Why Cannot Mary Touch Jesus, But 8 Days Later He invites the Disciples to Do So?
The explanation in scripture is that Jesus has not yet ascended to heaven. (John 20:17) For most of us, that does not really answer the question. Likely this has to due with Jesus fulfilling the role of the High Priest in the Heavenly Temple. When a high priest is ordained, the process takes eight days. The night before the high priest’s ordination, there are people assigned to make sure he does not fall asleep, so he does not accidentally make himself unclean. This is likely the timing and the symbolism which is being recreated. On another interesting note, it is obvious that Mary is comfortable touching Jesus, which is not a norm for non-family members of the opposite sex in this culture. She is not likely His wife, as Jesus only makes arrangements for the care of His mother as He is dying, even though Mary is there as well, indicating that her care is not His responsibility. (Jn 19:27)
Photo by Matija Barrett
Some Interesting Geography…
Genesis 13:14 ‘Raise your eyes and look out from where you are to the north, south, east and west…’
Genesis 13: 14 contains directional words which are currently translated as ‘north,’ ‘south,’ ‘east,’ and ‘west,’ as that is how they are currently used in modern Hebrew. These words however, are tied to the geography of Israel. North, tsefonah, refers to Mount Zaphon (which is now Jebel Agra). South, negbah, refers to the Negev, a desert, or wilderness area south of Israel. West, yamah, means to the sea. And east, kedmah, suggests going back to an earlier time and refers to the garden of eden. Gen 2: 8 tells us the garden of Eden is ‘in the east.’
There is also some interesting word play regarding direction in the New Testament.
When Jesus says, ‘You are from below, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world.’ (Jn 8:23) Christians today hear that He is from heaven, and those He is talking to are not so godly…. This is, in my opinion, a valid interpretation, but it was likely heard differently by His audience, or at least the double meaning left them in doubt of whether, or not, He was insulting them. Jerusalem, where the religious leaders did most of their ‘business’ was on an elevated portion of Israel and it was common to say that one ascended to Jerusalem, or ‘went up’ to Jerusalem. Galilee, where Jesus and His disciples were from, was closer to sea level, and was therefore a place one ‘descended’ to. There are even psalms of ‘ascent’ to be sung when one is going to Jerusalem, and psalms of ‘descent,’ to be sung when one is traveling from Jerusalem. Jesus turns this on its head and is seemingly saying that Galilee is ‘above’ Jerusalem. (And the people in Jerusalem did believe they were better than those raised in the ‘countryside.’) So, for the people at the time, Jesus could merely be saying, likely tongue in cheek considering His other words to them, that they think they are ‘better’ than Him since they are ‘from above,’ referring to the wonderful, more educated area of Jerusalem, and that He is merely an unlearned person from the poor side of Israel, but that in actuality His ministry is ‘above’ those in Jerusalem (which is also true). This could obviously be taken many ways by the people at this time and was likely the source of much discussion in a ‘did He just say what I think He said’ way.