The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
Why did Jesus forbid Mary to touch Him after His resurrection, but permit others to do so?
Jesus was not a whimsical, capricious individual. There is a very definite reason for everything Jesus did! We read in John 20 that Mary Magdalene came to Jesus' tomb very early, before sunrise Sunday morning, "when it was yet dark" (verse 1). She was startled to find that the large stone covering the entrance to the grave had been rolled away. Filled with dismay, she reported this to the disciples; and Peter and John investigated. But they could not find Jesus' body (John 20:2-10). After the two disciples left — still early in the morning — Mary wept for sadness, thinking someone had stolen Jesus' body. her misery, Jesus revealed Himself to her, in order to comfort her. But He told her, "Touch me not." Why? Jesus continued, "For I am not yet ascended to my Father..." (verse 17). Jesus had NOT YET risen to God's throne in heaven to be ACCEPTED by the Father as the firstfruits from the dead. Turn, now, to your Old Testament for the full explanation in the book of Leviticus. "Speak unto the children of Israel," God told Moses, "and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then shall ye bring a sheaf of the FIRSTFRUITS of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, TO BE ACCEPTED for you: on the morrow AFTER the Sabbath the priest shall wave it" (Lev. 23:10-11). This wave-sheaf offering was a TYPE of Jesus Christ. Notice! "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept" (I Cor. 15:20). "Christ the firstfruits" (verse 23). The firstfruits had to be ACCEPTED of the Father. After His resurrection Christ had to ASCEND to the Father, to be accepted by Him. At this time He had not yet ascended. That is why He would not permit Mary Magdalene to touch Him. Notice further what He told her "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17). After Christ WAS accepted by the Father in heaven, He returned that very same day and revealed Himself to the disciples. Now it was all right for them to take hold of Him and worship Him. He revealed Himself to the two Marys even while they were on the way to see the other disciples, "And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him" (Mat. 28:9). After Christ had been accepted by the Father that morning as the FIRSTFRUITS from the dead, typified by the ancient wave-sheaf offering, He permitted the disciples to touch Him.
In Luke 16:16 I find that the law and the prophets were "until John." Does this mean that they are now done away?
Many false ministers today teach that God's law is abolished — done away. Here is the TRUTH! It is time the record were set straight! Some try to prove God's law is abolished by citing Luke 16:16. Luke quotes Jesus Christ as saying, "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." What did Jesus mean? Did He mean that the coming of John the Baptist did away with God's law? Jesus Himself explains in the very next verse, "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the LAW to fail" (verse 17). What an amazing statement! Have the starry heavens or the planet earth passed away? Are they no longer in existence? Jesus said it would be EASIER for them to perish or be destroyed than for God's law to pass away or perish! How clear that God's holy, immutable law is still in existence! It is in force, today, exacting an irrevocable penalty upon all those who transgress its precepts! Those ministers who teach contrary to God's law — those who repudiate His commandments, those who teach rebellion — are flying directly in the face of the Almighty God — and will be held accountable! Prophesying of these false ministers, David wrote: "It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made VOID thy law"! (Ps. 119:126.) But what, then, did Jesus mean? When Jesus spoke of the "law and the prophets," He was referring to the entire Old Testament. The Old Testament scriptures are often called the "Law and the Prophets." The first FIVE books of the Bible are known as the LAW, written by Moses; the books of Joshua through Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve "minor" prophets comprise the "Prophets"; and the third major section of the Old Testament was known as the "Writings," Jesus, therefore, meant that the Old Testament scriptures alone were preached from until the coming of John the Baptist. That was all they had! The NEW Testament had not yet been written! The Gospels had not yet been recorded. The New Testament epistles of Paul and the other apostles would not be written for years, Therefore, until the coming of John, only the Old Testament scriptures were preached throughout the land of Judah. But then John came on the scene of Palestine, He preached a new message. He was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, preparing the way before Him, the voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness (Mark 1:2-8). John thundered to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and all the people of his day, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"! (Mat. 3:2.) This was the FIRST time the gospel of the Kingdom of God had been preached! John was the first one to proclaim it, preparing the way for Christ Himself. But what gospel — good news — did Christ preach? "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15). Christ preached the SAME gospel! This is why He said, in Luke, that from the time of John the Baptist the gospel or good news of God's coming Kingdom was proclaimed. This does not mean that the Old Testament is done away, but rather that the prophecies of the Old Testament are soon to be fulfilled! As Jesus said, "the time is fulfilled"! We are living in the days immediately prior to the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon the earth! (See Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 7:18-27.) It is up to each one of us to repent, to strive to obey God, to forsake sin, so that we can be among those who "press" into God's Kingdom! Only those who forsake sin, thoroughly repent of sin, and begin OBEYING God's holy law will be in the God Kingdom!