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John 20:17:

Jesus said, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Why did Jesus not want Mary to touch him, remembering that he allowed Thomas to touch him before he went to heaven?

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More-modern translations have either "do not hold on to me" or "do not cling to me" or variants thereof. Hence, this is a different kind of "touch" than when Thomas (almost) touched Jesus. It's still a good question though. – El'endia Starman Jan 23 '13 at 12:21
Both of these pages have great commentary about that occasion. – Matt Jan 23 '13 at 14:18
up vote 13 down vote accepted

The reason Jesus said this has been the subject of debate. One common belief is that He didn't want her to tarry there, that it was more of a "now is not the time" statemen. Example:

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Touch me not - Μη μου ἁπτου, Cling not to me. Ἁπτομαι has this sense in Job 31:7, where the Septuagint use it for the Hebrew דבק dabak, which signifies to cleave, cling, stick, or be glued to. From Matthew 28:9, it appears that some of the women held him by the feet and worshipped him. This probably Mary did; and our Lord seems to have spoken to her to this effect: "Spend no longer time with me now: I am not going immediately to heaven - you will have several opportunities of seeing me again: but go and tell my disciples, that I am, by and by, to ascend to my Father and God, who is your Father and God also. Therefore, let them take courage."

Another view:

Vincent's Word Studies

Touch me not (μή μοῦ ἅπτου)

The verb, primarily, means to fasten to. Hence it implies here, not a mere momentary touch, but a clinging to. Mary thought that the old relations between her Lord and herself were to be renewed; that the old intercourse, by means of sight, sound, and touch, would go on as before. Christ says, "the time for this kind of intercourse is over. Henceforth your communion with me will be by faith through the Spirit. This communion will become possible through my ascending to the Father."

And another, similar to the others, but emphasizing "There are other things to do right now".

People's New Testament

20:17 Touch me not. She was probably about to clasp his feet. She is told to discharge a higher duty: to go to the brethren with the glad story.

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Jesus had just completed his main task of taking on his person the sins of all the world. He had become God's perfect sacrifice. As a result, he needed to be purified. That could only be completed by his father. Why did this have to be done face to face? The Bible doesn't say. But given the intimate nature of the Father, Son and Spirit relationship, this meeting seems to have been necessary. Until Jesus had been cleansed of this burden, He could not allow anyone to come in contact with him. As fulfilling his role as Most High Priest, He must present the sacrifice, Himself, to God in order for the sacrifice to be consummated. This expressed the nature of temple sacrifices in which the High Priest would burn the sacrifice so it could symbolically be purified and ascend to God. Once done, Jesus could then allow Thomas, for instance, to touch his wounds and also explains why he would not allow Mary to touch him in any manner.

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Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Here are some meta posts about this site to help you learn how we do it here: What Christianity.StackExchange is (and more importantly, what it isn't) and How we are different than other sites Please also take the tour and see the help center. I hope to see you post again soon. Please also keep in mind that I and other users are willing to help you, so ask us anything if you need help. Nice, logical answer. – fredsbend Dec 22 '14 at 20:55
What a crock of s... – Jim G. Dec 25 '14 at 3:19

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