"So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead." John 20: 3-9Peter and John ran to the tomb to confirm what Mary had testified: Jesus was gone. And as verses 8-9 indicate, they now had understanding of Jesus' predictions; they saw and believed the prophecies in the Old Testament. They knew he had risen. In the account of Luke, he says that Peter, "went home marveling at what had happened." The Christ was no longer dead. He did, indeed, rebuild the temple in three days. Jesus accomplished what He said He would.
"And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.'" John 20:12-13Think about the anguish portrayed in these few verses. She feared that her Lord's grave was robbed. Hadn't He been tortured enough? Could He not be laid to rest? Could she not pay her respects to the man she owed so much to? Mary was disillusioned. She remained outside of the tomb, weeping. She was convinced His body was stolen. Whether by cruel prank or malice, the Messiah's body was gone. The man who had cast out seven demons from her and changed her life forever couldn't be found. She was unable to appropriately and tenderly care for His mangled body. Weeks earlier she was willing to use a year's worth of wages in perfume to wash Jesus' feet, how much more so did she desire to anoint Him in His death! Mary then encounters an individual whom she assumed to be the gardener and begs him: if he knows where Jesus is laid, please release the information to her so that she may care for Him. Her fear and frustration and distress would soon dissipate with the words that next came from this man's mouth.
"Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned and said to him in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!'(which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" John 20:16-18He had risen, her Savior was alive! This was no gardener, this was the Son of God, the divine Incarnation that saved her soul. She cried out "Rabboni," in what I can only imagine as intense astonishment, extreme gratitude, and pure affection. Her Teacher, the One who had instructed her in righteousness, Jesus Christ was with her once more. He asked her not to cling to Him, and this seems like an odd request. She has just been united with Jesus, and now she's told not to celebrate that miracle with affection. However, this is not because He was afraid of her touch or the perception of such. Not because He didn't love her deeply. Not because of any other reason except that He had more to do–He would be forever alive and ascend to the Father. He asked her not to cling because this was not the form of Him to cling to. We don't cling to Christ as an earthly vessel. We cling to Christ as ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father. In the time leading up to His ascension, Christ opened the minds of His followers to understand Scripture. The brief time He spent with them was necessary so that He could finish teaching His disciples, and so that they, then, could go out a proclaim the message of God's goodness and salvation to all of the world. With the tearing of the veil, not only was God accessible to the Jews but now He was accessible to the Gentiles as well.
"While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple blessing God." Luke 24:51-53The Son of God was now carried away into Heaven. And His disciples were not sad that He was no longer with them. They did not mourn like He was dead. They took great joy in Christ's ascension, and praised and blessed God for it. They anticipated the Holy Spirit, recounting the words that Christ had said in John 16:7: the promise that the Holy Spirit would come, but not until He had ascended to the Father. They understood Christ's words now. They had a task to accomplish. His disciples now bore witness to His greatness, to His defeating of death. Salvation is open to all, and it is Christ's follower's job to bear that witness throughout the world. This story still matters 2,000 years later. This story is still as potent and beautiful and glorious as it was on the day of Jesus' resurrection. He was, and is, and is to come. Christ is alive. He is risen! Sarah Morrison is a staff writer at The Daily Grace Co.