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Touch Me Not

Touch Me Not

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY ALEXANDER MACLAREN

Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not ; for I am not yet ascended
to My Father.— John xx. 17.
BY ALEXANDER MACLAREN

Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not ; for I am not yet ascended
to My Father.— John xx. 17.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 16, 2013
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11/16/2013

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Touch Me ot
BY ALEXADER MACLARE
Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not ; for I am not yet ascended to My Father.— John xx. 17. THESE are the first words of the risen Christ ; They strike one as being singularly cold and repellent at snch a time. Their immediate purpose was to put a barrier between Himself and Mary's clasping hands. It was not like Him to repress tokens of love, or to chill hearts. He had let a much worse woman than Mary Magdalene wash His feet with tears, and wipe them with the hairs of her head. At such a meeting, after such a parting, a little exuberance of demonstration might have been permitted, and forgiven even if it had been excessive. The prohibition, strange as it sounds, was followed by a reason which sounds even more strangely : ^' Touch Me not ; for I have not yet ascended." We might have expected tliat the first " not " would have been left out, " Touch Me ; for I have not yet ascended,"  — would have been intelligible, as suggesting that for a little time still snch tokens of love were possible, 1 2 TOUCH ME OT ere the great separation came. Mary must have been as much bewiklered by the reason as she must have been chilled by the prohibition. And yet both were meant to lead her, with gentle, loving, and yet most firm hand, to recognise the new relation which had begun, and was henceforth to continue.
 
They said to her, " old things have passed away, all things have become new," and though thou hast ^' known Christ after the flesh ; yet now henceforth " thou shalt " know Him " so '' no more." They were not meant for Mary only. All the Resurrection histories have a forward look, and were intended to explain directly to the disciples, and more remotely to us, the essential nature of that new relationship into which His disciples have entered, and in which they now continue, to their Lord. These teachings, whether expressed in words or in the facts of our Lord's appearances, are the lesson-book for the Church " till He come," and if we understand the bearings of these we have enough to direct and to sustain us. We have, then, to deal with the three points here ; the touch that was forbidden ; the touch that is possible because Christ has ascended ; and the lessons for to-day that come from both. Then let us think of I. The Touch that was Forbidden. ow the prohibition which, as I have said, sounds at first repellent and cold, can only be understood TOUCH ME OT 3 if wc grasp firmly and see clearly tlic mood and character of the person to whom it was addressed. And so I venture to turn to the circumstances that precede these words, not with any foolish idea of telling over again the story that John has told for all time, but only for the sake of bringing out what his narrative shows us of the disposition of Mary. I would only make one remark in passing, which
 
is, that if this episode is not the simple recounting of historical facts, the man that wrote it must have been one of the greatest imaginative geniuses that the world ever saw. If it is not history, I would match the story of Mary and the Lord on the resur- rection morning, for subtlety of characterisation, for exquisite beauty, for reticence, for simplicity that goes straight to the heart, against anything that a Shake- speare or a Dante ever wrote. But, passing altogether from that, let me just recall to you the points bearing on Mary's mood. She had been to the grave once already, found it empty, rushed away to Peter and John with the lament which henceforward became a kind of cuckoo- note on her lips, and filled her whole heart : " They have taken away the Lord ; we know not where they have laid Him." The two apostles ran to the tomb. She seems to have come, not with them, but after them. 6 TOUCH ME OT Then came the beginning of the educational process, only explicable if you take all that I have been trying to sketch into account. " Touch Me not ; for I have not yet ascended." What was the touch that was forbidden ? On that very morning other women were permitted to clasp His feet. On that very evening He said to the apostles, *' handle Me and see." A week after He said to the doubter, " Reach hither thy hand. Thrust it into My side." Why were these permitted that, which to Mary was forbidden ? For this simple reason, that that attempt to clasp Him was the expression of a love and a faith which unduly clung to the external form, and which desired to perpetuate the vanished relationship. And so our Lord began the educational process, then and there ;

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