googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: John 20:17: Touch Me Not

Friday, August 21, 2009

John 20:17: Touch Me Not

λέγει αὐτῇ Ἰησοῦς· μή μου ἅπτου, οὔπω γὰρ ἀναβέβηκα πρὸς τὸν πατέρα·

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: (John 20:17 KJV)

My blog today isn’t really so much of a revelation as it is an explanation since many translations have this verse correct. But because the King James Version (and a few others) renders this verse as “touch me not,” this passage has led to a lot of speculation about what Jesus meant.

According to Scofield, one possible interpretation of this is, “That Jesus speaks to Mary as the High Priest fulfilling the day of atonement (Leviticus 16). Having accomplished the sacrifice, He was on His way to present the sacred blood in heaven…” In other words, Jesus was going to the Father to present His own blood as the payment for our sins. He did not want Mary to touch Him lest some of His blood would cling to her. That’s an awful lot of speculation crammed into three words. It’s also counterintuitive when you consider the amount of blood that was surely spilled during the act of the Crucifixion (as in John 19:34).

Another explanation I’ve heard goes thusly: “… He appeared to Mary Magdalene the next morning, the day after the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread, when the priests presented the wavesheaf offering. He did not permit her to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. Just as the High Priest had to wave the sheaf of grain before the spring harvest began, so our Savior had to ascend to the Father that day to be accepted before Him. Once this happened, He allowed His disciples to touch Him.”

These speculations, and many others, all hinge on the misunderstanding that Jesus did not allow Mary to touch Him. A reading of the verse in Greek, however, might dispel such speculation about Jesus’ true meaning. ἅπτου is in the imperative mood and is modified by the negative particle μή. When μή is used to modify a verb in the imperative mood it generally means to stop an action that is already in process. In this case, Mary was already touching Him! So Jesus did not forbid Mary to touch Him; rather, He was telling her STOP touching Him because He was to ascend to the Father.

We see this conclusively in Matthew 28:9:

"And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him."

This passage makes clear that the women held Him by His feet.

Consider these other, popular translations:

“Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.” (NIV)
“Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father;” (NASB)
“Jesus saith to her, `Be not touching me, for I have not yet ascended unto my Father;” (Young’s Literal)
Don’t waste too much time pondering why Jesus wouldn't let Mary touch Him. A casual reading in the Greek shows prohibition was not necessarily even implied.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how many time i do not do what i want to do but do what i dont want to do