We have just let go of the Easter season. That doesn't explain the title of this article but hold on, we will.
The first person to meet Jesus after his resurrection was Mary Magdelene. Mary was devoted to Jesus because he cast seven demons out of her (Mark 16:9). Her love for him, and her gratitude for how he changed her life, compelled her to serve him, even after his death (John 20:118). Jesus was gone from her life, but not from her heart.
How astonished Mary was to hear the voice, and see the face, of one she loved so muchone she thought was out of her life forever! She wanted to reach out and hold him, but he said, "Do not hold on to me." What shocking words! She had her friend and Lord back. Why couldn't she hold on to him?
The rest of his answer answers the question: "For I have not yet returned to the Father. . . . I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Jesus had a reason for keeping Mary at arm's length; in fact, the length was longer than a mere armJesus was leaving her completely. After Mary's initial loss of her friend and gain of a broken heart, this revelation demanded an explanation.
Jesus tried to tell the disciples that he was going to leave. "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). If they truly loved Jesus, they would be glad that he was leaving them. To let go of someone you loveto suffer loss, to court loneliness, to break off a piece of your heartfor his or her benefit, takes a remarkably altruistic spirit. Jesus had blessed and benefitted them, and now they felt bereft and bewildered.
Christ was not selfish and uncaring; he had good reason to leave his friends. He gave those reasons in their conversations, but they didn't grasp them. He also gave them hope: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18).
Jesus had to leave, but he didn't leave them alone. He left them with all they needed to hold on until he returned. He left them power: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12). He left them his Spirit: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth" (John 16, 17a). He left them his words and love: "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love" (John 15:10). Jesus' departure would bring them joy: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11). The future benefits of his absence would outweigh the temporary happiness of keeping Jesus with them.
Christ didn't promise easy lives without his physical presence. He warned, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:20). When we lose someone for any reason, it hurts. We can't imagine how we can go on. Mary wanted to hold on to Jesus, but he had to leave temporarily for herand ourgreater good, and he promised to return (John 14:3).
Hold on to the one who was let go so we would have someone to hold on to forever!
Alan is a freelance devotional writer for Lifestyles Over 50 and the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also the Peer-less Reviewer (General Editor) for Bridgeway Homeschool Academy in Catasauqua, PA, a Christian homeschool academy. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology.
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