The Greatest Invitation

The most profound invitation ever offered to the human mind is couched in the language of the angel who said to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, “Come, see!” As earthly things go, a tomb is quite permanent. A dead man does not walk out of his grave unassisted. When the heart ceases to beat and the bodily functions are terminated, there is little reason to believe that suddenly that same body will come to life by natural means. And yet, when a resurrection is presented as a fact from history, every shred of evidence concerning what transpired merits attention!

The angelic greeting, as offered on the morning of Christ’s resurrection to the frightened women who approached the tomb, is a ringing one! It is heaven’s salutation to a jaded world that had some few hours earlier put the Son of God to death. When the angel spoke on that golden morning, he said of the Christ: “He is not here: for he is risen.” Had the angel simply said, “He is not here,” the mind would have been left to imagine what had taken place. Graves are robbed and desecrated, and dead bodies are moved from place to place. But the heavenly messenger provided the answer: “He is risen!”

The pall of death and sorrow had shrouded the hearts of the disciples of our Lord, as He was taken to Calvary, as He was impaled upon the cross, and as He was entombed in the rock cavern that belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph and Nicodemus had evidently already embalmed the body of Jesus against corruption, thus signifying that they did not believe He would rise again. Of the same mind and purpose were the women, as they came to the tomb with their spices. Cleopas and another disciple were found by our Lord on the resurrection day, walking away in despair from Jerusalem. Evidently, not one of the early disciples believed that He would live again. They came to the tomb to look upon a dead Christ.

Death is a fearful thing because it is our enemy. Paul wrote: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). Jesus came to destroy the death-enemy! For that reason, the angel could say to those who had come to the tomb: “Fear not ye!”

What a shining hope is that word to those who even now may be lingering within the shadow of death, and to all of us as we contemplate that future hour when the shadows of life’s night shall softly close in upon us! . . . Strange, indeed, that fear should be so evident in the world’s most significant moment! Let us consider certain aspects of the angelic invitation: “Come, see!”


The day of resurrection is described as a “dawning day.” Matthew opens his resurrection chapter by saying, “As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week . . .”

. . . Today we live in the full light of the gospel day. Christianity is always bringing light—the light that comes from Him who said, “I am the light of the world.” Hence, Christians are spoken of as “children of light.”

The fruit of light is goodness and righteousness and truth. From the moment that Christ’s resurrection day dawned, marvelous things began to take place. Not long after the first good news had been made known, a new institution came to earth—the church!

On the first Pentecost following the resurrection, the first gospel sermon sounded through the city of Jerusalem. . . . When the three thousand that day obeyed the comment of God as voiced by Peter—“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”—those very people became so many living proofs of the Lord’s resurrection! Had He not been raised to life by the power of God, those three thousand would never have staked their lives on Him!


We read that very early in the morning of that significant day, the women brought “sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him” (Mark 16:1). . . . They had followed Jesus from Galilee and had been healed by him. They had heard Him teach, had witnessed His crucifixion, and had now come to pay the last tribute of respect to Him.

Who can measure or evaluate the power of love to give? Those women brought their tribute of love upon that first day of the week. Every first day of the week commemorates our Lord’s victory in the resurrection! Our worship should be a tribute of love for Him. Surely no dedicated saint of God will purposely neglect the assembling before God in honor of the Christ upon each first day of the week! When we come to worship Him, let us also bring our gifts—love-filled gifts of self and substance.

. . . [But] some people give to the Lord’s work as though they believed Christ was still in the tomb! Our living Lord desires a healthy and effective commitment of self and possessions on the part of His followers. Following His resurrection, His disciples left all to serve Him. They served without reservation and they changed the world!


“And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side” (Mark 16:5). The record indicates that this young man was an angel from heaven.

Are there any old people in heaven? There are none in heaven, and none on earth! Those whom we describe as being old are such only in body. The inhabitants of the heavenly domain are young! . . .

Eternal life is characterized by vitality and strength, beauty and grace. Unending life is promised for those who live in the Father’s eternal house! . . .

The experience of Christ casts light upon the nature of the resurrection bodies of the redeemed in Christ. Jesus was recognized in His resurrection body—a body of substance. Such a body will be animated by spiritual life, a life that shall never cease. . . . It will be free from limitations, and it will be perfect and sinless. The body which, on earth, has been used to the glory of God will be raised in order to be rewarded. The body that has been used to serve Satan and to promote his cause will be raised for punishment.


“The angel of the Lord . . . rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.”

In a very real sense, the stone that stood before the tomb of Jesus that day had been a stone of hopelessness and despair. And yet the stone was rolled away!

The gospel of Christ, the heart of which is the resurrection of Jesus, contains the dynamic of God given to dispel the darkness and ignorance and unrighteousness of the world. Such is the design of the gospel—to bring life out of death and hope out of despair. . . .

An English newspaperman, an unbeliever, once carefully studied the record found in the four Gospels in order to prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead. When he had finished his research he was forced to accept the resurrection of Christ as a fact. He rightly concluded that only God could roll away death’s stone. And God can also destroy every hindrance to hope!


The young man from heaven—the angel—had a message and an invitation. “He is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Definite proof is always identified with definite time and place. So definite was the evidence of the resurrection that the apostles of Jesus were ready to lay down their lives for the fact.

Men never willingly give their lives for a doctrine in which they do not fully believe. Certain of the apostles had looked upon the God-emptied tomb. All of them had seen the risen Christ.

Sometimes men have died for an error, but in such cases they died believing the error to be the truth. In this situation, the apostles would have known whether or not they spoke the truth. Such men would not have died for a known untruth.

Furthermore, if Jesus had not risen, His enemies would have found the evidence that He was dead. The apostles of our Lord went through the streets of the city where He had been condemned to death and faced the very men who condemned Him, and announced the facts of the resurrection! Those who slew Jesus heard their words. No one could produce evidence to show that He was still dead. The surest thing that His enemies could do was to say that His body had been stolen away while the Roman guards slept. Strange witnesses are those who bear evidence of what happened while they slumbered! . . .


The day of the resurrection was the day of days! “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” said Jesus to two on the road to Emmaus; “ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

That wonderful day had been marked out in the economy of God before the world began! . . . Prior to that day . . . no less than thirty Old Testament predictions must be fulfilled to the letter concerning that Christ! In the heart of those predictions is the one made by the Psalmist under the inspiration of God’s Spirit: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). . . .


“He is not here!” This was the word from the tomb, and it supplied the mainspring for triumphant action! We all need such a word, for we are on our own way to our graves. However, now we know the confidence of the psalmist, when he said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

Because He is risen the way home is prepared. Now is the time for me to live out my hope in a hopeless world!

Ard Hoven

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

%d bloggers like this: