‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’
‘Come and see,’ he said.
It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. (John 1:38–9)
It’s a lovely part, isn’t it? Just as Christ is beginning to appear on the public scene at the time of His baptism in the river Jordan, two of John’s disciples hear him speaking about Christ the Lamb of God. They say to Him: ‘Where are you staying? Where are you dwelling?’ And Christ simply says: ‘Come and see.’ He could so easily have given a vague answer. He could have told them where He was staying but not given them an invitation. Or He could have said to them: ‘You could drop in some day.’ But He really wanted them, and He didn’t give a description of where He was staying. He said: ‘Come and see.’
These are words that could be echoed down through the centuries, coming from Christ, from God, to us. There’s an old Scottish saying: It’s better felt than telt, which is really the same kind of principle: Come and see.
We have recently moved to a new house, and because of lockdown very few people have been able to be inside it. Lots of folks have asked me: ‘What is it like?’ and I’ve said: ‘Well, you can come and see it once we’re allowed.’ That is nothing to the invitation that Christ gives us. ‘Come and see where I live. Come and see Me in My own’ – I was going to say: ‘My own atmosphere,’ but Christ is never out of His own atmosphere. He is saying: Just come and see Me in My world.
It brought me to a part in the Old Testament that used to be preached on quite often, but I don’t think I’ve heard preached on for many years: the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon.
When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honour to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. She arrived in Jerusalem with a large group of attendants and a great caravan of camels loaded with spices, large quantities of gold, and precious jewels. When she met with Solomon, she talked with him about everything she had on her mind. Solomon had answers for all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the Queen of Sheba realized how very wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, she was overwhelmed. She was also amazed at the food on his table, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cupbearers, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the temple of the LORD. She exclaimed to the king, ‘Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and your wisdom is true! I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I had not heard the half of it! Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told. How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom! Praise the LORD your God, who delights in you … (1 Kings 10:1–9)
It is to us a lovely picture that somehow foreshadows the Lord Jesus Christ in His glory and what it is like to come and see Him. She was a great Queen of Sheba, which evidently is modern-day Yemen; it is quite tragic when you think of the state of Yemen today. She was very wealthy, and she hadn’t believed all the reports she was getting about Solomon. And so she thought: ‘I’ll go and see him.’ I think that in her mind she was certainly going to impress him with all the riches and the spices and the camels and the attendants that she came up to him with. But when she saw him and his palace and his throne and his attendants, she was overwhelmed with all the magnificence – but even more, she had a lot of questions in her mind, and she had heard that he was wise. I wonder what all she was asking him about. She ends up praising his God and seeing that honour has been brought to the Name of Solomon’s God. So I think she must have had questions about what he believed and about his God. Having asked him hard questions, all of which he was able to answer, she was overwhelmed and said: ‘I heard about it all. I didn’t believe it all, but actually the half was not told me: it is so much better.’
Christ says to us: Come and see. We cannot ever know the riches of Christ until we take the leap of faith. This happens at various stages along our Christian way, that we take a step of faith, a step of belief. It might come when we are initially finding Christ as Saviour. It does come then, but it comes sometimes when we might be at a point of deeper surrender to Him, and there are choices to be made. For some of you reading this who are younger, you’ve got life before you … The Queen of Sheba didn’t believe the King’s messengers, and I don’t know if you believe what I and others say. But we cannot tell you the half of the beauty, the splendour, the wonder that is there in Christ Jesus. His Word is true, His invitation is repeated: ‘You need to come and see. You’ll not know until you actually take the step of faith and try.’ Sometimes we come to a place of surrender where we’re not guaranteed the future, we’re not guaranteed a blessing, we’re not even guaranteed that He’ll use us, but we just say: ‘Lord, I would rather die with my face towards heaven and trying to find You than walk away and fill my life with this world and its goods and its pleasure.’
One of those who went with Christ to see where He was living was Andrew, who then brought his brother Peter to see Christ. So Peter also came to see where Christ was dwelling, and he immediately received a prophetic word from Christ and a new name. And all through his life from then on Peter really lived where Christ was. We know all his difficulties, we know the few hours for which he wavered, maybe just even a few moments – we don’t know. But essentially he didn’t leave Christ. His heart was always entwined with Christ from that first hour that he saw Him. And we know that he followed Him through a long life until what was almost certainly his martyrdom. It is from Peter that we get some absolutely wonderful words about what is to be found in Christ when we ‘come and see’. It is he who speaks of the inheritance:
… Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance – an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay … So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead … (1 Peter 1:3–6)
He could see into the eternal realm with the wonder that he already had in Christ. His heart passionately loved Christ, I think, from the moment he saw Him, and he learned to dwell increasingly in the light of His presence. He wasn’t disappointed with Him. He suffered for Him and counted it a privilege. He could see the eternal inheritance which was priceless, wonderful joy, and he said: To you who know Him He is precious.
He is not precious until we know Him. We can have a concept about Him; we can know that we ought to love Him, that He ought to be precious: and so He is in a measure, but when we begin to spend time with Him, yield our lives more to Him and obey Him, He becomes the One to whom we cling, He becomes the One who is truly altogether lovely, and is sustenance and life for every day. He is the well that will not run dry. The whole New Testament throbs with the life of Christ, the glory of God, the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. Come and see!
The Queen of Sheba asked Solomon a lot of hard questions. He was able to answer them all. Some of you reading this might have questions about God … heaven … eternity … suffering … But in that day when we see Christ we will ask Him no questions (John 16:23). His Face will be the answer, and, wonder of wonders, it can be the answer even now. Just one glimpse, Lord: only Your Holy Spirit can reveal You. Just one glimpse within the veil of the real Christ, and we have no more questions, except: ‘How long, Lord, do I need to wait until I get to be there with You?’
I close with two verses from a poem of Gerhard Tersteegen, translated by Frances Bevan:
O God, Thou art far other than men have dreamed and taught,
Unspoken in all language, unpictured in all thought.
Thou God art God – he only learns what that great Name must be,
Whose raptured heart within him burns, because he walks with Thee.
Stilled by that wondrous Presence, that tenderest embrace,
The years of longing over, do we behold Thy Face;
We seek no more than Thou hast given, we ask no vision fair,
Thy precious Blood has opened Heaven, and we have found Thee there.
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.