THE STORY — IT'S ALL ABOUT WORSHIP
by Pastor Mike Fortune
April 26, 2008
Introduction: BlueFishTV Clip Sports Sunday: The Big Show
It's all about worship because...
- Jesus always hears [John 9:35, 31, Luke 18:13; Genesis 18:23-32]
- He first loved us [John 9:36-38; 1 John 4:15-17,19]
- Our guilt is gone [John 9:39-41; 1 John 4:15-17; John 5:24; Romans 8:1; 10:20]
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - "Made to Worship", written by Ed Cash and beautifully sung by Chris Tomlin, was named song of the year at the 2008 Christian Music Awards. I won’t scare you by over singing it like that girl in the funny clip about worship extremes. But we will be talking about it because our passage today, concluding the story about the blind man Jesus healed, is all about worship.
So let’s get started. John 9:35-41 says, “35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." 37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." 38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." 40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" 41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
I really love the first part of this passage. It says in verse 35 that Jesus had heard that the Pharisees had thrown the once blind man out of the synagogue. It doesn’t say for certain, but most folks think this excommunication or disfellowship was the 30 day ban for certain offenses such as derogatory speech against those in authority. Remember how he sarcastically asked the Pharisees in John 9:27 “Why do you want to hear me tell my story again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” So that 30 day ban probably was increased to a lifetime ban because verse 38 in today’s passage implies that he kept telling his story. So they kicked him out of the synagogue. Which had to be devastating to him. And many others like him who chose to follow Jesus. Or Jesus wouldn’t have warned them of this very possibility in John 16:2 which reads, “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.”
But because the synagogue and going to church was such a big deal to them—as it is to every person eternally grateful to the King of the Universe who first loved us. Which we’ll talk about that in a minute—it had to be devastating to him. And Jesus knew it would be. So in addition to warning them that this could happen, verse 35 says Jesus also went looking for him. Why? Because He heard they had kicked him out and knew he would be devastated. Which leads us to point number one this week. Jesus always hears. Why should we worship Him? One reason that leaps from the pages of our passage today is because Jesus always hears!!! What does verse 35 say? Jesus heard!
This is significant because of what verse 31 says. Let’s back up and read that. In response to the healing of the blind man, the Pharisees say, “31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.”
Do you see the disconnect? The Pharisees believed that God does not hear the prayers of sinners. And they even quoted Scripture to make their point. For example, Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV) says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that He will not hear.”And Psalm 66:18 (NKJV) says something similar. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” So let’s not be too hard on them for their bad theology. They had good reasons for their bad theology. And it’s true, in a sovereign sense, that if you’re a sinner who loves sinning, that the Lord will not hear. But I think that’s only because sometimes sinners quit asking!!! Not because the Lord stops listening.
Think about it: If you’re a sinner who loves sinning, how likely is it that you’re going to ask and keep asking God to help you stop? Not very likely is it! The Scripture the Pharisees could quote are talking about circumstances where those involved care more about pleasing themselves than God. Those Scriptures talking about God not listening are misunderstood not because God’s not listening but because we quit asking. He can’t hear something we never ask.
We know this is true not only because verse 35 straight out says Jesus heard the blindman, but also because Jesus says the same thing to his disciples in Luke 18:13. Let’s go there real quick. In that passage, Jesus is telling a parable, another story about THE story, illustrating how He always hears the cries of the sinful and broken hearted. Verse 13 of Luke 18 begins this way. “9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
So the only way God doesn’t hear you is if you quit asking. Psalm 66:18 says it this way: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Why? Because if you cherish sin more than the Savior, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to ask him to! But all who ask will never be driven away. Isn’t that what Jesus said in John 6:37? But it gets even better than that. Because even when we’re not asking, other people are!!!
Have you guys ever seen this show called Intervention? It’s on A&E or Discovery Channel or something like that. I caught an episode of this show once and couldn’t believe how brave are the people on it. Not just the person with the obvious addiction problem willing to go on TV about it, but his friends and family that on the show lovingly confront him with it. Describing how his addiction is hurting them. How it is preventing them from a more meaningful relationship with him. And why that relationship with him is what they miss most. Sometimes, the addict goes postal first and wants nothing to do with them. Because, truth in love, we live in a broken world. And every story we write won’t have a Disney ending. I admire that about this show. But God’s story does. And love that about His story.
So when we intercede for addicts and the people we love who don’t know God or even if they do, don’t love Him back, guess what! God even hears those requests. He will even listen to the people who don’t love Him back when other people intercede on their behalf.
We know this is true because Genesis 18:23-32 describes how Abraham courageously intercedes for those in Sodom bargaining with God who eventually agrees not to destroy the city if there are even 10 people there that are righteous because they love God. But apparently, even with Lot and his family, there weren’t 10 people there that loved God because that city was destroyed. Let’s be clear: Destroying Sodom was not God’s will. He wanted to save the entire wicked place for the sake of 10 righteous people. But couldn’t find 10 in the whole place. I love that about God. He is so patient with us.
Luke 15 tells us that three different ways. Namely, that if just one person needed a Savior, He would have died on the cross. If it were just you and you alone, He would’ve died for you. But that’s not the coolest part of Luke 15. The best part of Luke 15 is that if that one person was like a coin and didn’t even know it needed to be saved, since coins don’t have brains, if that one person didn’t even know he needed to be saved like the coin or better yet didn’t even want to be saved like the prodigal son who chose to get lost, even then, even in that situation, if the world only had one miserable grumpy addict in it, even then Jesus would have willingly laid down his life for him. Or her.
The story goes like this. We may abandon Him. But He never abandons us. That’s why every day we have a choice to make. At the beginning of every day of our life, we can choose to abandon God. Or abandon ourselves to God. If you choose to abandon God. He’ll still wait for you. He’ll still leave the light on for you. He will always be ready to listen to you. But real world, because sin is so dangerous, you may not want to listen to Him later. And time will eventually run out.
There are 3 things that separate Christianity from every other world religion. The first is grace. The second is that our God always hears when anyone prays. And the third is one day death itself will die and evil will end. 1 Corinthians 15:22-24 says “22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come.” Verse 26 adds, “26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Friends, Jesus is coming again. And when He does, just like it was in Noah’s day, death itself will die, evil will end, love will win, and time will be no more. That’s why the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “NOW is the day of salvation.” If you hear his voice, hearden not your heart. Aren’t you glad until then, that Jesus always hears? Point number one.
Moving on, verses 35-38 says, “35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." 37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." 38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.”
Remember this guy has been blind since birth. He’s never actually seen Jesus. Before the Pharisees, he had seen his troubled and perplexed parents basically disown him. He had seen the religious leaders of his church frowning and questioning and insulting him. And verse 8 says he had seen his neighbors doubt him and question his story. And into all this judgment and condemnation steps Jesus pursuing just one man born blind at birth who didn’t even know who Jesus was! Who had never seen His face! Unlike the blind man Jesus healed in Mark 8 who opened his eyes and saw Jesus immediately, even if it was a little fuzzy at first, our blind man in John 9 has to go to the pool of Siloam to wash the mud off his eyes. So he’s never actually seen Jesus’ kind, loving, and peaceful eyes resting upon his. But when he does, he falls at his feet in worship. Why? Because worship, friends, is the normal response of someone who understands that God first loved them. Which is point number two. We worship because God first loved us.
1 John 4:15-17 says it this way. “15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us [because] God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. Verse 19 adds, “19We love because he first loved us.”
Why should we worship? Point number one. Because Jesus always hears us. And point number two. Because He first loved us. And point number thee, because our guilt is gone. Look at verses 39-41. “39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." 40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" 41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
Jesus said it this way in John 5:24. “24I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Another English word for condemned in Greek is judged. It’s what Paul means in Romans 8:1 when the same root of the word shows up there. It reads, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation or krisis in Greek for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But for those who reject Jesus there is a krima in Greek. Which is the word for judgment used to describe the result of judging.
In other words, there is no contradiction between John 9:39 and John 3:17 because the result of Jesus saving those who believe in the world is that men pronounced judgement on themselves when they reject the light of the world. This is what Jesus meant in John 3:19 when He told Nicodemus, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved [or cherished as Psalm 66:18 says] darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
John 3:17 says He came to save the world not judge the world. And Luke 19:10 says Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. And both of those things are true. But the result of those things being true is if you reject them, you bring judgment on yourself. Which is exactly what the Pharisees were doing. Who asked, “What? Are we blind too?” To which Jesus basically replies, Yes.
But we are blind too, if as a church, we don’t help people understand why we worship. And judging from the data, we have a lot of work to do. We know this is true because when the Barna Group surveys random Americans, only one third of the people know Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Fewer than half can name the first book of the Bible. And 80% of born again Christians believe the phrase God helps those who help themselves is in the Bible. Which it’s not. That bad theology came from Ben Franklin. The ignorance of the story or at least this ignorance of the significance of the story is apparent in the following cartoon Steve sent me this week. Take a look.
We need to remember that every worship service is like opening night of a 52 week evangelistic presentation. Why? Because there are many people inside and outside these walls that don’t see the significance of worshiping Jesus yet!!! They may have heard the everlasting Gospel. But like that blind man, they’ve never seen it. So we have to show and tell them why we worship. And if our story is anything like the blind man’s, what we’ll say is we worship because Jesus always hears. Point number one. Because He first loved us. Point number two. And because our guilt is gone. Point number three.