Is Zeke Your Brother
My cousin Carl passed away recently.
One word always comes to my mind whenever someone mentions Carl’s name. WHO? To which Zoranda always says, “They’re talking about Zeke.” You see, I didn’t know Carl, I knew Zeke.
Zeke was a good man.
We weren’t especially close. Not in the sense that we confided in each other about life’s great mysteries. But we were close in the sense that we were related. I am pleased to tell you he was my cousin.
Although my cousin, he seemed more like an uncle. Him being nearly my Dad’s age.
We shared Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grand Parents and a few friends. I’m sure he had a much close relationship than I did with most of them, again because of the age difference.
He served in the Air Force for a very short time. It’s my understanding that he and Dad figured out a way to add a couple years to their ages by changing their birth certificates. That way they could get in under the age limit. I remember Dad saying they must have really been hurting for help because it was real obvious what they had done.
They ended up getting in and at some point Zeke decided he didn’t care for the life of an airman and confessed to what he had done. They sent him home and at some point later after he was of age, he joined the Army. I’m not sure I understand the wisdom of that decision, having retired from the USAF.
In spite of being a counterfeiter, Zeke was a good man.
I remember a story about the Air Force days Dad used to tell. It seems, according to Dad, Zeke had a real problem with authority. They were out on a detail and after finishing the job, headed back toward the barracks. According to Dad, Zeke had his hat tilted back on his head. They could see off in the distance an officer coming up the sidewalk. Dad told Zeke he’d better straighten up his hat or he’d be in trouble. I’m paraphrasing now, but, Zeke said something to the effect that he wasn’t especially concerned about what the officer might think and phooey on him! Well, as the officer approached, in spite of Zeke’s apparent lack of concern, the officer did share his thoughts with both of them for about 5 minutes. He chewed them up one side and down the other. After the officer had left, Dad asked Zeke, “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just straighten up your hat?”
I’ve heard my Dad tell that story more times than I could count. Shortly after Dad passed away, I heard Zeke tell that same story. Word for word, except it was Harold that had a problem with authority. It was Harold that had his hat on crooked. It was Harold with the lack of concern for what the officer might think. And it was Zeke who asked, “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just straighten up your hat?” I guess we’ll never know!
In spite of the contradiction, Zeke was an honest man.
He owned many semi’s over the years. I spoke to a man just a few days after Zeke passed away that told me he bought 2 trucks from Zeke years ago. He said the trucks were exactly as represented. Right down to the last bolt. He also mentioned that he had some kind of trouble getting the license plates for the trucks and Zeke said “Just use mine till you get them.” He ran the trucks on Zeke’s plates for several months.
Zeke was a good man.
Zeke had strong ties to the family. I don’t believe he ever missed a family reunion. I missed a lot of them while serving in the Air Force and touring as a musician. Every one that I did make it to, Zeke was always there. Several times Zoranda and the kids went without me. Zeke was always one of those that sent a “Tell Mike I said hello” back home with her.
I mentioned earlier that we weren’t especially close. I can tell you for sure that he cared about me. How? He cared enough to find out what was going on in my life and he cared enough to remember it. Every time we met, the conversation picked right up where we left off. There was nothing phony about Zeke.
Zeke was definitely a good man. But…
Zeke had liver cancer. Zeke was given only days to live.
The morning prior to Zeke’s death, his sister called me. Zeke wanted to talk to me. I went over to be with him and found him very tired and weak. Zeke wanted to pray because he understood something that I want to share today.
Turn with me to John 14:1-15.
I. The disciples were bewildered and discouraged. Jesus had previously said
He was going away (7:34; 8:21; 12:8, 35; 13:33)
He would die (12:32-33)
one of them was a traitor (13:21)
Peter would disown Him three times (13:38)
Satan was at work against all of them (Lk 22:31-32)
all of them would fall away (Matt. 26:31).
II. To comfort the disciples, and us, Jesus gave several exhortations with the promises.
14:1-2. Don’t be troubled. “Troubled” is tarassesthō (“stirred, agitated”). The heart is the center of our personality. Every believer is responsible for the condition of his heart (Prov 3:1 let your heart keep my commandments; Prov 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence). By trusting in God the Father and Jesus the Son, death should not be a terror because Jesus has gone to prepare a place in heaven for us in the Father’s house.
Imagine, God created the whole world in 6 days. He has been working on our homes in heaven for over 2000 years!
14:3-4. His coming back refers to the Rapture of the church when Christ returns
1Thes 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
We will be with Him
John 17:24 "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Jesus told them, v4 “You know the way where I am going”.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus had been showing them the way
14:5 Thomas asks “how can we know the way?”
14:6 “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”, the 6th of 7 “I am” statements in the Gospel of John
6:48 "I am the bread of life”.
8:12 “I am the Light of the world”
10:9 “I am the door”
10:11 “I am the good shepherd”
11:25 "I am the resurrection and the life”
15:1 "I am the true vine”
14:6 “No one comes to the Father except through Me”
contrary to what some say, salvation is not obtainable by many ways. Jesus is the only access to the Father.
14:7 “If you really knew Me, you will know My Father as well”
this may be a promise or a rebuke
14:8 indicates a failure on the disciples’ part. Philip expressed a universal desire of mankind: to see God. This desire can easily lead to idolatry. Philip was probably longing for a theophany, a visible display of God’s glory.
14:9 Jesus’ statement, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”, indicates the Father is in Jesus and Jesus perfectly reveals the Father. No theophany is necessary. Seeing Jesus they were seeing the Father!
14:10-11 Jesus and His Father is threefold. They should believe Jesus
because His character is the Father’s character
because His words are the Father’s words
because the miracles reveal the Father working through Him
John stresses the miracles as pointers to faith. (5:36; 10:25, 38; 11:47; 12:37)
20:30-31 “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
It is important to note that there is no serious indication throughout history to refute the miracles of Jesus Christ. Even by His opponents!
14:12-14 The prayers of believers will be answered. It begins with the very first prayer a believer must pray. The prayer of confession of Jesus as the Christ. The prayer of acceptance of Jesus as Lord. The goal of answered prayers is to bring glory to the Father.
14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” This indicates action. Keeping commandments indicates a change in thinking, a change in behavior, a changed life. The test, if you will, of salvation.
Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us. He also said “I am the way and the truth and the life. Noone comes to the Father except through me.” What exactly was Jesus saying? What exactly did Zeke come to understand? Zeke was a good man, but you can’t be good enough to get to a heavenly home. There is only one way, Jesus.
Zeke knew being good wasn’t good enough. He knew he was moments away from eternity and wanted to pray. He wanted to be sure he was ready to meet his maker without fear. He wasn’t sure. Zeke was a good man but good isn’t enough.
Praise God, I led Zeke to an assurance that Jesus was his Savior. With that assurance he was able to sleep.
I am pleased to say Zeke was my cousin. I am pleased to say that Zeke was more like an uncle. But, I am most pleased to tell you today, Zeke is my brother.
I would ask you, “Is Zeke your brother?” If he is, rejoice, you will meet him someday in glory.
If not, don’t leave today until he is your brother. Don’t have the final words be said of you someday… He was a good man, or she was a good woman. As Zeke discovered, and would want me to tell you, good isn’t good enough. It takes Jesus. I invite you to come as we sing and met Jesus our Savior.
*parts of outline drawn from Bible Knowledge Commentary