Did Jesus go to Heaven when He died on the cross?
In John 20:17; we read that after Jesus has resurrected, He asked Mary Magdalene, ..."Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to My Father..."
But a few days prior to the resurrection while Jesus is on the cross we read in Luke 23:42-43 that one of the two criminals being crucified with Jesus, asks Him,
"Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom."
And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
How can Jesus have not yet ascended to the Father but on the other hand He has been in Paradise? We will get to this in a minute.
Why did Jesus ask Mary not to touch Him?
Numbers 19:11'He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days.'
Numbers 19:22 'Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean...'
We read in Matthew 27:61, Mark 15:47, Luke 23:55 (with a reference to Luke 8:2) that Mary Magdalene was present when the body was being prepared. If she touched the dead body then she would be unclean for seven days. It would have contaminated His sinless blood had Mary Magdalene been allowed to touch Jesus after He was ressurected. However, later in the resurrected state Jesus challenges the 11 Disciples to touch him.
Luke 24:38-39 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?
"Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
None of the 11 Disciples were present at the burial so they were still clean which meant that they could touch Jesus without in turn making Him unclean.
Mary Magdalene was spiritually clean (she had already accepted Jesus as her savior), but not physically clean (according to the Law given by God) at this point.
This word occurs throughout the Old Testament. This Hebrew word has a number of different meanings. We will concentrate on the references to a place of conscious existence after death. There are two separate areas in Sheol:
The lower Sheol; an undesirable place for the wicked (Job 24:19)
and Abraham's bosom (Paradise); a refuge for the righteous (Job 14:13).
Jesus makes reference to both areas in (Luke 16:19-31). See: Paper #X35
The Third Heaven
2 Corinthians 12:2 "I know a man who ... was caught up to the third heaven ... how he was caught up into Paradise."
From all of the above we can extrapolate that the third heaven is also paradise. The first two heavens probably refer to the air and the sky (space) both of which are also refereed to as heaven(s) in both Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek.
Does God not dwell in Heaven?
When Jesus says that He has not yet ascended to the Father, what He is saying is that He has not yet ascended into all the dimensional attributes that the Father had; omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence and transcendence. When Jesus did ascend into all these attributes He was truly with His Father. God dwells in Heaven but people cannot fully experience God with His attributes. Even in death we will be limited, we won't be omnipresent, omnipotent,... For three days Jesus went through the same experience all believers will experience in Heaven. After the resurrection Jesus ascended into the same attributes of the Father, they are truly together now, as they were before the earthly life time of Jesus.
John 16:28 "I came forth from the Father and have come into this world. Again I leave the world and go to the Father."
Jesus says when He leaves the world He will go to the Father. Isn't heaven different from the world? Actually heaven and the world are still below the capacity of God and we find that both heaven and earth seem to be connected in the term "world".
Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
Jesus is stating that He is not of this world which also includes the heaven that God has created for us. So when He died on the cross He had still not ascended to where the Father was. To truly be where the Father was Jesus both had to be everywhere (omnipresent) and at all times (eternal).
Some people have said that Jesus had ascended to the Father after He talked to Mary but before we actually read of the ascension in Luke 24:50-52, Mark 16:19, Acts 1:9, because of his ability to appear to the 11 Disciples with the doors closed in John 20:19, Luke 24:36, Mark16:14 and vanishing from the sight of two Disciples in Luke 24:31. It is true that Jesus had capabilities that displayed higher dimensions, but this only indicates that Jesus had the ability to traverse a few dimensions. He does not display the ability to appear at two places at the same time... He even tells us that He is limited and cannot send the Holy Spirit until He has gone to the Father, this indicates that Jesus was still not omnipotent (unlimited power).
John 16:7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away; the helper will not come to you; but if I depart I will send Him to you."
We then read just prior to the ascension in Acts:
Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;..."
Acts 1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up...
In Acts 2 we read that at this time the Holy Spirit first came to the disciples, not prior to the ascension.
Jesus, when He became a man choose to limit His abilities for His ministry on earth. When He died He did not choose to obtain the capabilities of the Father, although He did take on some extra capabilities, He had not yet ascended to the Father. When He finally ascended forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3), He joined the Father and became as God was - unlimited.
When believers die we will dwell with both God and Jesus, but not in the same way that the God (the Father) and Jesus (the Son) dwell together with the Holy Spirit.
Important Notice; A discrepancy has been found in this paper.
Please see the paper: Cleaning the Feet of Jesus
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