I went to Michael’s funeral yesterday, and it was the highlight of my day. Michael was 51, and his brother Herman and sister Sue will miss him, but I believe they too were joyful even in sadness. Complications from diabetes finally took Michael out of this world, but the disease of the devil was not fast enough to overtake the plan of God in his life, and death became merely a doorway straight to heaven.
Herman stood up and read to a packed room from John 1 about how the first thing Andrew did when he found Jesus was to go tell his brother Peter, and how Peter came right away and followed Jesus too. Then when Philip was introduced to Jesus, the first thing he did was tell Nathanael, and straightaway Nathanael came too.
So when Herman got saved in 1982, he thought that’s the way it must work: When you find Jesus you go tell your brother—and your brother swiftly joins you.
You can appreciate, then, Herman’s surprise when he went immediately to tell his younger brother Michael about Jesus, and Michael got mad and said to never say that to him again. Undaunted, Herman persisted, to the point that Michael threatened to punch him in the nose if he kept it up. Herman kept it up—and Michael punched him in the nose.
In February of 2013, Michael was in the hospital with a diabetes-related problem. Herman came in and after a few minutes read from a Bible:
“… these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, ESV).
I guess you never know what portion of the Word is going to “work” on someone. Herman was about to close the book, but Michael stopped him and said, “Read that again.” Herman did, and Michael had him read it two more times and then exclaimed, “I got it! I got it.” Disbelieving for joy, Herman asked him, “Michael, where are your sins?” Michael: “Gone!” Herman: “What about the sins you committed just yesterday?” Michael: “Gone!” Herman: “What about the sins you committed just an hour ago?” Michael: “Gone!”
That happened a good three decades after Herman had first come to his brother and told him he found the Messiah. So things didn’t turn out quite like in John Chapter 1. But for me and perhaps many others in the assembly it was a bigger blessing, as we were encouraged not to give up on the prodigals in our lives who at the moment would rather punch us in the nose than hear the gospel.