Summary: A Christmas sermon making a distinction between our wants and our needs using men of the Bible as examples.
What do you want for Christmas? Is it something you want, or is it something you need?
As many parents try to teach their children, we don’t get everything we want, but we usually get what we need. Many times they are not the same.
Today I want us to look at 4 men in the Bible who met the Christ of Christmas and as a result they found, not what they wanted, but what they needed, and their lives were changed dramatically.
When Jesus lived here on earth, he saw a man who had been crippled for many years. The Bible tells us in John 5 that he wanted to be healed. He had been crippled for 38 years and for a long time, maybe the entire time, he had spent his days and nights lying on a hard cold floor surrounding a public bathing pool, known as the Pool of Bethesda.
There were 5 porches surrounding this pool and many crippled people stayed there because the Jews in that area believed that every now and then an angel would step into the water, and when the waters were troubled and began moving, then the first person to step into the pool would be healed.
The cripple of Bethesda wanted to be healed.
Or so he thought.
But did he?
That’s what Jesus asked him.
John 5:6 Jesus said to him, “Do you REALLY want to get well?”
Being well, and in good health, requires a lot of responsibility. When you are well, people expect you to work and earn a living. To become an active and responsible citizen of the community. To help others.
Jesus knew this, and so he asked the very piercing question, Do you really want to get well? And then he told him it was time for him to assume responsibility for himself, to get up, pick up his bed, and walk.
And because Jesus came as a Babe in a manger, this man received so much more than just physical healing. He received a special touch of the Master with power to witness for Him, even in the face of strong opposition.
It’s alright to pray for healing. That is a legitimate “want”, But the Christ of Christmas gives us more than that. The ability to witness. The ability to become a whole person. To be all we can be. To accept responsibility for our actions. To become a productive member of society.
The second man who got his wants and his needs mixed up was a little short guy we will call Zach. Actually, his real name was Zacchaeus.
The Bible says he was a tax collector, and tax collectors in those days were even worse than our modern day IRS agents. They were Jews who worked for the Romans. That in itself was bad enough, but to collect taxes from his fellow Jews for the Roman treasury was even worse.
So it took quite an incentive for a Jew to become a tax collector. The Romans knew that, so they had quite an incentive. They allowed the Jewish tax collector to take as much money as he could from every Jewish citizen and after he paid the Roman IRS what they required, he could keep the rest.
So Zacchaues had many wants. And he was busy making money to buy them. He probably lived in the biggest house in town. He probably had a new Suburban, and a new Hummer, and a new Cadillac parked in his 3 car garage, with a boat on one side of the driveway, and a large RV on the other.
He wanted a lot of things for Christmas. A new digital camera, and a DVD, and a plasma wall mounted TV with the biggest screen you could buy.
He was so busy fleecing his Jewish brothers and making money hand over heel that he really hadn’t had time to think about what he needed.
Until Jesus came to town. Jericho, that is. (Luke 19)
The Bible doesn’t tell us why Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus……how he found out about him, how much he knew about him. We don’t know that. The Bible just said he wanted to see Jesus, but he was short, and the crowd was big, and he wanted to see him so badly that he climbed up into a tree to see over the head of the crowd.
The same scripture which tells us that Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, and very rich, tells us that he was so desperate that he did a most undignified thing, he climbed a tree.
Zacchaeus had a “need” he hadn’t known about until then, and he didn’t even know what to call it, but when Jesus called him down from the tree and told him he was going home to eat with him that day, all Zack could think about was his sin of stealing from his people, and getting rich at their expense, and all of a sudden he was so sickened and ashamed of his lifestyle that he begged Jesus to allow him to get rid of his guilt by giving back everything he had wrongfully taken and even 4 times so.