Moving from “Come and See” to “Come and Die”

Share via:

Ever had the conversation where Insider Bob passionately lets you know that he doesn't think much about your strategy to provide easy first steps for unconnected people?

Or maybe Bob gets wind of the study you've chosen for the fall church-wide campaign and lets you know that it's nowhere deep enough or challenging enough for them.

Even worse, he finds out that "hosts" aren't required to be members and are being encouraged to fill their groups with their own friends!

Hey...if you're working hard to connect the people at crowd's edge, you've talked to Bob. We all have.

Here's the thing, though. One of the most overlooked and misunderstood aspects of Jesus' model of discipleship is that His first invitation was "come and see."

Even a quick reading of the opening chapters of Matthew, Mark and John will give you what you need to grasp this important understanding. It ought to be clear that the events of John 1:19-51 precede those of Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20.  "Follow me" was later. "Take up your cross" was even later.

If we want to help adults in the 21st century become followers of Jesus, disciples, we need to begin the way Jesus did in the 1st century. "Come and see." Yes, it is vital to understand that the call progresses to "come and die." But it doesn't begin there. It begins with "come and see." See also, Even a Lizard Can Respond to "Come and See."

What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Tony Armstrong

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Rick Howerton on December 20, 2012 at 5:30 am

    Hi Mark,

    Had to jump into this one.

    This cliche has gained so much ground that it is affecting the way we make disciples. I think this phrase does demand some scrutiny, especially in a post-Christian era, an era when Christians remain silent about their Christ, are embarrassed to mention HIs name except when at small group or when talking with other believers, and while those belief systems whose members are willing to die for a false prophet are growing in number and passion.

    A few questions I believe we have to answer:

    1. Is this principle biblical… really? This cliche only speaks of Jesus’ relationship to the twelve. But Jesus was after the multitudes to become His disciples and He didn’t wait until they had been with Him two years to point out that they must be willing to give up all that they had including their lives if they were going to be His followers. Luke 15: 25 begins with the words, “Large crowds were going along with Him:” These weren’t just those who had been with Jesus for two years, they were the multitudes following the new celebrity. He went on to say to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

    31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

    Jesus specifically tells this large crowd that, if they are going to be one of His disciples that they must be willing to not just, “come and see,” but maybe, “come and die.” In fact, He never invites them to just come and see.

    Any person living in this location in this time period knew that carrying his cross would mean dying. For some, this must’ve been their first encounter with Jesus yet He told them that, if they were going to be one of His disciples, they must be willing to not only give up relationships and material possessions, they must be willing to even give up their lives.

    Bottom line… Jesus asked them to count the cost before becoming one of His disciples and if they weren’t willing to pay with their lives then there was no way they could be a true disciple of His.

    2. Is it possible in all cultures to wait two years after becoming a follower of Christ before you can die for Him? For centuries, in some locations, a person who chooses to become a follower of Christ may have also chosen death. The belief system in those areas allows no room for Christians and so, those who choose to become followers of Christ are fully aware that they have also chosen death. I would imagine Jesus gave the information He gave to the crowds following Him in Luke 15 for this specific reason.

    3. Are the churches espousing this cliche purposefully, strategically, and without hesitation sitting down with someone who came to Christ two years before and letting them know that death is the possible outcome of being a Christ follower? Perhaps this is the greatest test concerning whether or not a church is more about making disciples than drawing and holding a crowd.

    Mark, because we’ve set aside the hard expectations of Jesus so long, I don’t know how we espouse them now. I just know that we have a generation of believers quick to be in community and slow to speak boldly of their Jesus, a generation of believers who will stand up for their pastor but ashamed to stand up for the Christ, a generation of group members who aren’t even willing to commit to group covenant much less commit to die for Jesus.

    Perhaps we need to consider allowing Christ to raise the bar using His own words found right here in Luke 15.

    Thanks for starting this conversation, Mark. I believe it may be one of the most important conversations the church needs to have.

    Appreciate you, friend.

    Rick Howerton

  2. markchowell on December 20, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Thanks for jumping in here, Rick! I know this is an important idea for you and I think we are probably very close in our thinking. While I know there are churches (and small groups) that never extend the call to truly follow Christ, to take up the cross daily, that’s not what Jesus modeled. I think you’ll agree though, that the reason crowds were following Him is that He invited them to “come and see” first. They liked what they heard, they liked what they saw, they invited their friends, the crowd swelled, and then with increasing frequency, Jesus called them to a higher commitment. Was it two years? No. Did it happen in His first messages? I don’t think so. Actually, in His first messages we’re told that “the people were amazed by His teaching” and “they heard Him gladly.”

    I do hear your heart on what Gabe Lyons and others would refer to as cultural Christians or nominal Christians Post-Christian era tendency to “remain silent about their Christ.” I get you 100%. But…and I think we agree here…for non-Christians to take a step in the right direction, they must see real, authentic Christ followers and be invited to “come and see.”

    What do you think?


  3. Daniel on December 21, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for the insightful and stimulating comments Rick – a timely reminder not to cheapen the message. Agree 100% on the danger of shallow christianity.

    However, I’d add an extra line of discussion which supports Mark’s point: you are correct in saying that those hearing Jesus’ message directly would have had a variety of experiences. But God’s plan apparently was for most of us to hear Jesus’ message indirectly, via the 4 gospels. And a hearer of at least 3 out of the 4 gospels gets a very clear progression: “Come and see” comes first, then “come and die”… right through to “go and tell”.

  4. markchowell on December 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Good insight, Daniel! This is a very important discussion, I think. Thanks for jumping in here!


  5. Rick Howerton on January 2, 2013 at 7:39 am

    For sure, Mark. Maybe the real question is the one you entered into the conversation… What is an authentic/biblical Christ follower? I often wonder if the reason the church in the west is dying is because what the unbeliever views when they view a Christ follower in our world today would not even speak of Jesus, none the less die for Him. People don’t tend to join movements whose members are passionate about being part of an organization, the church. They join a movement whose members are sacrificing because they believe so deeply in the leader of the movement, in our case, Jesus Christ. This is why, in my comment, I asked if those churches who hold to this cliche ever do purposefully do as Jesus did an raise the bar. From what I’ve seen in the many churches I’ve consulted, those who are about drawing a large crowd realize that, if they, after drawing us to an easy gospel share a dangerous gospel expectation, those they’ve drawn will bail and find a church that allows them a generous helping of cheap grace rather than costly grace.

    Mark, I certainly don’t know the answer to this complex question, I’m just finding myself overwhelmed with a passion to conclude why Christianity is dying in the west and I am beginning to believe that this is one of the reasons that she is losing traction.

  6. Rick Howerton on January 2, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Thanks for the response, Daniel. Please see my response to Mark’s response below.

  7. markchowell on January 2, 2013 at 8:12 am

    There’s no question that there are certainly many churches that never make the call for deeper commitment. You are absolutely correct and we are in agreement.

    My sense, though, is that this isn’t a new thing or limited to the “come and see” movement (if I can call it that). I think it can regularly be found in churches of all stripes, large and small, traditional and contemporary.

    I join you in what I think is your central question: How can help churches purposefully make authentic Christ followers, true disciples? It’s not enough to come and see. It’s about moving from that to “come and die.”