John 20:17—If Jesus had not yet ascended to the Father, how could He have committed His Spirit to the Father?
Problem: Jesus said here “I have not yet ascended to My Father.” But earlier on the cross He said, “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46). If He was already with the Father, then why did He say that He had not yet ascended to Him?
Solution: The day He died, Jesus’ spirit went to be with the Father (as Luke 23:43, 46 records). So His spirit had been with the Father, but His body had not yet ascended into heaven when He spoke to Mary. The bodily ascension took place some 40 days later (cf. Acts 1:3, 9–10).
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.