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    Stay Back - Will you be the one?

Stay  Back - Will you be the one?

Stay  Back - Will you be the one?

Stay  Back - Will you be the one?

John 19:38-After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.”

Industrialist Rajiv Bajaj on Friday posed a challenge to the students: ”Don’t just drive pulsar bikes but make bikes and get involved in its production too.” Likewise, I challenge you Christians not just be happy sitting in the pew and enjoying the show, get involved in His Work, get into the manufacturing unit!  Stay back! Will you be the one?
 
It is Friday night, (5/10/2012) I’ve been praying, worshiping and reading His Word for the last four hours and I’m burning and weeping in His presence! It’s past midnight as I write this message and I’m going to talk on a subject of ‘Cost of staying back…!’  It is fresh, hot, simmering manna right from the throne Room of God! Savor it!  Can I ask you of a favor? Don’t read this message just once flippantly, keep reading it reading it, until it rips off all mediocrity, dishonesty and impertinence from you!

Let me take you back to the great and pivotal day of history when your Savior was crucified for you and me.  Many people were watching the horrendous scene: some with tears, some helplessly, some nonchalantly, some skeptically, some were face to face with Him like the Centurion and some from a distance.  After Jesus breathed His last, most of them left the scene; you must remember here that the entire place of crucifixion was like a ‘riot scene’, the earth shook, the rocks split and the huge battalion of Roman soldiers scattered around that place, made the place look more gorier.   (Mathew 27:51) I have taken references from all the four Gospels, hence nothing is from imagination.  Think! In the midst of this mille, a bunch of people never left that place, they hung on there; they did not pack up, wiped their tears and leave like many leave us when we desperately need them.  I remember the day when not a single person stayed with us after my father’s funeral.  With me eldest in the family and two sisters after me, the last one was around 14 that time, we were four women, including my mom, left alone to fend for ourselves.  Friend, staying back during times of crisis involves paying a price, investing precious time, taking off from work, putting up inconveniences, shouldering responsibilities and most important helping out financially.  Who would want to take such risks? Not many, though.

While the others left, there were a bunch of ‘Jesus-lovers’ who kept vigil on that place and were ready to do everything for their Great Master.  Among them were: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses, Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds and Joseph of Arimathea. I want to talk today about the one who took courage to approach and plead with Pilate to handover the body of Jesus: Joseph of Arimathea, who is the main figure in the burial of Jesus.  Let me tell you something more of Joseph, he was:

•       A Jew, council member, a good and just man.
•       He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews
•    a secret disciple of Jesus, for fear of the Jews,
•    a rich man
•    He had not consented to the Sanhedrin decision and action to see Jesus executed.
•    and most important one looking for the Kingdom of God.

Being a prominent member of an elite group of Jews who abhorred Jesus, we find Joseph secretly adored Jesus! Ah! Who can resist His divine love! But fear of Jews and the riches in his life I guess kept him underground; there are hoards of people out there who are clinging to their jobs, wealth and BMWs and putting God behind their back.

Rev Charles Spurgeon said :”Beware of the pride of life, the lust for rank, the desire to hoard—for any of these may prevent your service to your Lord. Riches puff men up and prevent their stooping to find the ‘Pearl Jesus’ of great price.”  

However, after the display of colossal love of Jesus on the cross, Joseph could not constrain his love for Jesus anymore, he boldly approaches Pilate for the body of Jesus.   Mark 15:46 explains the scene wonderfully, “Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.” While the other members of the Sanhedrin remembered that Jesus prophesied that he would rise again in three days and appealed for a guard at the tomb (Mathew 27: 62), Joseph dared to seal the tomb himself, knowing their wicked plans. As Joseph moved in and out of Pilate’s palace seeking permission and getting orders for the proper burial of Jesus, I’m sure he met his buddies (Jews) on the way and as they were staring daggers at him, nothing deterred the determination of this man who was now sold out for Jesus.  Joseph of Arimathea!  Romans 8:35” Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  People who love Him colossally and enormously have to pause here with wet eyes!  When people ask me, ‘Bala, what made you take the risk and give up a secured job and a structured life? As a mother of two kids and the latter one being an infant, I dared to leave everything behind for the sake of my passionate love for Him! I still stand despite the storms and tornadoes because I love Him! The new tomb offered for Jesus belonged to Joseph of Arimathea!  It sure requires passionate love for Jesus to do this in the midst of violence and antagonism that surrounded that place.  This group had one thing in mind, and that is, JESUS; they were oblivious to every other thing that was happening around them. They stayed back to take care of Him! We brag about Jesus carrying us on His shoulders like a Father, here was Joseph of Arimathea who carried the body of Jesus Christ on his shoulders! Wow! Anybody listening?

Around 50 thousand people gathered in Guntur to hear Pastor Yesanna preach and sing with his lovely booming voice, I was mesmerized by his songs even before I understood telugu properly, such was the anointing.  His songs would reverberate morning and evening in our home and church, his sudden death in September of this year shattered me.  I watched his funeral procession on web, when the time came to lay his body in the coffin box, the scene was emotional; a group of his beloved, ardent followers were clinging to his body and weeping.  I felt choked!  I watched around 10 people holding his head and body lovingly and carefully; what a privilege to hold this man of God!  As his body was taken into the coffin box, they were trying to touch him for the last time and finally they had to forcefully put him inside.  Now, this group that were gathered around the coffin box were the ones who were his close followers, and some from the crowd were the ones who loved him much.  They endured the heat and the crowd, the push and the pull, they had traveled long distance just to see, feel and touch his body!  You got my point?  You got to pay a price for staying back!

I’m not through………..

All the four gospels cover these details very explicitly, intimately and minutely because they are just too delicious and precious to skip.  I will pick this scripture from the book of John now, because he brings out the entrancing beauty of that scene more expressively.   Read John 20:1”Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and a group of women who followed Jesus came back to the tomb!” For what? To anoint Him!  Man, this is too wonderful! I just can’t proceed…..! Is there anyone out there with such love?  

Mere words and a T shirt printed with JESUS on it would do not good, wearing big cross on your neck and releasing a Christian music album with most of the tune plagiarized from cine music would do no good, dig deeper into the accomplishments and most likely there will be ‘taking of credit’ from other skilled and competent members. We jump, we talk, we post comments, pics, slides on Facebook, we book huge auditoriums and jump alright; is there anyone to stay back and serve Him.  George Verwer, Founder of Operation Mobilisation (OM) had come to India for ministry with his team, after the meeting on the first day, the team had gone to sleep because they were dead-tired, but George Verwer when he saw the huge mass of people sleeping on the streets of Mumbai, he wept and in the quietness of the night, he went around distributing Gospel tracts to people.  When I read this I wept and wept and wept!  We as Indians have we ever done this?  I am speaking to Youth Leaders and Servants of God now!  I am speaking to young men/women?  Have you gone out of your comfort zone to serve Him?  I picked up this book ‘Out of the comfort zone’ from second sales and bought it for ten bucks because I had no money to buy expensive ones, there were days I dug my hands into the ‘free distribution counter’ because I did not even have ten bucks.  I have no inhibitions in saying this; I have loved my Savior that colossally that hugely, to have abandoned my ‘all’ (you will never understand what it means when I say ‘all’ – absolutely everything to the last penny) to walk behind Him and serve Him.  When I watched little children wandering aimlessly on the streets of Hyderabad, I decided to start a ‘Free School’ for the poor and abandoned and we had started the project for God.  Click ‘ABIDE SCHOOL, Hyderabad’  to view and read more about the school.

Most of the worship leaders do not even read the Word before they come on the platform to lead the worship, no wonder we have empty clamoring. I don’t intend to offend anyone, my point is to slash away complacency from the body of Christ, especially from us Leaders! We need to be above the ordinary and allure people to Christ!  Jesus said, we got to be a city on a hill!  Sadly we remain molehills!

Sorry for the digression, coming back to Mary Magdalene, they brought all the expensive spices to anoint Him (Mark 16:1) God watched everything!  While they were thus seeking Him, they saw an angel with white robe and he said: ”why are you weeping?” Mary cried, ‘they have taken my Lord…!’ This was enough and enough for the Lord!  He could not resist any longer, He just jumped up and came to her!  As we come to the grand finale of this message, let me quote the scripture, (John 20:14)“Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there !”  Terrific!  But Mary did not recognize Him! She told Him,” Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away." I will take Him away! I will take Him away! These words just flabbergasted me! It is these, it is these, it is these…… fervent words of Mary Magdalene that made me sit up for several hours weeping and writing this piece in the night at His Feet!  The two predominant characters who displayed immense love in taking care of the anointing of the body of Jesus are Joseph of Arimathea and Mary Magdalene!
   
If you love him ‘explosively’ and crazily you will stay back to serve Him!  I want to kindle an ‘earthquake’ within your heart! Let it explode for Jesus! Don’t allow your past to ruin and damage your future!  Leave it behind, squash all the questions raised by the devil: why did I have such an abusive childhood, why did I not prosper, why did my mother die, why did my brother leave us…? How long are you going to linger behind and allow the devil to devastate your life? Arise for Him!

This message is to emphasize on the ‘cost of staying back for Jesus!’  Stay back to help your pastor at church, stay back to participate in the missions work along with the church, stay back in the church to help the choir, stay back to help out at the church Sunday school, stay back to help your mom-in-law, stay back to help your boss, stay back in the night to spend a night in prayer at least once a month.

Rev. George Muller, the man who took care of ten thousand Orphans, got saved from a very sinful age at the age of 20, at the age of 24 he joins the Seminary.  He began to gather with some of his fellow students from six till eight each morning (2 hours) for prayer and Bible reading.  So sweet did he find communion with God now that after the communal prayers in the evening he used to go to his room and pray till midnight. Then so full of joy that he would not keep it to himself, he would go to the room of another student and finding him in a similar state, pray with him until – hold your breath – 1am or even 2 am, this would not prevent him from being up again to join others in prayer at 6 am.  At the age of 26 he accepted to serve in the church without a fixed salary.  At the age of 27, he took steps in forming an orphanage and when he was 31 he formally announced to open an orphan house.  When you ‘stay back’ to pray while others slept, God would stay back and promote you quickly and speedily.

Desire is the starting point of all achievement,
not a hope, not a wish,
but a keen pulsating desire,
which transcends everything.

I have written this through the night …but, but still I want to stay back with Him!

 

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