The scriptures say that Jesus was raised on the 3rd day and was seen by Mary at the tomb John 20:17, however, He tells Mary "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father...". Then 8 days later He invites Thomas to touch him (John 20:25-27). Now we see in scriptures that Jesus was both the sacrificial lamb (John 1:3 & 1 Ptr 1:18-19) and our High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16). So as our sacrifical lamb His blood had to be offered on the heavenly altar for our sins, and as our High Priest He had to be consecrated for 7 days (Exod. 29:35 & Lev. 8:33). So did He ascend into heaven to offer up the offering for the sin of man then return to be seen of the disciples and others for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then ascend once again until His return as spoken in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18? If not, then would His sacrificial blood had been contaminated if he had been handled by others after the resurrection and He not qualify to offer up the offering as our High Priest since the days of consecration would have not been fulfilled? Could this be why John 20 specifically tells us it was on the 8th day that Thomas is invited to touch him?
We are not told anywhere when or how often Jesus ascended to heaven during the forty days (Acts 1:3) following His resurrection. Only one ascension is explicitly recorded in Acts 1:9-11. However we know the following facts:
- Early on Sunday morning (possibly soon after Jesus' resurrection??) Jesus spoke to Mary and said that He had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17). He asked Mary not to touch Him.
- Later that same day He met the disciples and issued no such instruction. These people included the two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35, Mark 16:12, 13) and the disciples in the upper room (John 20:19-23, Matt 28:9, 10). Eastern custom would demand that such a meeting be accompanied by greetings with a kiss and hug (Luke 15:20, Rom 16:16, 1 Cor 16:20, 2 Cor 13:12, 1 Thess 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14, etc.) A week later, Jesus explicitly asks Thomas to touch Him (John 20:24-28).
These two facts alone suggest that Jesus probably ascended to heaven sometime on the first Sunday morning but this is not explicitly recorded.
Now, the fact that at least one of Jesus ascensions to heaven is not recorded (possibly on the first day but certainly within the first week) leaves open the possibility that Jesus ascended on other occasions that are not recorded.
This is made more probable by the fact that after Jesus' resurrection, He did not live with anyone but simply appeared to various people and vanished afterward. It appears unlikely that Jesus' simply wandered the country side alone while people slept. Therefore, He possibly went to heaven on an unknown number of occasions during His final 40 days between resurrection and final ascension.
yes, apparently He ascended twice. Secretly, as it were, the day of resurrection,
Jesus said to her, Do not touch Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God. See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you behold Me having. Jn 20:17; Lk 24:39.
Then publicly, 'officially,' 40 days later,
Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you beheld Him going into heaven. Ac 1:1-11
In Matthew 28, it says the women held Jesus by the feet.
And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Why could not Mary hold him by the feet because He hadn't ascended to the Father yet - but the same morning the women returning from the tomb could hold him by the feet? Must be Jesus ascended to the Father for some purpose between Mary Magdalene and these women, though it was only a short while in between the two appearances. Why talk about Thomas 8 days later, when the women did on the same day of His resurrection?