Jesus said to [Mary], “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
(John 20:15-17 ESV)
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. For one thing, it demonstrates Jesus’ supreme love for His friends. “Do not cling to me,” He says to Mary who is so overjoyed to see her beloved teacher that she wraps her arms about Him. I don’t think Jesus is saying, “Take your hands off Me!” No. This scene is reminiscent of Naomi and Ruth in the beginning of their story (verses 1 4-18). But unlike those great saints of the Bible, Mary cannot go where Jesus is about to go and Jesus must not stay behind.
This is a wonderful but highly dangerous moment. If there is a legendary “Last Temptation of Christ”, this is it. I don’t say this in some sort of Davinci Code secret marriage sense. I think, in a literary sense, Mary represents Jesus’ bride but His bride is really the Church. His true Church loves Him and listens for His voice to say its name. And, likewise, He loves His Church and longs to be with her. This love, I believe could have been enough for Him stay on earth even after His passionate death on the cross. Simply listen to the reasoning behind His plea to Mary, “For I have not yet ascended to the Father.” In other words, her embrace could keep Him from completing His mission.
Mary Magdalene is us. He loves us so very much. He died for us, after all. Having done that, how much more would He desire to live with us and to love on us and be loved by us? I love that because it is such a perfectly personal, human moment.
We humans are so visual by nature, but it is so very difficult to see Jesus even when He’s standing right in front of us and even speaking to us. But believers know His voice when He says their names and that is something that makes Jesus so special. He knows our names and speaks them to us. Then we know we are His.