“Come and see.” That’s the Easter invitation. It’s found in Matthew 28:7 – “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said,” the angel told the women at the tomb, “come and see the place where He was lying.” This isn’t the only time that we hear this invitation extended in the Gospels. When John the Baptist was in prison and sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask if He was really the Christ or should they start looking for someone else, Jesus told them to come and see what He was doing and then go back and tell John all about it before they made up their minds (Matthew 11:4-6). And in the Gospel of John, on four separate occasions (1:39; 1:46; 4:29; 11:34), people were invited to “come and see” for themselves what Jesus was doing before making any decisions about who He was.
We don’t have access to what the angel invited those first disciples to “come and see.” And so our journeys of faith begin with a decision about the credibility of what those who actually went and saw have told us about it. And when we do, when we trust what they have told us, then there are some other things that begin to emerge in our lives that people can actually “come and see” as evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not just in a garden tomb 2,000 years ago, but also in our lives right here and right now.
T.R. Glover (1869-1943), a Cambridge University scholar from the last generation, famously observed that Christianity finally prevailed in the ancient marketplace of ideas because the first Christians “out-thought, out-lived and out-died” the competition. And I am convinced that their capacity to do this, to “out-think,” “out-live,” and “out-die” their rivals, resided in the three claims about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ that Christianity makes, namely that He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Theologian Gabriel Fackre argues that “the resurrection is the validation… of these [three] assertions about the uniqueness of Christ.” And this is where the resurrection shows today. This is what people can still “come and see.” The resurrection is the vindication of Christ’s claim to be “the way,” and that changes the way that we live as Christians. The resurrection is the vindication of Christ’s claim to be “the truth,” and that changes the way that we think as Christians. And the resurrection is the vindication of Christ’s claim to be “the life,” and that changes the way that we die as Christians.
People today can “come and see” how the Resurrection of Jesus Christ impacts the way that we live as Christians. In Acts chapter 4, after describing the pattern of economic sharing the emerged in life of the early church with the result that it could be said of them that there was not a needy person among them (4:34), Luke tells us that “with great power” they bore witness “to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (4:33). Connect the dots.
The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the lives of those first Christians completely transformed their values. They had been raised by Christ to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), and it showed in their compassion, kindness, humility, patience, forgiveness and love (Colossians 3:12-14). Pope Francis, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, our own Feliberto Periera down in the Valley, and the dozens and dozens of quietly compelling Christians you know personally – the power of their lives is the power of the resurrection in them. Raised with Christ, they are now living like Christ, and this is something that people can “come and see!”
People can also “come and see” how the resurrection of Jesus Christ impacts the way that we think as Christians. When putting together a jigsaw puzzle you always start with the corners don’t you? Once those corners are in place then you’ve got some clear reference points within which you can get to work. And this is precisely what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ establishes for us as Christians.
History is loaded with accounts of saviors – messiahs – who made extravagant claims, who have espoused cure-all answers to life’s greatest dilemmas. In fact, Arnold Toynbee in his monumental work, The Study of History, devotes one entire chapter to the subject of saviors. He broke them down into four categories: (1) The savior with a scepter – the political savior; (2) The savior with a book – the philosopher, teacher, theologian; (3) The savior with a sword – the military conqueror and strategist; and (4) The man-god or god-man saviors – the saviors of Greek and Norse mythology. After this review, Professor Toynbee pointed out that each of these saviors ultimately capitulated to the last great enemy, death. Politicians, kings, generals, philosophers and teachers all die. And each of the demi-gods of history have likewise succumbed to the same enemy – they have ceased to be and ceased to matter. And then Professor Toynbee concluded this significant chapter with the words – “When the last civilization shall have crossed the river of death, there on the other side filling up the whole horizon with Himself will be the Savior.” (Richard Halverson)
Paul began his letter to the Romans with the announcement that Jesus Christ was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection” (1:4). When Jesus began His public ministry by getting baptized by John in the Jordan, the Gospels tell us that there was a voice from heaven that said, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). And according to Paul, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was that same kind of divine announcement. Christ’s resurrection was God’s validation of His claims and His teachings, and when you believe that they’re true you are going to act on them, and this is something people can “come and see!”
Finally, people can “come and see” how the resurrection of Jesus Christ impacts the way that Christians die. Somewhere I’ve read that in the ancient world there was the belief that people were born knowing just exactly how long they were going to live. The exact day of their deaths always loomed large in front of them, but that knowledge proved to be so painful, so paralyzing, that eventually it was erased from our souls. Well, the knowledge may be gone, but not the fear. As the author of the book of Hebrews put it, we human beings are held in bondage by our fear of death (2:14-15). But the good news is that Jesus Christ came as our deliverer to break the power of its hold on us.
Donald Grey Barnhouse was the pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for more than 30 years and was one of America’s leading Bible teachers in the first half of the 20th century. Cancer took his first wife, leaving him with three children all under 12. The day of the funeral, he was driving his family to the service when a large truck passed them, casting a noticeable shadow across their car. Turning to his oldest daughter, who was staring sadly out the window, he asked, “Tell me, sweetheart, would you rather be run over by that truck or its shadow?” Looking curiously at her father, she replied, “By the shadow, I guess. It can’t hurt you.” And then speaking to all his children, he said, “Your mother has not been run over by death, but by the shadow of death. [And] that’s nothing to fear.”
Christians die and Christians grieve just as all human beings do. But because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians have the promise that even though they die, yet shall they live (John 11:25-26). And this enables Christians to die and to grieve differently – hopefully (I Thessalonians 4:13), and this is something that people can “come and see!”
We were born too late to be able to heed the invitation of Matthew 28:6 to “come and see” for ourselves. But the witness of those that did has convinced me that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and believing this has changed absolutely everything for me forever. It has changed the way that I live. It has changed the way that I think. It will change the way that I die. And these differences that Jesus Christ has made, is making, and will make in my life is something that you can “come and see!” DBS +