Monday, April 23, 2018

Mary, don't you weep!

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 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.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 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.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

I'd like to comment on two puzzling features of this scene:

i) Why didn't the Magdalene recognize Jesus by sight? One simple explanation is that was still too dark to see clearly. Evidently, they went to the tomb at first light. In the twilight conditions when she spotted him, the lighting is too dim to clearly see his face. There's a difference between first light and sunrise. 

In addition, she didn't expect him to rise from the dead, which contributed to her mistaken identification. 

ii) Then there's his mystifying exclamation not to cling to him. Commentators are perplexed. I certainly don't know for sure what the explanation is. But I'll take a stab at it.

In the Mosaic cultus, there was the principle of sacred space. Certain objects and places were symbolically holy. These were off-limits to unauthorized personnel. Likewise, they might even be off-limits to authorized personnel at unauthorized times. Contact was only permissible for certain people at certain times. To transgress that was hazardous or fatal. 

Jesus supplants the temple. His resurrection is analogous to raising the temple (Jn 2:19-22). Perhaps, in the dewy bloom of the Resurrection, he was "dangerously" holy. Consecrated, set apart. Temporarily untouchable. 

iii) In addition, as Klink points out in his commentary (846-48), Jesus doesn't plan to stick around. The Easter appearances are intended to confirm the fact of the Resurrection, but he won't be physically accessible for the duration. Rather, the Holy Spirit will take his place. His Resurrection appearances are a temporary presence. In that sense, witnesses shouldn't get too used to having him back–because he will be leaving them to return to the Father.  

1 comment:

  1. I have seen to it pointed out the key aspect was "don't cling to me. I have not yet ascended to the Father". Later the disciples did cling to Jesus ie Thomas. There must have been something about no-one touching his post resurrection body until he had ascended to the Father.