Come and see.
Not just “let me tell you,” not just “you’ll find out soon enough,” but Come and See.
Come and see the wonderful things that will happen, come and see events like the one John described, that time that the Spirit descended and stayed with me. Come and see.
And so like good Jewish men, John’s disciples asked where he was staying. A token of hospitality, a welcome to the town, a standard question for those without a home nearby.
Come and see.
By the time they arrived at this nameless place, they must have seen more than a bed. They saw a movement – a person who was making all things new – and they stayed with him the rest. of. the day.
And they didn’t stop there! Oh no. Andrew, who had been one of John the Baptist’s disciples, couldn’t contain himself. He had to tell his brother. He ran to Simon, proclaiming “we have found the Messiah, the Anointed, the Chosen one!” So Peter dropped his things and followed Andrew – he just had to come and see.
Since the very beginning of Christianity, from the time that a couple of Jewish men were curious about another Jewish man, the primary job of all involved has been to share what we see, and invite others to come along. Not threaten, or coerce, or intimidate; not to woo or wheedle or plead, but to see. And share.
At its heart, that is what discipleship, what mission, what evangelism is. It is noticing what God is doing in our lives, sharing it with others, and inviting them to come and see for themselves.
It’s not about tracts, or laws, or litmus tests, but about noticing and celebrating. About inviting others in, not keeping others out. It’s about proclaiming to the world “Come and see!”
Now, that’s perhaps not the response that the two men were looking for when they asked where Jesus was staying. They were just trying to gather information. Just hoping to stay close enough to be interested, but away enough to remain anonymous. But Jesus doesn’t let them stay there in that sweet, safe spot. That’s not really God’s M.O., is it? For whatever reason, Jesus doesn’t even answer their question. He just invites them: “Come and see.”
And they do. They came and they saw so much that soon they became the people who called out to others, “Come and see.”
The challenge, of course, is that few of us have much experience, or much comfort, in evangelism. We aren’t the type of denomination that goes door-to-door, and most of us are more middle-of-the-road than to point-blank asking strangers if they’ve accepted Jesus. But not all evangelism, not all discipleship, even, should be this way. We have all had that experience of awe, of wonder, of knowing that this – this moment – this is something special. We have all had deep convictions that we know come out of something – somewhere – other than us. And we have the obligation to turn to others and say, in our own way, “Come and see.”
Tomorrow, our nation will celebrate one of these disciples, a man who spent his life studying God’s word and telling the world how it should shape what they see. It wasn’t just about telling people what the world should be, or telling people where the injustices were, but showing them. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. invited the nation to “come and see” what was happening in Mississippi, to “come and see” how much the Montgomery bus system actually depended on the very people they treated as second-class, to “come and see” the outrage of overworked, underpaid laborers in Tennessee. By inviting people into the journey, others were able to see and invite others in as well.
For some, there was a sense of dropping what they had been doing, like Peter leaving his nets behind, to turn to the movement. But there was a larger context, a progressive build-up, in which they had spent years in preparation for the roles they would assume. John the Baptist prepared those who were seeking. Rosa Parks said “now is the time.”
There was the experience of inviting and bringing people together, everyone seeing what was happening, and struggling to understand. Of calling out the vision, bringing light to their line of sight, and causing disciples to stick around for the rest of the movement. But there was plenty of time alone, isolated time that every disciple has felt along his or her journey. There was time before and after the speeches, time in jail (where Jesus, and John, and Martin would stay), when the light that had brought them this far had to remain within, trusting in God’s Holy word to never fail them.
In Isaiah’s second Servant Song, the servant knew God before birth. This is a thing of comfort, and a thing of frustration. For the servant knew God’s plans, trusted God’s call, and knew there was more work to do. There’s always more work to do. But from God’s word comes not dismissal but assurance: hearing God speak again reassures the Servant of the work yet to be done, renews the calling, and encourages the Servant to move on to bigger promises.
Our work in this world is never done. There are always more people to invite, and more from whom we can accept that invitation to “Come and see.” Tomorrow we celebrate one great man in our recent memory; one who dared for us to come and see how good a life lived in the gospel can be for all. And while we sometimes feel as if we cannot live up to the task, I assure you we can. we have stories of ordinary people who did, who invited others to come along and see for themselves. May we rest in the assurance of their memory, the promise of their legacy, and follow their invitation wherever it may lead us.
Don’t believe me? Come and see.
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