Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father…”
Jesus arose from the dead and appeared to Mary Magdalene. His request – Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father - seems contradictory in light of the subsequent event when Jesus actually invites Thomas to touch Him.
Did Jesus ascend to the Father immediately after His resurrection and then return to earth for forty days? If so, there were two ascensions!
Perhaps so, although we cannot be sure, but what was going on in the temple may hold some significance. It was the day of the offering of First Fruits.
The priest waved the offering to heaven, offering the first fruits to God. A thankful offering to God in anticipation of more harvest to come!
Did Jesus ascend to heaven after His meeting with Mary to present Himself as a wave offering to the Father? The First Fruit of the Resurrection, signifying many others to come in the future.
Certainly, the resurrected Jesus would welcome an immediate re-unification with His Father. No doubt, long hoped for!
On the other hand, perhaps Jesus says to Mary – Don’t hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father – meaning simply, I’m not going anywhere right now. You will have plenty of time to visit with me before I ascend.
This makes sense in light of the special assignment He was anxious for her to complete:
Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
Maybe, the Teacher was simply helping her get used to a new situation, where she would not see and touch Him as formerly. What do you think?