LITTLETOE’S Disassociation Public Talk
Littletoe was an elder that disassociated himself whilst delivering a public talk on mercy. Click on the podcast icon for a recording of his talk, or read the transcript below. Towards the second half he describes his born again experience and in the third last paragraph he announces he is disassociating himself. The tone of the talk is very moving.
H. G. Wells wrote a short story entitled "Country of the Blind." I had the privilege of reading that story. It was a very interesting one. It's the story of an adventurer who had been walking through the mountains one day along with a shepherd, and they had fallen in the snow down into a valley from which there seemed no escape. Now, this valley had been settled many generations before by various families which had become blind over a period of time so that every member of that community within that valley was indeed completely blind. So you can imagine for someone who was sighted finding themselves in that predicament, there would be quite a difference between himself and those around about him. It would be very difficult indeed. You can imagine it was even more difficult when he fell in love with one of the young ladies in the valley. And it was while in the valley that this man, who seemed to have this difference about him, the fact that he claims to see things, and they didn't even understand the concept by now, would want to marry one of their own. But he had an answer for it. The answer was, well, these things that he calls eyes on the front of his face, we'll put them out and he'll be blind like us and then everything will be sorted. That's the merciful thing to do is put his eyes out. It will only be a short pain and then he'll be fine. Well, is that the merciful thing to do? I won't spoil the story for you in case you happen to read it at sometime because it really is an interesting short story, but the story obviously continues on and we find out in the story what he does do. We'll leave that for now.
Now, when we think about that form of mercy, do you really think for the sighted person that that really was the merciful action, the merciful course of action for these people to do? I think we would have to agree we'd find great difficultly in seeing that. When we think about the quality of mercy as demonstrated in the Bible, it's something that -- it isn't something intangible. It's something that very much is demonstrated in various areas. You think of the way that God's qualities are balanced. Certainly mercy is something that God certainly possess. It balances off in love what is justice would sometimes require. So mercy is a very important quality right from our Heavenly Father down to ourselves.
It is expected that we would demonstrate mercy. In fact, that it would be a dominant quality if indeed we would claim to be Christians. It is interesting that Hosea 6:6 highlighted that God desired mercy and not sacrifice. In fact, Jesus himself quoted that passage on a couple of occasions, Matthew 9:13, Matthew 12:7. "I desire mercy and not sacrifice. "Notice how important it was to Jesus Christ. Notice how important it was to our Father. A dominant quality you would think if indeed we are to follow in his footsteps in being a Christian, having a Christian walk of life.
What I'd like to take up with you this morning is a passage from John, chapter 9, where we've got a prime example here of both sides of the coin. An example of mercy being demonstrated, but also those who have been merciless. Let's see if we can get some benefit out of this as we consider John, chapter 9. Now, it's quite a lengthy portion, but I feel we'll be benefited by reading the whole chapter and then just reflecting on some of the various verses throughout John to see how we might be benefitted, see this quality of mercy, how it should be demonstrated and the importance of it. There in John, chapter 9, in the first verse it states,
"Now, as he was passing along he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned? This man or his parents so that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be made manifest in his case. We must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day. The night is coming when no man can work. As long as I'm in the world, I am the world's light. ' "After he said these things he spat on the ground and made a clay with a saliva and put this clay upon the man's eyes and said to him, 'Go wash in the pool of Siloam,' which is translated, send forth. And he went off and washed and came back seeing. Therefore, the neighbors and those who formerly used to see that he was a beggar began to say, 'This is the man who used to sit and beg, is it not?' Some would say,' This is he. 'Others would say, 'Not at all, but he is like him,' but the man would say, 'I am he. ' "Consequently they began to say to him, 'How then were your eyes opened?' He answered, 'The man called Jesus made a clay and smeared it on my eyes and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash. 'Therefore I went and I washed and gained sight. 'At this they said to him, 'Where is that man?' He said, 'I do not know. '"They led the once blind man himself to the Pharisees. Incidentally, it was the Sabbath on the day that Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. This time, therefore, the Pharisees also took up asking him how he gained sight. He said to them, 'It was the clay upon my eyes, and I washed and I have sight. 'Therefore, some of the Pharisees began to say, 'This is not a man from God because he doesn't observe the Sabbath. 'Others began to say, 'How can a man that is a sinner perform signs of that sort?' There was a division among them. "Hence they said to the blind man again, 'What do you say about him seeing that he opened your eyes?' The man said, 'He is a prophet. 'However, the Jews did not believe concerning him that he had been blind and had gained sight, and so they called the parents of the man who gained sight and they asked them, 'Is this your son who you say was born blind? How then is it that he sees at present?' "In answer his parents said, 'We know that this is our son and that he was born blind, but how it is he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him. He's of age. He'll speak for himself. '"His parents said these things because they were in fear of the Jews, for the Jews had already come to an agreement that if anyone confessed him as Christ, he should get expelled from the synagogue. That is why the parents said, 'He's of age. Question him. '"Therefore a second time they called the man that had been blind and said to him, 'Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner. 'In turn he answered, 'Whether he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know that where I was blind, I see at present. ' "Therefore they said to him, 'What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?' He answered them, 'I told you already and yet you do not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become his disciples also, do you?' "At this they reviled him and said, 'You are a disciple of that man, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he is from. 'In answer the man said to them, 'This certainly is a marvel that you do not know where he is from and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does his will, he listens to that one. From of old it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of one born blind. If this man were not from God he could do nothing at all. 'In answer they said to him, 'You were all together born in sin and yet are you teaching us?'and they threw him out. "Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and on finding him he said, 'Will you put faith in the Son of Man?'The man answered, 'Who is he, sir, that I may put faith in him?'Jesus said to him, 'You have seen him. And besides, he that is speaking with you is that one. 'And he said, 'I do put faith in him, Lord,' and he did obeisance to him. And Jesus said, 'For this judgment I came into this world that those not seeing might see, and those seeing might become blind. ' "The Pharisees who were with him heard these things. And they said to him, 'We are not blind also, are we?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind you would have no sin, but now you say we see, your sin will remain. '"
Now, if you reflect on some of the verses that were considered there, starting from verse three, for example, what was actually taking place there? For what purpose was this man born blind would it appear? Well, Jesus answered this whole situation really as it was now presenting itself was to make the works of God manifest in his case. It wasn't due to specific sin that this man was blind, although obviously he was born a sinner as each and every one of us are, but certainly in this particular case God's works would be marvelled at. They would be made manifest in this particular case.
Interestingly Jesus then follows up in verses 5 through to 7 and highlights particularly verse 5 there in regards to him being the world's light. In fact, Jesus Christ himself was able to bring light to the world. He was able to, according to the later verse there, open up people's eyes, make them seeing, take away our blindness from them, specifically in a spiritual sense. And certainly this whole occasion here was one where that would be exactly what would take place. It wasn't just literal sight this man was receiving, but it was also in a spiritual way, being able to receive light, receive sight.
You see that Jesus was merciful in healing that blind man as we see it in those particular verses but also it was actually on the Sabbath. We know the Jews felt it was inappropriate to heal people on the Sabbath. And time and time again Jesus fought with them over exactly the same thing, didn't he. There was a law. There was an application of the law the way the Jews were applying the Sabbath Day law and the Sabbath Day observance there, and yet Jesus showed it was a superlative way, one of love, one of mercy. Again, we could highlight mercy is a dominant quality for true Christians today but they appreciate that fine quality. It goes far beyond the sacrifice of following a law to the very letter, so this important step is highlighted.
You see how moving on to verse 15 there was quite a contrast now as we continue reading in the view of the Pharisees. There in verse 15 all the way through to 34 we have this debate taking place; in fact, raging between the man who was once blind and the Pharisees. In fact, they even bring his parents in and they start having a go at them. They start debating with them and they're in fear for their very lives almost as it were. They were certainly in fear of being thrown out of the synagogue and having the ostracism of the community at that time because of the way that they would have to answer. They deferred it. They said, "Well, he's of age. Ask him. Leave us alone. We don't want any part of it. Yes, he's our son. Yes, he was born blind. Yes, he can see, but we certainly don't want to have any more to do with it than that. That's our witness. Please, you ask him. He'll answer. He's of age to answer. "So the poor young man who had been born blind literally was facing the Pharisees alone. How did he do? Well, we would have to agree that he fared pretty well with regard to the debate that took place. I think he handled himself very well indeed, don't you? In the way he counselled the Pharisees there he certainly seemed a lively soul.
It would have been nice to have met him and spoken with him for sure. But the Pharisees hated what he was bringing to their attention. The fact that he turned and said, "Well, how can this man be a sinner when God listens to him and allows him to do these kinds of things, they couldn't accept that. They couldn't accept mercy on the Sabbath in the first place, and now they certainly couldn't accept that Jesus was indeed who he claimed to be. It was very difficult for these ones to try and appreciate that. In fact, many, in fact, didn't appreciate that fact. So we see in verse 34 there, right at the very end of the verse, they threw him out, cast him out of the synagogue and would have nothing to do with him.
Let's us take up verse 35 again. Just as at the start we saw Jesus had love for this particular man but it's demonstrated again. In verse 35 we see that Jesus has heard that they've thrown him out. He actually went to find this young man. When he found him he asked him, "Are you putting faith in the Son of Man?" The result? Yes, indeed, he was. We see there in verse 38. Then he said, "I will put faith in him, Lord," and he did obeisance to him. He didn't back it up with words. He backed it up with action as well. He actually did obeisance to him. Some other translations, in fact, the American Standard Version, the International Standard Version and the King James, just to name a few, actually put it that he worshipped him. He fell on the floor upon his face before him actually there, backing up the fact that he did, in fact, put faith in Jesus Christ at that time as being the Son of Man. He appreciated that. He had appreciation for this one that was before him.
Then we find in verses 35 through 41 we see that it's highlighted that he was blind or was he sinful? If he was blind, in verse 41 it was highlighted if you can't see something, can't see the sin, that the law may seem manifested enough, then we're not all together in the sin if we don't know what's wrong in the first place. But if we say we can see, we say we're not blind, then our sin remains if we continue to act on a particular course of action.
It's quite a poignant thought there, isn't it? The Pharisees claimed they could see. They claimed they could see what the law had to say about things. They claimed they understood it. In fact, they were teachers of the law, and yet we see that their sin remained because they wouldn't even move one little finger to actually budge the law, to actually help one, to act mercifully, to act in love, to act in a Christian way as Christ was now demonstrating. They couldn't see that at all. Do you see? Do you see the importance of this quality in our lives? Certainly it's mentioned that God's qualities are -- particularly his justice, for example, is something that is tempered and balanced with his love. He is certainly able to demonstrate mercy. He certainly is firm where necessary, but on the flip-side he's merciful where possible. How do we act in that respect? Do we find ourselves naturally acting mercifully? To a degree that's rarely the case. But we need to act mercifully. That should be a dominant quality of true Christians so we want to try and put that into practice.
Certainly I personally have had a personal experience of God's mercy, a sinful man as it were, a little over six months ago. My relationship with my Heavenly Father was greatly heightened at that time. I always felt that I had a relationship with my Heavenly Father, but at that time it was truly increased beyond measure. I couldn't believe how much so. I suddenly also had a realization of the importance of Jesus Christ in the role of things. Perhaps you'll recall that we had a public talk six weeks ago where I brought out that same thought from John 17:3, the fact that it isn't just having knowledge or accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ and Jehovah God. It's actually knowing them. Having a relationship with them. That's an important aspect of our Christianity.
Certainly that was something that I came to know that I felt previously there was something lacking. Having that relationship there was truly important. In fact, the way the Apostle Thomas put it was the way I felt right from the inside, "My Lord and my God. "That was the way he responded, didn't he? So too I felt I could appreciate what he meant by that. There were other things that came very clear to me as well. God's word the Bible became something that I thirsted for, something that was unquenchable. Do you know the feeling where literally you can't put it down? Where you feel quite literally it's a letter from our Heavenly Father to us so that we can actually benefit from it. It feels like He's writing directly to us. Roman's 8:15 and 16 was a verse that came very much to my attention. "The spirit cries out with your spirit, Abba, Father. "Do you see where I'm coming from? Do you see what I'm talking about with regards to now my relationship as I felt to my Heavenly Father, because without a doubt I felt that from that point forward I could clearly lay claim without any doubt of being a spirit-anointed Christian.
Now, some might find that a little bit incredible. I know I certainly did. And it certainly has put my mind into overdrive with regards to how I should act and how I should feel. Certainly when we think about the role that Jesus had in our lives I certainly felt that up to that point I'd almost put a man-made yoke on my shoulders with the way that I acted. Yet we think about the way Jesus highlighted in Matthew 28. In those verses there he highlighted, "Come to me, those who are loaded down, and put on my yoke because it's kindly, it's light, it's bearable. "It certainly is indeed a very light yoke indeed. Not one without its own problems but one that is bearable and that we can appreciate it. Certainly another scripture that came to my attention very clearly was John 14:6. Perhaps you'd like to turn there very briefly with me.
John 14:6. What did Jesus here say to Thomas? Jesus said to him in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. " Jesus Christ is quite literally the only way to arrive at the Father. I felt that my whole life I'd been putting the cart before the horse. I always tried to get straight to the Father and ignoring Jesus Christ in the process. He certainly is the only way we can get to the Father. He too is the truth and the life. The life that he has to give us, everlasting life, is something we can get from no other source. And as for the truth -- well, certainly the truth of the matter is Jesus Christ is the truth. There is nobody else through whom we can go for that life, for that life, for that way to the Father.
That's something that was ably demonstrated to me, not just from that one scripture but many others as well. Christ Jesus clearly is our mediator between ourselves, as sinful imperfect humans, and Jehovah God. Now, there are a variety of other beliefs that we find that are in contrast to that which I've found increasingly hard to conscientiously preach and teach from the platform. And as the case right now because whilst I can clearly say that I love each and every one of you unconditionally, and my door is always open to each and every one of you, and that's a fact, as soon as I step down off this platform I'm also going to step down as an elder of the Stoneway Congregation of Jehovah's witnesses, as a minister of Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm also disassociating myself from the organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses, from the International Bible Students Association and the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Great Britain, Pennsylvania, and anywhere else you'd like to say in the world.
I love you-all individually, but collectively this has to be good-bye. I'm very sorry, but it's a fact. Christ quite literally has been great to gain in this matter because I find that amongst many other things what God's word has to say to me now is far different from what I was brought up with, what I was taught from infancy, and has far, far deeper meaning. Christ is the only way. Not a man-made organization to be a mediator between us and the Father. So that's all I have to say on that.
As for the children especially I'll say, I love you very much as well, as indeed everyone else. Christ Jesus would probably take you on his lap and lay his hands on you and pray for you. Well, I can't do that, but I'll as soon give you God's blessing and hope that he will indeed take care of you and look after you because I love each and every one of you as a little brother and sister. And each and every member of the congregation for that matter has been very fine for me in many ways and I appreciate you all. That's all I have to say.