Al Mohler was the speaker on Thursday evening at the 2010 Shepherds’ Conference. If you would like to watch these sessions via live streaming, go here or download the videos of previous sessions here.
Al Mohler began by commenting on John MacArthur’s reading of Colossians 1:24 saying that he, Al Mohler, hears this Scripture with special attentiveness when it is read by a man who has live it. He said he feels elevated by being here. He preaches in a special sense, in a special spirit, and with a special energy because of all the pastors in attendance. He is looking forward to heaven and that “Shepherds’ Conference” as there are a lot of men he wants to meet.
Francis Schaeffer wrote a book No Little People regarding the importance of the ministry. There are no little people and no little places and there better not be little sermons, that will not do.
Turn to John 9:1-41
When Jesus passed by He saw a man blind from birth. The disciple saw a question but Jesus saw a man (there are no little people). The disciple’s questions was about who the man’s parents were that he was born blind. In other words, there must be a reason (sin) for this blindness. Since he was born blind, it must be his parents that are being judged. So they ask Jesus was it this man’s sin or his parents?
Theologically the answer is not sin. Every single thing that goes wrong, all evil (including natural evil or moral evil) traces back to the fall; earthquakes, tsunamis, an adders venom, etc. Sin is the right answer, but not sufficient.
Jesus gives a rebuke before healing the blind man; neither the man nor his parents are responsible for his blindness. The question was not about “who” is to blame, the man was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. Jesus then spits on the ground, makes clay and applies it to the man’s eyes and tells him to go wash. The blind man does what he is told. John 9:7 “so he went away and washed and came back seeing”. This is an incredible picture – the incarnate son of God spit in to the earth that he had made, applied it to his eyes.
First, the disciples had a question, now that the blind man is healed the neighbors have a question – Is this not the one that used to sit and beg? Before he was healed they noticed him, they had him pegged, they ignored him, they thought themselves superior to him, they may even have felt pity for him. But no one celebrated that this man now sees! – His neighbors do not, and his parents do not. In fact some are wondering whether he is even the same man. Some are saying “he is like him”…”they all look alike”. He kept saying I am the one. Of all people, who knows who he is…the blind man “I was blind, but now I see”.
They then took him to the “experts”, the Pharisees. It was the Sabbath on the day Jesus healed him (Jesus seems to have a habit of healing on the Sabbath and the Pharisees can’t stand this. The Pharisees asked him who healed him. The blind man doesn’t identify Jesus but the Pharisees already know. “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs”. So they ask the blind man again. What do you say about him since he healed you? The Pharisees are the ones that can’t see. Even in their questions they display their blindness. The blind man answers, He is a prophet. Here is a man ignored by everyone, and now they are asking him how he was blind and sees; he becomes the theologian. The blind man has an answer “Prophet” — He is right, Jesus is prophet, priest and king!
Vs. 18 The Pharisees then called his parents. When you don’t get the answer you want, assume he isn’t who he says he is. So they call in his parents who must have had the same questions in the past – why is our son like this, what have we done? In response they say Yes, he is our son and he was born blind. So they are then asked “How does he now see?” The parents didn’t know. They know its their son and that he was blind…but now that he sees and who opened his eyes they don’t know. They say, “ask him, he is of age, he will speak for himself”. They didn’t want the judgement of the Pharisees.
Now a second time they called the blind man. [Be careful when you hear “Give glory to God”. There are a lot of people that will use glorified language to subvert the gospel. ] Verse 25 “though I was blind, now I see”. He was not going to be entrapped by the Pharisees. This story isn’t what we thought it was about. This is not about a man born blind and now seeing but a story of the glory of God in the man receiving sight.
The people (Pharisees) that think they see are blind. When asked how he was healed the blind man answers again, bravely, why do you want to hear it again – you don’t want to become his disciples too do you? The blind man knew who Jesus was and that he had disciples. The Pharisees then reviled him. “You are his disciple, but we are the disciples of Moses” Here is an amazing thing, now that the blind man sees he finds that the world was not what he thought it was…everyone is blind. He was blind and thought all were seeing, but now that he sees he realizes he was surrounded by blind people.
Notice what this man now knows, he sees not just with his eyes. “We know that God does not hear sinners….” If this man was not from God He could do nothing. You don’t know who He is, but He opened my eyes. The Pharisees then rebuke him, “You were born entirely in sin and you are teaching us? They still think God’s judgement was on the man and he fit into their theology as long as he was blind…but now he sees. What do you do with this theological problem – the only result is a sovereign saving God.
Jesus hears that the Pharisees put him out and so He finds him and asks if he believes in the Son of Man? This man answers as a man that has been touched by the Savior. “Who is he Lord” (he will believe anything that this man tells him). Jesus answers – “You have both seen Him and He is the one talking with you”. The resulting profession from the blind man is simple, “Lord, I believe”. Salvation has come not only to his eyes but to his soul.
Jesus comes into the world in its blindness. The Pharisees ask “We are not blind too are we?” If you have to ask if you are blind, you just might be blind! It is a pathetic question. Jesus tells them their problem is not blindness like this man, its a different kind with a different end. If you have to ask if you are blind you are. Jesus was referring, not to a genetic blindness, but rather spiritual blindness. Jesus came to illuminate the world. Isaiah 29:18; 35:5-6; 42:6-7 The light of the world brings light, and is light.
What do you do with this story, preach a little message? The hinge of it all is found in verse 3 – “it was neither that this man sinned nor his parents, but so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” This is an earth-shaking reality here. This man was born blind, so that the works of God might be displayed in him. This blows theological fuses everywhere!
If that is true, than it is not just true about this man, it is true about each one of us and true of every person that ever lived. Why does anything exist? That the works of God might be displayed. This means that before there was time, God determine that in this day God planned that this man was blind and would be touched by Jesus and begin seeing. There are not just a couple principles here – there is an entire universe of meaning here!
We are blind from birth. This means just what the man came to see. He thought he was the blind among the seeing, but he was the blind among the blind. This means God had a particular purpose, a particular plan to display in a particular way. How can you say that and not come to the conclusion of other particulars?
Do we trust God to be God or not? How many people do we pass every day that need the gospel. May we see that there are no little people. There must be no little sermons. There are no little texts, every word is fully inspired.
The entire cosmos is the theatre of God’s hand at work for His glory. We know the secret to the universe, so we should not be in the position of the Pharisees. If you don’t know, don’t preach. Never see little people, a little God, a little gospel, a little message, with little conviction, with little passion or a with little sermon. If don’t believe this, if it isn’t life to us to the glory of God than “any little old sermon will do”.