Read: John 20
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17, NLT)
Imagine Mary’s surprise—and joy—at hearing that familiar voice tenderly whisper her name as she stood before the tomb of Jesus: “Mary!” (John 20:16) She turned to see what she had never expected to find when she left early that morning to care for the Lord’s crucified body. Jesus was alive! And Mary was so overcome with a thousand different emotions all at one time that she grabbed onto Jesus like she would never let go again. She had lost him once, she was not about to let that happen twice!
If you are a parent and have ever lost your child in a department store, you will understand that scene: After minutes that seem like hours of panicked searching, you find that child, and while you feel like giving them the mother of all spankings, instead you hug them so tightly they almost suffocate.
That is exactly what Mary did, but in grabbing on to Jesus, she becomes a timeless picture of our tendency to cling to yesterday in order to feel good about today. We do that in a variety of ways:
We fiercely cling to a “spiritual high” from yesterday, wanting it replicated today.
We fiercely cling to wounds from disappointment, failure and hurt, and as a result, fear, guilt, and un-forgiveness now controls, if not defines our lives.
We fiercely cling to the attention we get by being needy.
We fiercely cling to immature views developed in our spiritual adolescence of a God who winks at sin, who doesn’t punish wrong, who must not care about us because he let bad things happen or who is nothing more than a Divine “sugar daddy” who gives everything we want.
Mary was a spiritual clinger; she was guilty of all those incomplete and immature views. Jesus, however, refused to let her stay in that frame of mind, so he said to her, “Don’t hold onto me!” (John 20:17) The word “hold” is hapto in the Greek text, and it means, “to cling, to desperately grasp onto!” Grammatically, in the negative it means to stop doing what you always do—and are now doing again. Jesus is really saying, “Quit hanging on to your warm, fuzzy memories of past experiences of me. That limits your view of who really I am. Raise your expectations!” In the rest of verse 17, he says to Mary, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God!”
Jesus is pointing to a whole new order. He is more than just the crucified Savior who can forgive your past. He is more than just a rabbi (John 20:16) who gives you guidance and stability in the present. He is the risen Lord who, by virtue of his own transformation from death back to life, has the authority to transform your life today—and every day from here to eternity. And now he is going to the place of authority from where he will be your constant advocate, constant empowerer, and constant companion—in other words, your living Lord. Jesus is more than Savior—he is also Lord.
Finally, the light dawned for Mary. She got it! Mary went and found the disciples in John 20:18 and said to them, “I have seen” … not “the teacher” … not “the Savior” …but “I have seen the Lord!”
I hope you will get it too! Stop clinging to your immature and incomplete views of Jesus. He is not only your Savior—the one who forgives you of your sins, he wants also to be your Lord—the one who will rule over your moment-by-moment life.
“There is not an inch of any sphere of life of which Jesus Christ the Lord does not say, ‘Mine.’” ~Abraham Kuyper
What If God Took Over?
Is there any area of your life that does not belong to Jesus? Your thought life? Language? Use of money? Friendships? Sex life? Attitude and treatment of others? If he is not Lord over any one of these areas, he is not Lord at all. So hit your knees and surrender to his Lordship—and never turn back. You will not regret it!