For Easter, Adam and Lindsey read and discuss John 20:1-18: “Do not hold onto me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father,” and ponder the valuable lesson that we do not rise until we all rise together. “Jesus Unmasked” seeks to remove the masks of exclusive theology and violent cultural lenses that obscure the truth of Jesus’s unconditional love. Scripture passages are read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. “Jesus Unmasked” is a Raven Foundation production.
For Easter, Adam and Lindsey read John 20:1-18. “Do not hold onto me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”
Those words probably stung.
Mary was deeply grieving. She had watched the man she loved die the most painful death imaginable, and when she went to anoint the body, it was gone.
In her sorrow, she couldn’t see Jesus at first. And this year, it might be easier to understand that level of despondency than ever before. Everything seems to be going wrong. How hard it must have been to believe he had risen, even though he had said he would. How hard it is to believe good news when we’re surrounded by ashes and tears!
But then Jesus says her name, and in an instant, her heart recognizes him. Of course she wanted to throw her arms around him! She probably never wanted to let him go. But Jesus says, “Don’t.”
Why won’t Jesus let her embrace him?
We can’t grasp onto Jesus because he is not exclusively ours. How many times has Easter been used as a time of triumphalism? How often have we heard Jesus’s victory over death interpreted as a victory over people who believe differently?
Jesus ascends to his Father and our Father because God is the Father of us all. And as such, we are all God’s children, sisters and brothers perfectly and unconditionally loved. And if we are all loved, then there is no room for sacrifice, no room for us versus them.
I hope Mary took comfort in that, even if she couldn’t embrace Jesus.
I hope we can all take comfort in this new, inclusive identity that leaves no one out.
If it doesn’t feel like Easter with a pandemic hovering over the world, think about how we are awakening to the needs of the most vulnerable and how we can live in compassion for one another in this time of uncertainty.
After all, Jesus came among the most vulnerable and was crucified as a criminal. When he rose, he turned our ideas of power and glory upside-down. Jesus uplifts the most vulnerable first, and brings the world along with him.
We do not rise until we all rise together.