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21st March, 2016

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"A Hopeless Condition… Bethany side!"

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."
John 11:21 NKJV

This was the consensus declaration of Martha and Mary. They did not sit down to discuss what to say, but spontaneously their hearts were poured out as each of them met Jesus. He came only four days after Lazarus their brother had died and was already laid away in the tomb; blocked off with a heavy stone and bound stiff with the grave clothes. Sympathizers had wept their eyes dry and all hope of their brother being alive was gone. All efforts at keeping him was futile and even their urgent message to Jesus, their friend and His friend was met with a seeming “I don't care” attitude. However, in their hearts the only reason why things got out of hand was because Jesus, the Master was not there. Mary sighed, sobbed and sank into her seat, as she watched her brother dying, writhing helplessly in pains... saying... “I wish Jesus just walks in right NOW! Didn't the brother we sent tell Him it was His friend Lazarus - whom He loves? Didn't he tell Him, how I was crying desperately? I wish I had gone myself to drag Him here. Now, it is too late: Lazarus! Lazarus!! Lazarus!!! Don't give up yet. He may arrive in a minute: wait still... He has never treated us like this before!”

Lazarus himself, full of expectation and hope that death would not conquer him before the Master arrived, muttered some incommunicable words that would appear to mean... “It seems he would not come for me again... If I see Him no more here, I still hope He will raise me up in the last day, at the resurrection of the dead. Though I long to live to see God's glory in the land of the living, it seems the force of death has taken the upper hand. All my cells are dry and stiff... I must bow out unfortunately.” He struggled a bit more...but his strength was ebbing away with every tick of the clock. Finally, Lazarus closed his eyes in death amidst the wailing noise of sisters, relatives and sympathizers. He would hear their voices no more, no matter how loudly they shouted.

All massaging, all pumping of his chest; all blowing into his nostrils could not restore life. None of such could bring to life, that which was dead! They pulled him here and there; some beat the tables and the chairs, and some blew the fan...all to no avail! He had gone across the river where no mortal can prevail to do anything.

Mary and Martha moved up and down in sorrow... but the only one friend that mattered at that point had not arrived. Questions upon questions sprang in their minds: “why, O God? Why didn't He respond to our emergency call? What was he doing out there in Judea and He was held down for all these days...of our trials? Where is the answered prayers He taught us about? Even if He now comes, what will He do since Lazarus is beginning to decompose already?”

Elders and other men in the community came for a caucus meeting: “what shall we do now? Mary is still insisting we don't bury him, till Jesus comes; but foul smell is filling the whole house already.” “Martha has begun to reason well at least: she says maybe it is the last day that Lazarus would rise with the dead in Christ...” “Let us hang on that and push for the quick burial...” “Don't mind Mary! She is too sentimental about this Jesus. She does nothing else, except sit at his feet, hearing Him, rubbing and washing His feet, with her tears once He is around.” “If we wait for Mary to agree, we would not progress from here. If Martha has agreed, let's bind the corpse strong with clothes, put him quickly in the tomb and place a heavy stone, otherwise, Mary may enter the tomb to go and cry again ... she is too obsessed with Lazarus. What kind of love is this? It is more than that of marital relationship!”

With this, Lazarus was buried, Martha resumed her usual bustling and hustling... cumbered as usual with much serving. She ran miles upon miles even within the compound - dashing here and there. No one could locate her particularly. “She was here just five minute ago... check her over there! Oh! She left here for the market... “But Mary, refusing to let this Lazarus go off like that, held on in faith anticipation. She kept saying intermittently: “if he were here, my brother would not have died! I am still waiting here for him to come... He promised to come. Though He tarries, I will still wait for him: He that shall come... is coming. Though they have put away my brother as 'dead', 'good for nothing', 'irretrievable', though I am exhorted to look away and forget Lazarus (as if His friend would not come to wake him up)... I will still wait for my LORD to come. He promised to come. He is faithful.”

She rose up to go to the tomb, to weep and to lament (others thought) .But I suppose, to remind her friend Jesus...” I am still holding on to your promise. I refuse to give up on 'Lazarus'... I am standing here at the tomb... I have no access to his spirit and the body. A big and heavy stone has been rolled to lock me out of touch but I know when You come all obstacles will be rolled away”... And she wept the more and her friends and disciples (so to say) wept with her. They sat all day, and all night with her, comforting her, but she was single-eyed on one thing... “If He were here, my brother would not have died; but even now, if He comes, He can still bring revival, restoration and resurrection! Lazarus hasn't finished for me, since he that will come is yet to come.”

This was the scenario at Bethany! But let us look at the other side - God's own side. As we look at the issue of revival and restoration in the Body of Christ and in the nations, we need to capture the mind of Christ as regards revival labours at this time. If we stand only on the Bethany side, there may be little hope! The 'Marys' - the next of kin to our “Lazarus” the Church, who are weeping and interceding for the revival of Christ's friend and bride - may only appear as mere fanatics who are refusing to give up the idea of restoration and move on with current thinking among men of our time. It is as we gain insight into the Lord's mind that we may have a balance, in our pursuit of revival in the Church!

It is also as you see the way He sees that you may gain a proper ground in your plea for a divine intervention in your situation. Many only cry around without understanding the basis of our receiving from the LORD. Others gave up trying as they hinged in vain on their merit for winning God's approval. Look away for a moment from your Bethany side and cast a glance at the Master's eye... you will find a compassionate LORD eager to help you...