Come and See!

A thick dusty pale hangs over the city of Sinduli, Nepal, where we’re visiting. After a long hot day of driving, it is such a gift to look out over the city from the relative cool of our room for the night. From somewhere in the valley the sing-song melody of Nepali music blares over strained loudspeakers. The combination of sights, sounds and smells make for a moment that will be etched in our minds forever.

Calvary Chapel

It makes me wonder about this article, which I’m writing in anticipation of the Christian celebration of Easter this month. I can’t help but wonder how the resurrection story of Jesus Christ has any bearing on a culture and history so predominantly Hindu. From a theological perspective, how can a resurrected Jewish Messiah compete with 33 million Hindu gods?

In order to answer that question, let me take you to Matthew’s Gospel and his record of the morning of the resurrection.

On the Sunday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, his followers came to the tomb, intending to finish the job of preparing his body for burial. They had three days to let the reality of Jesus’ death sink in. Three days to recount over and over the horrendous execution of their Master and friend. Three days to consider how completely their hopes and dreams that the long-awaited Kingdom of God had arrived, were now dashed to pieces. Three days of anticipating the heartbreaking work of preparing Jesus’ ravaged and broken body for burial.

Despite His many miracles and repeated promises that He would rise from the dead, they were utterly convinced that not even their beloved Jesus could come back from such a complete and astonishing defeat.

So, by the time the narrative records the disciple’s arrival at the tomb where Jesus had been buried, the last thing they were expecting was to find an empty tomb. Matthew writes in his Gospel, 28:5, “…an angel of the Lord …came and rolled back the stone from the door … and said “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.””

“Come, see!”

The meaning is clear. The angel rolled the massive stone away from the mouth of the tomb, not to let Jesus out, but to let His distraught followers in.

Why? Because the Jews understood from Scriptures that the grave was depicted as a mouth with an insatiable hunger. “The grave is never satisfied” (Proverbs 30:15-16). History testifies to this truth, that the grave has never returned those it has taken. Death is the consequence of sin. “The wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23 says. And again in Romans 5:12, “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Death is man’s ultimate enemy. Everything else is just a symptom. Death had always had the final word. Until now.

Jesus, having made a perfect, sinless offering of Himself to God, made the forgiveness of sin available to any and all who would put their trust in Him. The grave had no claim on this sinless Saviour and was forced to release Him. Hebrews 10:12-14 says, “But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Not only had God’s redemptive purpose been accomplished through the cross, but when He rose again He gave the certainty of a future resurrection to everyone who would put their faith and trust in Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
When Jesus rose from the dead , it wasn’t some parlour trick to impress the crowds, it was the purpose for which He came into the world, the crown of His life and mission; to defeat death and restore man to the life God originally created us for.

The disciples arriving at the tomb that fateful morning arrived at the scene of the greatest event that has ever transpired in human history.

The trauma and tragedy of the cross gave way to the flood of undying hope and joy. The disciples would never be the same. Their faith was infused with resurrection life and and ignited a fearless, deathless passion that would spread around the world.

That fire is still burning in the hearts of those who have ‘come and seen’. A people of ‘every tribe, tongue and nation’ that have met the risen Saviour just like the original disciples, and tasted of His love and life. That fire is burning and spreading still, even here in the remote city of Sinduli, Nepal, among the growing followers of the risen Christ Jesus.

So, going back to my original question, ‘how can a resurrected Jewish Messiah compete with 33 million Hindu gods’? The answer is, He doesn’t. There is no competition; no comparison. It’s not a matter of apples and oranges, but of life and death. No other religion or faith offers the unconditional gift of love and grace that the true biblical Christianity does. No other religious figure has left an empty grave as the evidence of His triumph over death.

God is still beckoning any and all to ‘come and see!’. The tomb is empty! Our sins are washed away, death is defeated, the hope of eternal life is there for the taking, to those who are willing to believe.
Come. See! Believe and receive!

By Pastor Tim Mattox
Paphos Calvary Chapel

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