The human brain has a fascinating ability to remember details of important events. The birth of a child, a wedding day, a personal tragedy—they are engraved in our cortex like steel. Some of us are old enough to remember watching the first man walk on the moon or to know exactly where we were when President Kennedy was shot. For others, we remember rushing to the television on September 11, 2001. Tragedy and joy can capture memories with unique precision.
You cannot keep the greatest news in the whole world to yourself.
Imagine, now, the state of the women who arrived at Jesus' tomb two mornings after the crucifixion (see Matthew 28:1-10). Were they numb from witnessing the death of their beloved Lord? Were they scared of the Roman guards they expected to face? Were they occupied with the problem of the stone in the tomb's entrance? While their minds must have raced with all sorts of concerns, resurrection was not among them. They were bringing spices designed to diminish the stench of death. But instead of death they found the shock of their lives: The stone was rolled away—and a fearsome angel was sitting on it.
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid." This was not a chubby, cupid-like, baby angel. Those don't exist. This was an angel of the Lord, whose presence would send chills down your spine. The angel continued, "I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said" (Matthew 28:5-6). The women were at full attention.
The angel then gave the women two sets of imperatives: "Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead . . .'" (Matthew 28:6-7). Come and see. Go and tell. These two sets of imperatives would shape the rest of these women's lives. They have shaped my life. They can shape your life as well.
COME & SEE
I've dedicated my life to inviting people to come and see. Come and see the overflowing love of God, who sent His Son into the world. Come and see the cross where He bore the sin of every repentant sinner. Come and see the power of God in the empty tomb. Come and experience His power for living. Come and receive the peace of true forgiveness. Come and experience His joy amid life's trouble. Come and experience His comfort in fear. Come and see the resurrection power that raises you from sin, guilt, and shame. Come and see the resurrected Jesus and receive His assurance of eternity with Him. Come and see.
In the years I've served the Lord, I've heard many excuses for not coming and seeing. I've heard, "The church is full of hypocrites." Well, come and join us. We have room for one more. "The church is just a big business." I'm not inviting you to come to see a church; I'm inviting you to come and see the resurrected Jesus. "I've got a lot of living to do before I become religious." I'm not inviting you to become religious; I'm inviting you to discover the resurrected Jesus, not religion. Religion kills, but Jesus gives life.
If you don't yet know the Lord, what obstacles or excuses are keeping you from coming and seeing the resurrected Jesus? Listen to Jesus' own personal invitation in Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." He's the only one who can issue that invitation.
Come and see the empty tomb. See the incredible humility of the one who set aside His splendor and glory to take on the nature of man so that everyone who would receive Him and accept His work on the cross would be reconciled to God. See the cross where the pure, holy, and righteous Jesus carried the horror and the filth of sin for everyone who would believe in Him. See sin as a source of death in the world and death in our lives. See your own mortality and recognize that every one of us will one day be separated from loved ones, from friends, from familiar surroundings, and from possessions. But, most importantly, see beyond the grave. See that death is not the end but only a transition either to an eternity with the resurrected Jesus or an eternity in hell with Satan and all his demons.
When you come to the empty tomb, you will see that Jesus is the only one who was resurrected from the dead, never to die again. And, by nature of His resurrection, He is the only one who can give you eternal life. The empty tomb says to everyone, "Jesus and only Jesus defeated sin and the grave."
GO & TELL
The women came and saw, and it changed their lives forever. The words of the angel and the empty tomb were imprinted on their brains and in their hearts. They immediately obeyed the second set of imperatives: Go and tell. In fact, they never stopped talking about what they had seen. They must have told the story a million times—because once you've seen the resurrected Jesus, once you've seen the empty tomb, you have to go and tell people about it. You cannot keep the greatest news in the whole world to yourself.
The women arrived that morning preoccupied with all kinds of obstacles and objections. What about the Roman soldiers? What about the Roman seal? What about the huge stone? But the power of God rolled away the stone of doubt, disbanded the soldiers of selfishness, broke the seal of death, and removed every obstacle and objection. They went and they told the disciples, who themselves came and saw. These followers of Jesus never stopped going and telling, even when faced with their own deaths.
The angel of the Lord still speaks to us today: Do not be afraid. Come and see. Go and tell. The empty tomb is a symbol of hope in our broken and frightful world. Death does not have the final word. Life can be imprinted on your heart in such a way that you cannot stop talking about it. Come and see.
ARE YOU READY TO GO AND TELL?
When the women left the empty tomb, Matthew tells us they went "afraid yet filled with joy" and "ran to tell his disciples" (Matthew 28:8). You may want to run to tell others, but perhaps your fear prevents you from experiencing joy as God's messenger. Here are a few steps to help you get started on the journey:
As you celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, sharing and savoring the Gospel wherever you may be, ask yourself who you could invite to come and see as you go and tell.