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Come and See

Jesus is risen (Matthew 28:1-10)

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

 I love that the resurrection of Jesus begins with an invitation for the doubter and the believer alike, for those “afraid yet filled with joy”, for “the ones that worshiped” and the ones that “still doubted” – “Come and See the place where He lay “, said the angel.

Before the commission, was an invitation to partake, to come close, and to experience the resurrection first hand. While His salvation is universal, His invitation is deeply personal – Come and See. There is something movingly hopeful and enticing about this provocation for me, partly because I hear a pledge and a promise: the promise that I won`t leave empty handed and the promise that if I come close, He will show me.

If responded to the invitation He so graciously extends towards us daily, I think our understanding of the resurrection would not become a once a year celebration, but a daily intimation. I feel overwhelmed by the simplicity and depth of this invitation, one that is extended to me, every hour of every day. The invitation however does not end in simple admiration and bewilderment. The invitation prompts a delegation, a commissioning to “go and tell” (v.7). It is the women`s response to the invitation that catapulted them into their assignment. First, the angel invites the women to experience the resurrection of Jesus and then to “go and tell “. This is the kind of invitation that leads us to first gather at the empty tomb and then to ” go and quickly tell the others”. There can’t be commissioning without an invitation because it is the invitation that draws us into His heart first. It is this invitation that brings transformation to every part of who we are. It is this invitation that brings us face to face to a loving Father with a persistent affection.

Sometimes I think we get this backwards. Sometimes we are fueled by the commission more than we are consumed by the invitation to Come and See, to come and experience the fullness of His presence. I don`t want to miss His invitation because I am too busy “doing”. I think the times we are now living in have exposed that reality more than ever. We have exchanged His invitation to commune for the restlessness and agitation of this world. I am not by any means belittling responsibilities, working, school or anything of that sort. What I am simply pointing out, even in my own life, is the constant burden and expectation to perform, to achieve and to do (even if that involves good things). So many of the things that preoccupy our lives are what the author of Ecclesiastes would call “chasing after the wind”. In all honesty, all of those things are indeed meaningless when juxtaposed with His beautiful invitation.

I have identified this ” Come and See – Go and Tell ” pattern on three other occasions in the gospels( there are many more but these three stood out to me today). For instance, Jesus himself extended this invitation to His soon to become disciples in John :

John 1:35-42

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Do you see the pattern again? Jesus himself is asking His disciples to Come and See. He actually makes an affirmative statement. This indicates an acceptance or approval towards a previously expressed idea. Grammatically, an affirmative statement states a truth (retrieved from Jesus is affirming the inevitable: those who come will see and those who seek will indeed find (Matthew 7:7). He is assuring his disciples of an obvious outcome produced by their willingness to come – when they Come, they will See.

Notice what Andrew proceeds to do after spending a whole day with Jesus : he finds his brother Simon (soon to become Peter), and tells him of his encounter with the Messiah, bringing him to Christ. Andrew responded to Jesus`s invitation and “found” what He was looking for but that is not where he stopped. He needed to tell his brother about this too.

In another instance, a rejected Samaritan woman who has an unexpected yet profound encounter with Jesus, extends an invitation to her neighbors.

John 4:29 – Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” What I hear in her statement is a longing for people to come and experience what she had experienced firsthand. And we know that later on in the story, many Samaritans from that town believed firstly because of her testimony and secondly because of their own encounter with Jesus. They too Came and Saw:

John 4:39-42

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

The woman`s testimony was incredibly powerful- it prompted faith and stirred up belief but that wasn`t enough. The woman`s testimony was the beginning of the “come and see for yourself” prompt. It is when “they came to Him” and “heard for themselves” that they “knew that this man really is the Savior of the world”.    

I really believe that at the heart of Jesus` invitation to Come and See is a desire for intimacy.  Mark`s gospel paints this best when he describes Jesus`s process of choosing his disciples. When Jesus picked His twelve disciples, He appointed them “that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14). I don’t think that Jesus` motives when choosing his entourage were stated by Mark in that particular order , by accident.  I think Mark wanted to highlight the heart of Jesus and the purpose of His motivations in the process. He hand-picked His best friends so that they may first and foremost be with Him; secondly, so that they may go out and preach the gospel. This statement does not belittle or underestimate the call to “go and tell”, but it sure serves to reorient and debunk our priorities and preferences.

I am deeply touched and challenged by this simple invitation. It is this very invitation that has transformed my life. It is this very invitation that continues to transform my life. Oh, how I never ever want to trade it for approval, the pressure of achievement, or works. Oh, how I never want to live in the inverse and deception of false religion. 

Come and See– this has been the steady invitation for over 2,000 years; for the doubter and the believer alike, for those “afraid yet filled with joy”, for “the ones that worshiped” and the ones that “still doubted” .

Are you doubting? – Come and See.

Are you afraid? – Come and See.

Are you skeptical? – Come and See.

 Are you weary? –  Come and See.

Are you angry? – Come and See

Are you disappointed? – Come and See

Are you in need of a miracle? – Come and See

Are you confused? – Come and See

Are you anxious? – Come and See

Are you full of faith? – Come and See

The Come and See persuasion is not my own, but maybe we can walk this invitation alongside each other. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, whether you are wrestling with faith or not, I hope you feel the depth of His invitation extended towards you. Whether you take a first step or a step closer towards His empty tomb, I pray that something deeper awakens in you – unquenchable passion, unquestionable love, undeniable peace. I pray that whether you stumble or march towards the rolled away stone, your heart will hear the surest voice calling “Will you Come and See?  “