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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?

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  • Welcome, Jojo! I hope you able to get some insight direction here. It seems to me, however, that your question is misplaced in this particular area. Your question is more a matter of theology, than understanding the meaning and context of words. In this particular community, you might ask the meaning of the phrase "ascended to My Father." I hope the distinction is clear.
    – Papa Pat
    Feb 28, 2020 at 23:09

8 Answers 8

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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.

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  • +1 @Dottard I really like this answer. Can I copy your answer here and share it with the members of my subreddit?
    – user35953
    Jan 30, 2023 at 17:36
  • @TonyChan - again, no problem.
    – Dottard
    Jan 30, 2023 at 21:13
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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

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  • That's what I'm also thinking, however would you happen to know of any scripture OT or NT that would back that up?
    – Jojo
    Feb 17, 2020 at 19:31
  • The verses cited above in Luke and Acts could include Jn 14:2-3, 16-23, 26, 28; 15:26; 16:5, 7, 10, 13, 16-23, 28; 20:22
    – Walter S
    Feb 26, 2020 at 3:09
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In Matthew 28, it says the women held Jesus by the feet.

Mat 28:9

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?

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    – agarza
    May 15, 2021 at 3:34
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There is no clear information as to when or how many times Jesus ascended. The bible discrepancies make it very difficult.

John 20:17 - Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

The above does not mean that Mary did not touch him – more that ‘cling’ means that she was holding Jesus firmly. Which would make sense as Jesus had injuries.

Matt 28:9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him.

1 John 1:1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. Luke 24:39 - 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 see that I have. (may not have touched him, but clearly invited)

John 20:27 - 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

So, when did Jesus ascend Same day - Luke 23.43 - He said to the thief who defended him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Two days - John 20:17 - He said to Mary Magdalene two days later, “I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Luke 24:50 - 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

The next day - Mark 16:9-20 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Acts 1:3 - 3After His suffering, He presented Himself to them with many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a span of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

The is also know evidence that Jesus ascended in a spiritual body.
Luke 24:39 above – Jesus says he is a Physical body – flesh & bone. Luke 20:35-36 35But those who are considered worthy to share in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 36In fact, they can no longer die, because they are like the angels. And since they are sons of the resurrection, they are sons of God.

Conclusion

It would not make sense that Jesus would come up & down continuously. So, some of the passages may not be accurate. Jesus states that he is not a spirit (touch and see a spirit does not have flesh and bone, they cannot die again, so does not need to eat etc…).

Another point also is if Jesus could appear & vanish as and when, why did the rock on the tomb need to be removed – Jesus could have easily come out without the rock being moved.

Very difficult to prove – either Jesus was going up and down constantly from Heaven or there are discrepancies in the passages.

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According to Colossians 1:14-20, Jesus the High priest is also God the Creator. As God, Jesus never had any sin and therefor no need to be put aside seven days for consecration. God required the priests to be consecrated; but God the Son is always consecrated and always in the presence of the Father. Jesus refused to let Mary touch Him before He ascended in order to fulfill perfectly the typology of the Passover Lamb. In John chapter 20, the phrase,"And after eight days . . ." is referring to eight days after the resurrection. It is only a time marker having nothing to do with the seven days the priest had to be consecrated.

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    – Community Bot
    Jan 30, 2023 at 16:30
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Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in Paradise that day (Friday). This seems to be a first "spiritual ascension." (Luke 23 43)

Forty days later, Jesus ascended "bodily" in front of the eleven disciples (Acts 1). So the Bible seems to relate two ascensions. The first was to perform His coronation as described in Daniel 7. And we know this is true because Jesus said in Matthew 28 that "all power in heaven had been given to Him". And this statement was given "before" the Ascension in Acts 1. So the coronation must have already happened.

Jesus spent the forty days after the Sunday bodily resurrection teaching about the Kingdom of God. He was a good authority on this subject because He was "King" of that kingdom!!! He had been coronated.

No, the blood of Jesus was not contaminated when He offered it to God (like the high priest did upon the Ark of the Covenant in the O.T.) because it was done "right after the crucifixion on Friday. He confirmed to the thief that He would be going to Paradise (heaven) that very day!

So the reference to Mary (better translated "don't cling to me") was not about contaminating Him. That phrase, and the following statement about his disciples is best understood as: "No Mary, I'm still here, and haven't ascended yet permanently (bodily),so go tell my disciples I'm still in the process, and I'll be meeting with you all before I go."

The verb tenses for "ascended" (perfect tense, past action), and "ascending" (present tense, continuing action in progress) bear this out.

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    – agarza
    Feb 3, 2023 at 3:01
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Hebrews chapter 9 should make it clear, along with other scripture posted here. He had to assend to the heavenly tabernacle and apply His blood in the Most Holy place. Without His blood on the mercy seat, His death burial and resurrection was of no effect to us. Why would He tell Mary to go and tell the others that He had not yet assemded, then appear to them later? Yes, 40 days later, but it makes no sense to inform them on resurection day when he would later that day appear to them?

I would like to again refer to the account about Mary at the tomb. She bent down and looked in and saw 2 angels one seated at the head of where Jesus's body had laid and the other at the foot. To me this resembles the ark. As we know God made a tabernacle in heaven and Moses was instructed to make a perfect replica. Also, the burial clothes were folded and Mary saw them. So what was the robe He was wearing when He appeared to her? It is my understanding at this time that the 2 angels brought Him the Preistly garment not made with man's hands from the heavenly tabernacle. Could He have worn clothing made by and of earthly things into the heavenly tabernacle, in fact, into the Heavenly Holy of Holys to apply His blood? I think not.

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    Mar 26 at 14:00
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According to "A Harmony of the Gospels" by A.T. Robertson, the following events take place on Sunday morning and Sunday night.

Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to stop clinging to him on Sunday morning in ‌John 20:17

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”‌

Then, on Sunday night, He appeared to His disciples without blood in ‌Luke 24:39

a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Where is the blood? ‌ This is proof that Jesus went into heaven to place His blood on the altar immediately after he was resurrected and before he appeared to His disciples.

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  • Lk.24:39 KJV -"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." Actually Jesus is affirming he has got flesh. Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics ( BH ) Gary. Did you assume from the text that says flesh and bones that the blood was missing? Jesus goes on to eat with the disciples and also the blood is produced in the bones.
    – RHPclass79
    Mar 31 at 20:45
  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Apr 1 at 2:39

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