spent physical form. Indeed, it seems there is a big ‘letting go’ here on Mary’s part.

Grief blinds us to truth at times. We may see what we ordinarily do not see, and we may miss some of which we ordinarily see. Mary didn’t expect to see Jesus standing there in the garden, and therefore didn’t even recognize him. But upon hearing Jesus speak her name, she felt no doubt as to his presence.

I have felt this unmistakable feeling of something ethereal speaking my name – when there was no one nearby who was speaking to me. I don’t have any rational explanation for this; likely it is one of those experiences beyond what my thinking mind can comprehend. Maybe this was true for Mary in that moment. But she opens herself to this voice, and follows it.


Jesus told Mary “…I have not yet returned to the Father…tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” This language suggests that Jesus is en route, that his returning is a process, or a journey of sorts. I have read that the three days it took for Jesus to rise up is what is required to liberate the soul from the physical to the astral plane and then to the spiritual or causal plane. I don’t really understand this, and am not certain of the significance. What is your understanding of this process and its implication?

3 responses

  1. Meredith, that’s an interesting subject you bring up – what is the nature of ascension? In the gospel of Luke, the disciples actually watch Jesus float up into the sky until he disappears from view but John doesn’t discribe the ascenaion. Here’s what my version of the NT says in its notes about this line (don’t hold onto me) … … for John and many of the New Testament writers, the ascension in the theological sense of going to the Father to be glorified took place with the resurrection as one action. This scene in John dramatizes such an understanding, for by Easter night Jesus is glorified and can give the Spirit. Therefore his ascension takes place immediately after he has talked to Mary. In such a view, the ascension after forty days described in ⇒ Acts 1:1-11 would be simply a termination of earthly appearances or, perhaps better, an introduction to the conferral of the Spirit upon the early church, modeled on Elisha’s being able to have a (double) share in the spirit of Elijah if he saw him being taken up (same verb as ascending) into heaven (⇒ 2 Kings 2:9-12). To my Father and your Father, to my God and your God: this echoes ⇒ Ruth 1:16: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” The Father of Jesus will now become the Father of the disciples because, once ascended, Jesus can give them the Spirit that comes from the Father and they can be reborn as God’s children (⇒ John 3:5). That is why he calls them my brothers.

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  3. I tend to look at it in a naturalistic and metaphoric way. Remember before he ever died, Jesus had told them he must leave them so the Spirit can come. Now he tells Mary she must not touch him (cling to his material form). That will keep her from the larger blessing God has in store for her.I see this happening constantly– in myself and in other people. To own the pearl we have to sell our field. We constantly place material objects as idols between ourselves and God. You have to give up your worship– of the pastor, or the ideology, or Quakerism, or whatever, in the same way Mary must not touch Jesus. They served a purpose like his flesh did, but they may become obstacles to the greater good. So he disappears into the heavens– as a fleshly form, and we have a chance to graduate or evolve or develop into the Spirit.

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