Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father…
I. THE PARTIES. "My brethren." Here is nothing that savours of any displeasure of remembering any old grudge, or of pride. The term "brethren" implies —
1. Identity of nature. Then if He rose as man, man also may rise; if the nature be risen, the persons in it may. In the first Adam our nature died, in the Second our nature is risen.
2. Risen with the same love and affection He had before, or if changed changed for the better. Before He said, "My friends." Here, "My brethren."
II. THE COMMISSION. The fathers say that by this word she was by Christ made an apostle. Nay, an apostle to the apostles.
1. An apostle: for what lacks she?
(1) Sent immediately from Christ.
(2) Sent to declare.
(3) Sent to make known Christ's ascending, the very Gospel of the gospel.
2. This day, with Christ's rising, begins the gospel; not before. Crucified, dead and buried, no good news in themselves. Them the Jews believe as well as we. At her hands the apostles themselves received these glad tidings first, and from them we all.
3. Which, as it was a special honour, so was it not without some kind of reproach to them for sitting at home. Christ is fain to seek Him a new apostle.
4. And by this the amends is made her for Noli Me tangere. For to be thus the messenger of so blessed tidings is a more special favour than if she had touched Christ. Christ would never have enjoined her to leave the better to take the worse. So that hence we infer that to go and carry comfort to them that need it, to tell them of Christ's rising that do not know it, is better then to do nothing but touch Christ. Touching Christ gives place to teaching Christ. How well this agrees with her offer in ver. 15: "You that would take and carry Me, being dead, go take and carry Me now alive." It shall be a carrying in a better sense. Stand not here then touching Me; go and touch them, and with the very touch of this report you shall work in them a resurrection from a doleful and dead to a cheerful and lively estate.
III. THE MOTION.
1. "Tell them that I ascend." Why not rather "I am risen" (more proper for this day)? Because He needs not tell her that. She could tell that of herself. And besides, I ascend implies as much. Till He be risen, ascend He cannot. But as she saw by His rising that He had the keys of hell and death, had unlocked those doors and come out from thence, so by ascend He tells her that He hath the keys of heaven's gates also, which He would now unlock, and so set open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
2. To show us what was the end of His rising. Christ did not rise, to rise; no more must we. Christ rose to ascend; so are we to do. To rise from the bottom of the grave to the brink of it, and stand on the grave-stone, is but half a rising. To rise up as high as heaven, that is to rise indeed; that is Christ's rising, and that to be ours. As there was no gospel till the Resurrection, so the Resurrection is no gospel unless "ascend" follow it. Resurrexit, tell that to all the world — all that die in Adam shall rise in Christ: miscreants, Jews, Turks, and all. No gospel that, properly. Tell the Christian of ascendo, too, the resurrection to life and not to condemnation. Better lie still in our graves, than rise, and rising not to ascend.
3. He saw upon these tidings they would say, "He risen, then shall we have His company again as heretofore." But by sending them word of His ascending He gives them warning that He rose not to make any abode with them. This He knew would be a hard lesson. They were still and ever addicted to His bodily being with them. They would have built Him a tabernacle here. To rid them of this error He shows them thus, that for Him to be here below on earth that is not it; but for them to be with Him there above in heaven that is it. Thither would He raise them and us with this His ascendo.
4. So then seeing Christ stayed not here, we are not to set up our stay here; not to make earth our heaven.
IV. TO MY FATHER. Every motion hath a whence and a whither. To ascend is, to Christ, His natural motion; heaven is His natural place. His work being done. And "to My Father" no less (chap. John 14:28). But to go from them is no good news. It was like "touch Me not" to Mary. What then is their comfort or ours? In this, "To your Father" as well as Mine. And He doth express here the whither by the party to whom, rather than by the place to which, because the party will soon bring us to the place, and to somewhat besides. So we have good right to make His Father ours, and His Father's house ours, that there we may dwell together fratres in unum. There be of the Father's that make these words as so many steps of Jacob's ladder, which we are to ascend by, or so many wheels as it were of Elias's chariot, in which he was carried up to heaven. There lie before us four pairs or combinations by which ascendo is drawn in the text.
1. Father and God, instead of "the Lord God" of the law. Father is a name of much good will, but many a good father wants good means to his good will. God is added that He may not be defective that way.
2. His, ours; and ours His, interchangeably. A blessed change: His great Meum for our little vestrum, little ours for great His. As there is no comfort in heaven without God, nor in God, without a Father, so is there not any either in Father, heaven, or God without ours to give us a property in them.
3. "My Father" will do us no good. That which must do us the good is "your Father," and we need no more (John 14:8). But how should His be ours?
4. This leads us to the last combination, "My God and yours." For that His Father may be our Father, no remedy but our God must first be His.
(1) His Father, as God; His God, as Man. As the Son of God, a God He hath not; a Father He hath: as the Son of Man, a Father He hath not; a God He hath.
(2) But now, how shall we get His Father to have Him to be our Father? First, His Father He was from all eternity; He only can say properly, patrem meum. But He is content to quit that and to take us in; and He being our Brother before to make us His now. For upon His ascending He adopts us, and by adopting makes us, and by making pronounces us His brethren, and so children to His Father. But, till then, a God we had, but not a Father; at least, not such a Father of Him as since we have. So we see the necessity of both these combinations. But we are not so to look to our own comfort, but that we preserve His honour. There is order taken for that by severing each pair — mine and yours; yet otherwise His and otherwise ours; both as Father and as God. As Father: His by nature, ours by grace. As God: our God by nature. His no otherwise, then as He took upon Him our nature.
Parallel VersesKJV: Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.