“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardner, Mary said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” Jesus said, “Mary!” She turned to him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdelene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
In the earliest hours of Easter morning, Jesus reveals himself to Mary. Seeing a living Jesus, she cries and reaches out to him. But Jesus commands her not to hold on to him. Why would the Lord say that to Mary knowing that she would desire comfort and reassurance after the terror of the night?
It is as if Jesus is telling Mary, and so us, not to contain or limit Him – to cast off what is known and safe. Let me be who I am made to be. Let me do what I am made to do.
The revelation of the resurrected Jesus signifies His transformed relationship with Mary. In a tangible way, Jesus moves Mary away from His physical presence towards a spiritual relationship. And this is good news for us too: we may not have the physical Jesus with us in each day, but He has given us the gift of His Spirit to guide and comfort us.
In that moment, Mary, clouded by grief, may assume that Jesus has returned as He was before. That life and ministry can go back to how they were before His death. That nothing has changed.
But we, like Mary, cannot desire for life to remain the same. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are still separated from God. Jesus invites Mary, and us, into a right and reconciled relationship with God. “My Father is your Father, my God is your God.” To know Jesus, to be in relationship with Him, is to know God the Father and be known by Him.