Why was Thomas allowed to touch the risen Jesus, but Mary Magdalen was not?


Full Question

When Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, he cautions her that she should not touch him because he has not yet gone to the Father. Yet the following week in the upper room, he invites Thomas to put his hands into the wounds. Why the difference? Why was Thomas allowed to touch the risen Jesus, but Mary Magdalen was not?


Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary interpret the first passage (Jn 20:17) this way: I will not leave you again; be not in a hurry to touch me; you shall all have this pleasure. I will remain with you sometime, before my Ascension. Announce my Resurrection to my apostles. You shall see me again. This is the interpretation most modern commentators put upon this place. Others suppose that Magdalene imagined he was risen from the dead to live with men as before, like Lazarus. He addresses these words to her to disabuse her of this notion.

Thomas, on the other hand, apparently feared to go to Jesus, so Jesus was offering proof that he was alive and not a ghost or figment of Thomas’s imagination. He was saying, “Thomas, prove to yourself that I really am hereby touching your hands to the wounds I sustained on the cross” (cf. Jn 20:24-29). In other words, Jesus was responding individually to different expressions of doubt.

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Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed


  1. Everyone is way over thinking this. Jesus is God. He doesn’t follow rules– he MAKES them!!! If he wants Thomas to touch him, but not Mary, he doesn’t NEED a reason. Trying to come up with a reason is undermining Jesus’ divinity!!!

  2. The scripture says, “…Do not “cling” to Me…”Unless it translates “to touch” she was not forbidden to touch Jesus. He allowed Thomas to touch Him because Thomas was the only one not there at Jesus’ first visitation and, as far as we know, the only one who doubted, even saying, “unless l touch His hand and put my hand in His side, l will not believe.” John 20:25-29

  3. Mary had not ascended to the Father. It’s exactly as Jesus said! Wow! It helps to actually READ the Bible. By the time Thomas saw him, he had ascended to “lead captivity captive” which was an ancient term used after a battle. The spoils of war, POW’s etc. were led victoriously in a parade and offered to the king. Many of the spoils of war were given as gifts to the winning nation by that king.
    When it is said Jesus “preached” (in the Greek “declared victory” to the spirits in prison, what that means is, while his body lay entombed his spirit went to Paradise (aka “Abraham’s bosom”) just as he told the thief on the cross (“this day you will be with me in Paradise”). Jesus defeated Satan and defeated sin on the cross. This is why the veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the people tore in two! Jesus’ death on the cross offers us access to God because the penalty for sin is paid to all who believe!
    But as 1 Corinthians 15 tells us, if Jesus be not raised we are yet in our sins. Jesus’ work and total victory, enough to “lead captivity captive” and deliver those Old Testament saints to the Father, that work would not be fully completed until Jesus rose, physically, from the dead! So Mary found Jesus right after he rose in his now glorified body. Now victorious, Jesus was free to return in his glorified body to Paradise and deliver Abraham and all other O.T. saints to the Father in Heaven.
    This is not to be confused with his final Ascension, for Jesus over the next 40 days kept popping in and out, showing up in the upper room, on the streets and beach before his followers, was seen by Hundreds up until he finally ascended in full view of his disciples. They stood, mouth agape, as he ascended until an angel said, why do you continue to stare up in the sky? He will descend in the same manner and place as he left.
    So Mary had seen Jesus after his victorious and critical Resurrection. Jesus lead captivity captive and returned to be seen repeatedly for 40 days before his ascension.
    Key passages:
    Luke 16:19-31
    1 Peter 3:18, 19
    Ephesians 4:8-10
    1 Corinthians 15:17-19
    There is more to the story as well, but this answers the question, imo.

  4. John 20 :16,17
    Jesus said to her, Mary. ”
    She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic “Rabboni! “(Which means Teacher).
    Jesus said, “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 and your Father, to my God and your God. ‘”
    20:24 -27
    Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord! ”
    But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it. ”
    A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you! ”
    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. ”
    This is from the New International Bible.
    As you can read for you self. The reason was that there was one week between the incident. God need it to accept the perfect sacrifice first, so Martha could not touch Jesus. Thomas could one week later.

  5. Thomas never put his fingers into Jesus’ wounds, even though he offered Thomas to do so, Instead Thomas said “My Lord and my God” and he becoming the first to see the Christ as God as well. Nope, didn’t touch him.

  6. The reason with Mary, Jesus had not yet accended to the mercy set to apply the blood, With Thomas the blood had been applied, his was eight days later.

  7. Could the reason for not letting Mary touch Him be that He was at that time still the “Unblemished Lamb” sacrificed upon the cross for our sins until His ascension unto Heaven?

  8. In the Gospel According to John, when Mary sees Jesus, the next thing he says to her is, “Do not cling to me,”
    and I think it is rather obvious that she had thrown herself into his arms. Therefore this whiny article is based on what I consider to be a misreading of the Resurrection narrative.

    1. Wayan Your questions are based on a misunderstanding of who the God of the bible is.
      The Creator was not caught off guard when Adam willfully sinned. He knew it would happen and He knew what He would do. Philippians 2:5-11King James Version (KJV)
      5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
      6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
      7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
      8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
      9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
      10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
      11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  9. Oh, Christ worshipers ! we want an answer to our question from your wise ,
    If the lord was murdered by some people act … what sort of god is this ?
    We wonder ! was he pleased by what they did to him ? if yes , blessed be they .. they achieved the pleasure of his .
    But if he was discontented .. this means their power subjugated his !!
    Was the whole entity left without an all-hearfull sustainer ..so who answer the
    prayers ?
    where the heavens and the skies vacated .. when he laid under the ground and the sand over him “in the grave ” ?
    where all the world left without a God ..to manage while his hands were nailed?
    Why did not the angels help him when they heard him while he wailed ?
    How could the rods stand to bear the true lord when he was fastened ?
    How could the iron reach him and be stuck to him and hurt him ?
    How could his enemies hands reach him and slap his rear ?
    And was Christ revived by himself .. or the reviver was another god ?
    What a wonder it is ! A grave that enclosed a god ! what’s more weird is the belly that had him in it ?
    He stayed there for nine months in utter darkness . fed by blood !
    Thene he got out of the womb as a small baby ,weak and gaping to be breastfed ?
    He ate and drank , and did what that naturally resulted in .Is this a god ?
    High exalted be Allah above the lies of Christians ,all of them will be held accountable for their libels .
    Oh cross worshipers ..for what reason is it exalted and blamed who rejects it ?
    Is it not the logic break and burn it along with the one who innovated it ?
    Since the lord was crucified on it .. and his hands were fastened to it ?
    That is really a cursed cross to carry .. so step on it on your foot , don’t kiss it when you see it !
    The lord was abused on it … and you adore it ? so you are one of his enemies !!
    If you extol it because it carried the lord of the worlds .. why don’t you prostrate your self and worship graves ,since the grave contain your god in it ?
    So Christ worshipers ,wake up ,this is his start and this is his end

    1. Wayan….700 years before Jesus was born, Prophet Isaiah wrote a book pertaining to the coming, suffering and Glory of Jesus Christ. Exactly as it was written, it happened. To be exact read the ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE in the Old testament look for ISAIAH 53….there you will find why it must happen. Comprende?

  10. “Jesus had not ascended into heaven yet when he spoke to mary about not touching him,but it was after he has ascended to heaven and was in the midst of the disciples that he told Thomas to touch him.He had his resurrected body when he saw Thomas and had already been to heaven.”
    This is correct.
    There’s a vision of that scene givent to Maria Valtorta in the 1940’s.. it clears it up a lot by the way…

  11. Mary witness the event firsthand, so theres nothing to prove to our Lord Jesus Christ, while Thomas on one hand had disbelief in his heart about our Lord resurrection. So in his way our Lord Jesus Christ ask him to touch, so that his doubt will be dispelled.

  12. Jesus had not ascended into heaven yet when he spoke to mary about not touching him,but it was after he has ascended to heaven and was in the midst of the disciples that he told Thomas to touch him.He had his resurrected body when he saw Thomas and had already been to heaven.

    1. Thank you Pat. The most easiest answer without going into so many doubts and dilemma. Thats the first thought that popped out. Jesus went to the Father and now he can be touched. Peace brothers and sisters.

  13. I think with the Resurrection story Mary believed in the Risen Lord and Jesus new this thus commissioning her to announce the resurrection but Thomas even after hearing the witnesses could not believe and Jesus said to him Blessed are they who have not seen but believed.

  14. My heart always interpreted the interaction with Mary to be more like, “Don’t CLING to me.” As in “You must move forward. What’s done is done. We are not as we were before.” It never seemed disparaging or anti-woman to me.

  15. Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
    I didn’t see that Thomas actually touched wounds of Lord. He believed from seeing them.

  16. to my understanding, jesus told mary magdalene to “touch me not, for i have not yet ascended to my father.” because “nothing unclean will enter heaven.” For 3 days, jesus was in prison, preaching (Peter 2)… not in hell because there’s no salvation there, nor heaven of course. So Jesus went to the imprisoned spirits to preach… Jesus for me was also cleansed for some physical impurities. After ascending to heaven, Jesus returned and allowed thomas to touch him.

  17. Correct, Jim T. Jesus told Mary he had not yet ascended to his Father, implying his resurrection process wasn’t yet completed. His ascension and fully resurrected and eternally perfected body was then capable of doing all he did during the 40 day period of showing all his perfection, ability to eat, touch and be touched, pass through solid doors and travel without resting.

    1. Thomas was a doubter and needed proof; Mary Magdelene believed in Christ and therefore needed no proof that He is who He said He is. Thomas, it does not state in the Bible that only priests could touch our Lord. In the Old Testament, it was only the priest who could go before God for the sins of the people. In the New Testament, many people touched Christ. This is illustrated in Luke 8:45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” –(speaking of the time when Mary Magdelene said, “If I could only touch the hem of his garment, I shall be healed.”

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