An invitation this Lent to ‘come and see’

One of the most influential Christians of all time started his journey by responding to the invitation to ‘come and see’. This Lent, the Archbishop of York invites us to do the same…

21 February 2021

Seeing God in Jesus

We Christians believe that the Bible tells the great story of God’s love for the world he has made and for the people he has called. This story reaches its climax in Jesus, who is the one who leads us to God. For many people growing up in Britain today, however, it is not self-evident that Jesus is the way to God.

To all their questions, there can only be one reasonable response: come and see! Because the invitation of the Christian faith is to come and see and find God as he is revealed in Jesus through the Bible. These words of invitation, ‘Come and see’, are in fact the very words that Jesus says to Andrew, who then immediately brings his brother Peter to also encounter Jesus. ‘Come and see’ are what we, too, are invited to do.

Encountering God in Jesus

When we open the Bible and read the stories of the Christian faith, we are not being invited just to read a book but to meet a person. The whole of the Bible centres upon the revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points towards him, and in the New Testament he is revealed as the one who is our God come down to earth. Therefore, this invitation – like the one that was given to Peter – is to a relationship with God, in and through Jesus.

Because the Bible is the indispensable record of what God has done in Jesus, it is also the indispensable stepping stone into this relationship. But it is the relationship with God that matters. This doesn’t mean we leave the Bible behind, just that it is not the Bible we worship. The Bible introduces us to Jesus; it then becomes the handbook of our Christian faith, guiding us through life until that great day when we will see God face to face.

‘The word was made flesh: we must not turn it back into a word.’

The word was made flesh: we must not turn it back into a word. That would be a denial of all that the biblical writers set out to achieve. Rather, they want that word to be born in you.

Called to follow Jesus

Come and See offers a series of Bible readings that tells the story of one disciple, Peter, and of what happened to him from his first being invited to come and see, through to his own witness to Jesus after the resurrection. He is the one whom Jesus himself described as ‘the rock’ upon which ‘I will build my church’ (Matthew 16:18).

‘As you get to know Peter, you will discover a very human, very frail, very fallible follower of Christ.’

You might be thinking that such a person isn’t really a helpful guide for someone just starting out in the faith. But as you get to know Peter, you will discover a very human, very frail, very fallible follower of Christ.

In Peterborough Cathedral, where I worked for a number of years, there is a statue of Peter, which depicts that moment when, having heard Jesus’ call, he steps out of the boat to walk across the water. In the statue, Peter is portrayed with an almost child-like confidence – but he is about to sink. The story of his vocation is a story not just of responding to a call, but of learning what this call involves.

Peter struggles, prevaricates, fails and soldiers on in the same way that so many of us do. In the end, he triumphs, not because of his brilliance or eloquence but because of his faithfulness to Jesus. He will have to be saved many times before he is able to become the person God is calling him to be.

In Peter’s footsteps

Peter kept on coming back to see and find out more. If we do the same then we too can become disciples of Jesus Christ and, like Peter, be living stones in the church that Jesus built.

We invite you this Lent to follow Peter’s journey of faith, not because of his brilliance or even his faithfulness, but because he shows us what being a disciple of Jesus is actually like. In this way, I hope that you will learn more about the Bible, be introduced to Jesus and begin to learn how to be a follower of Jesus.

Adapted from the preface and introduction to Come and See by Stephen Cottrell.

Stephen Cottrell

Most Revd Stephen Cottrell is the 98th Archbishop of York. He is a well-known writer and speaker on evangelism, spirituality and catechesis, and is a past contributor to BRF’s Bible reading notes.

Come and See by Stephen Cottrell

When we look at the life of Peter – fisherman, disciple, leader of the church – we find somebody who responded wholeheartedly to the call to ‘come and see’. Come and meet Jesus, come and follow him, come and find your life being transformed. 

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