This occurred early in the morning not long after sunrise. We do not know exactly what time after sunrise, but the women originally came to the tomb while it was still dark (verse 1)—and He was already gone from the tomb at that point! He simply could not have risen at sunrise. It was sometime after sunrise when Jesus stopped her and instructed her to tell His disciples these things. So, shortly after Mary returned to the disciples—however long it took her to get back to where they were assembled—Jesus ascended to His Father's throne in heaven to be accepted as our Redeemer and High Priest.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension
Jesus was crucified on the day of the Passover in AD 31, which fell that year on a Wednesday. God resurrected Him at the end of the weekly Sabbath (Saturday). He appeared to Mary Magdalene the next morning, the day after the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread, when the priests presented the wavesheaf offering. He did not permit her to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. Just as the High Priest had to wave the sheaf of grain before the spring harvest began, so our Savior had to ascend to the Father that day to be accepted before Him. Once this happened, He allowed His disciples to touch Him (cf. Matthew 28:9; John 20:20-28).
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Pentecost
As the firstfruits of God's Family, Jesus had not yet appeared before the Father for acceptance as our Savior and High Priest! He had not yet been "waved"! The context of John 20 shows that it was still early in the morning, and most likely, shortly after Mary returned to the disciples, Jesus ascended to His Father's throne in heaven to be accepted as our Redeemer—at about the same time the priest waved the sheaf before God in the Temple. God fulfills His Word to the letter!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'
John 20:16-19 absolutely proves which Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread God intends us to use to determine wavesheaf Sunday. These verses show that Jesus ascended to the Father to be accepted on the day following the weekly Sabbath. In the year Jesus was crucified, Passover was on a Wednesday. He was still in the grave when the first day of Unleavened Bread, a Thursday Sabbath, passed by. He rose from the dead late on the weekly Sabbath and was "waved" before God for acceptance on the Sunday morning following the weekly Sabbath. The Pharisees and rabbinic Jewry were wrong in using the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread Sabbath. The Sadducees were correct in using the weekly Sabbath. Taken together, these factors point conclusively to the wavesheaf day as being on a Sunday, the day following the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 20:17:
1 Peter 3:18-20