Two brothers were in the middle. India was in a muddle. India was losing that game of Cricket. They needed an out of the world performance from the Pathan brothers – Yousuf and Irfan – to beat Sri Lanka in that one-off T20 game on February 10, 2009 at Colombo. It was first Yousuf’s turn to turn on the heat on the Lankan bowlers. He hoisted the Lankan bowlers for sixes after six. When he saw his brother go berserk Irfan wasn’t too far behind. He too started thrashing the Lankan bowlers with impunity. And in the last over, the Pathan brothers stole a nerve-wracking win for India in that electrifying T20 game. “Chasing a stiff target of 172, Irfan (33 not out) and Yusuf (22 not out) scored 59 runs from 25 balls in the tense final moments to steer India home in a pulsating flood-lit contest at the Premadasa Stadium”, reported one website.

There was an unmistakable camaraderie that was evident between the two brothers when they put up this match-winning partnership in lightning quick-time. They hugged each other tight and celebrated!
What I saw in that gripping game reminded me of a Bible verse found in the book of Proverbs: “There is a friend closer than a brother!” (Prov 18:24) Did you know that every book of the Bible talks about Jesus at least in shadow, if not in substance? The book of Proverbs is no different. The title of “a friend closer than a brother” best fits with Jesus.

Let me explain: Though he was God Eternal, Jesus deliberately got close with humans during his earthly journey. In Lazarus, he had a buddy. He addressed him as friend (John 11:11). When Lazarus suddenly died, his sisters Martha and Mary were sobbing not knowing that Jesus would raise him from the dead. Jesus, when he reached the scene after four days also wept (John 11:35)! “Jesus wept” is the shortest Bible verse. But it is a long and loud statement that tells us how much Jesus loves us, humans. Isn’t that astounding? Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus up from the dead. Yet He wept. That day, Jesus’ handkerchief got wet, you bet! Jesus by that gesture showed that He was much closer to Lazarus than his sisters were. Here was a friend closer than his own sisters for Lazarus!
How close is Jesus to you? Do you tell Him, “Jesus, don’t come too close to me. You won’t like the thick friends I keep, the books I read, the movies and TV shows I watch, the raunchy songs I listen to on my Ipod?”

A daily, living, deep relationship with Jesus would give you unalloyed joy – something that no other thing or relationship can give you. Would you run into the one who wants to sweep you into His arms with arms open wide? Would you stick close to this “Friend who sticks closer than a brother” who, for you, on the cross, died?

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