We’ve heard the story on Easter Sundays how Mary went looking for Jesus body in the tomb. What she was the empty chamber, two Angels and a person she thought was a gardener. In one of the sweetest moments in scripture, we see her fear and despair turn to wonder and joy as she recognizes the voice of her Lord.
Her response was completely natural. She hugged Him.
But He has to push her away. I always wondered about that.
“Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’””
John 20:17 MSG
I’ll admit, I don’t understand this. The only thing I would want to do, the only thing I still want to do is hold onto Him.
Maybe you’re wondering what this has to do with Christmas.
I have friends who struggle with depression and addiction. These are good people who are hurting deeply with seemingly no way to freedom, at least no lasting way. There are friends who have lost brothers, children, parents, who face every holiday knowing they will never be able to see their loved one again on this earth. There are women and children, and yes, men too, who face this season as slaves of human trafficking.
I have no easy answers, no quick fixes for these overwhelming problems.
But I can tell you where to start.
You see, Jesus has “ascended”. Jesus rose from the dead, conquered sin and death, and is now “seated with God”. It is perfectly acceptable for us to cling to Him now.
We can go to Him in worship, not just seeking an emotional high. We can tell Him our problems. We can open our hearts. We can fall on our knees.
When we hurt, we close off, push people away, protect ourselves. Jesus ascended so that we could and would cling to Him.
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.””
John 12:32 ESV
I know that when I get to heaven I want to spend the first million years like a kid wrapped around His daddy’s leg. I think He is inviting me, this Christmas, to start living that way now.