17 And Jesus said (says) to her: “Do not touch Me , for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and tell them: “I am ascending to My Father and your Father and My God and your God.””
18 Mary Magdalene came announcing to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord”; and that He had said these things to her.
Jesus instructs Mary not to touch Him. However, in Matthew’s gospel we see that the women did grasp hold of Jesus:
And as they went, Jesus met them. “Greetings!” He said. And they ran to Him, held His feet, and worshiped Him – Matthew 28.9 (NLT).
Also a week later Jesus instructs Thomas to put his fingers into the nail holes in His hands, and to thrust his hand into His side.
Yet He forbids Mary to touch Him.
Our understanding may be that Jesus told Mary not to touch Him before she had actually done so.
However, perhaps we should understand that she had already prostrated herself before Him and had clasped His feet. The word ‘touch’ carries with it the meaning to clasp, or to grab hold of, to cling to, and to fasten on. If we take this understanding we can see that Jesus is telling Mary that this was not the right time for her to be holding on to Him.
Mary would have been delighted to see Jesus, alive and well. Her emotions would have been one of wanting to worship and adore Him.
However, the time was not right since Jesus had an urgent and important task for her to do, which was to go to take a message to His brothers (the disciples).
In our desire to worship Jesus there can be times when we need to be redirected by Jesus and to embark on a more urgent and important task. The focus of Mary was on adoration, which was great. Yet her focus had to be re-aligned by Jesus.
The same is true for us; in our worship we must allow Jesus to re-align our focus so that we are able to change direction and do that for which He has called and chosen us.
This does not stop us from worshipping and adoring, instead it increases it, because as we embark on His mission for us we will bring more honour and glory to Him.