It is not all a bad dream. It all happened.
For Mary Magdalene it seems like she is waking up. There he is, standing right before her, talking to her, just like before. She is crying, tears flowing down her face, and she so desperately wants him to hold her and tell her that everything will be like it was, that everything is alright. She moves to embrace him.
And he sets her straight.
"Do not cling to me."
It must have felt like a slap in her face. He's back, and she can't hold him? But this, my friends, is important. Because however much Jesus loved Mary Magdalene, he did not come back for her sake. He did not come back for Peter's sake, or for the beloved disciple's sake. He came back for your sake. For my sake. And that is why he cannot let his friends cling to him, cling to their dreams and ideas of what he was to become. One person's idea about who Jesus is cannot be allowed to be the only idea. One congregations reading of what happened there by his tomb count be the only one for the whole of Christianity, and one church's interpretation should never be the rule for everyone else. But we want it to be. We so desperately want Jesus to make sense to people the way he makes sense to us, and so we cling to what he was, what we think he is, and our images.
But the message to all of us, when he stands there in front of Mary Magdalene, is: Do not cling to what he was. Do not cling to your old dreams of what he would become. Do not cling to your images and ideas. Jesus is something, someone completely different.
The other disciples get the same message. All of a sudden he is right there, in their midst, in spite of doors and walls. Smiling and offering Thomas, the doubting disciple, his wounds.
It could have been different. He could have proclaimed it all a bad dream, telling them that all was ok now, that evil can't touch him, or them, that they all are safe from harm and that he was ready to take over the reign of Palestine. But he doesn't.
His scars were real, just like his death was real. And he will not take away all your hurt, all your scars and wounds. He will share them, just like he shares your death. And it is through that, that he changes everything.
Jesus is something, someone completely different, and he makes everything different.
From here on everything is different. Mary is no longer "just" a female disciple like the other female disciples, she becomes an apostle. Peter has had to face his biggest failure ever when he denied knowing Jesus, and now realizes that Jesus is alive to talk to him about it. I can only imagine how devastated and deeply afraid he must have been, how small this the greatest of the disciples must have felt. Thomas makes a complete turn and becomes one of the great evangelizers.
Because Jesus call them, and call us.
To not search for the living among the dead, but instead the dead among the living.
To go places we would never have dared.
To not fear life, and not death.
From here on, everything is different.
Jesus is hard to hold on to…Always has been. Ever since he was a boy and slipped away from his parents to go to the temple all alone, he never did what was expected.
Every time we think we have hold of Jesus, he won't stay long because he has places he wants to take us, people he wants us to meet. Jesus is free of the grave and roaming at large in the world now. He will not let himself be held, confined, clung to. And he offers you, and me, freedom. Freedom from fear, from confinement in our ideas, from other's expectations of who we are supposed to be.
But if Jesus is going to free us from the grave of fear, we have to let go of it ourselves. We have to die to it first. If we are intent on holding onto our fear, Jesus will not be able to lead us to a future of hope.
Don't cling to fear. Don't cling to your images of Jesus, of the right church, of the right way to believe. Don't cling to death.
But cling to hope, to love, to life, and offer it to everyone you meet. From now on, everything is different. Christ is Risen! Alleluia.