Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 What Do You Really Need for Christmas?
John 3:16-18

Text: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

There is a poem by an unknown author that I would like to read to you.  It goes like this:

If the world had needed an educator,
God in His mercy would have sent us a Great Teacher.
If the world had needed a financial manager,
God in His mercy would have sent us a Great Economist.
If the world had needed more entertainment,
God in His mercy would have sent us a Great Actor.
If the world had needed a revolution,
God in His mercy would have sent us a great Leader.
But what the world really needed was a Savior,
So God in His mercy sent us Jesus!

This is the thought that I would like for you to mull over this morning: I believe a look at this poem when read in the light of scripture will show us the gift each of us need to give and receive this Christmas season.

Many claim that education is what we need the most; but “If the world had needed an educator, God in His mercy would have sent us a Great Teacher.” 

Education is wonderful, however the fact is that education fails to meet the deepest needs of individuals and society. Some scientists report that information that is available to the public used to double every 30-50 years, however, since the internet was created and become so commonplace, it now doubles every 2-3 years. 

Consider this:
• The books in all the libraries of the world.
• Out of print books.
• The magazines past and present.
• The multitude of term papers written by students.
• Web-pages.
• TV.
• Radio.
• And there many are other forms of dispensing information.

It used to take 30-50 years for publicly accessible information to double; now all of the information stuff in the world doubles every 2-3 years.  Leading educators say we are in the midst of an information onslaught.  Not only is information booming; so is education!  More people are educated around the world today than have ever been educated in history; yet the moral and physical condition of our world is declining. 

If education is the answer to all our problems, why does America have the highest crime rate in the world?  If education is the answer, why do some of the world’s most educated people struggle with substance abuse?  If education is the answer, why are so many educated people still depressed and unfulfilled?  A good education is truly important, but the greatest need for individuals and society is not a good education or a great teacher-OUR GREATEST NEED IS A SAVIOR. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all in favor of education and Jesus was too. 

I know that Jesus was educated, because Luke wrote, “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.  And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.  So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”  And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 6:42-49)  This is the account of when Jesus was twelve; He was already teaching the teachers.  He was able to understand, question and teach those who were much older than He was. 

I am confident that Jesus received a good education as he grew, because it was common for Jewish boys to go to school and be educated.  As Jesus grew He got even wiser.  That’s the thought behind Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  There is no doubt that Jesus was an educated man; He was educated by human teachers and the Holy Spirit. Jesus was even a teacher Himself.  Throughout the New Testament Jesus is addressed by His followers as Teacher or Rabbi. 

He also identifies Himself as a teacher.  Listen to what He said in John 14:23-24, “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” 

It’s clear from scripture that Jesus definitely was the great Teacher; however, it’s also clear that the focus of Jesus’ ministry was not to teach-BUT TO SAVE.

Many claim that more wealth is what we need the most; but “If the world had needed a financial manager, God in His mercy would have sent us a Great Economist.” 

Money is important, but it fails to meet the deepest need of individuals and society.  I know people who think money is the most important thing in life and they will do anything to get it.  If they get enough of it they feel they will be happy.

What about those who have reached a high level of wealth?  What do they have to say about this issue? Residents of Saddle Back California are some of the best-paid professionals in the country, but statistics show that their level of debt is higher than their income.  Even with the enormous income that many of them make they still do not feel that they have enough. Those who earn wages in the top 2% of the country when polled say they do not consider themselves wealthy enough. Wealth will not bring contentment in this life, and even if someone is content with their wealth they will still die.  When the great J. D. Rockefeller died a reporter asked his chief lawyer, “How much did he take with him?”  The lawyer replied in a mellow tone, “Not a penny.”

What if we were to try to equally distribute the wealth, wouldn’t that solve some of societies problems?  It didn’t help the USSR.  It has not helped in our cities.  Many inner-city public housing projects are often used as drug houses with their insides gutted out. 

It has not helped on the Indian Reservations where casinos were placed supposedly “to provide jobs and wealth.”  But they have only caused more poverty and abuse.

Money is important; we need it to live; but it’s not what we need the most.  The greatest need for individuals and society is not financial management or a good economist-OUR GREATEST NEED IS FOR A SAVIOR.

Now, let me see if I can show that Jesus was a Great Economist. 

It is interesting that there are few subjects that the Bible discusses more than money.  Jesus knew the place to put His money for the best returns.  He shared this great principle with us, so we would know how to manage our money.  He said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.   For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

There was a greedy man with great wealth who was determined to take his money with him when he died.  He gave strict orders that when he died all of his stocks and assets were to be liquidated and all his life’s earnings were to be placed in the coffin and buried with him.  When he finally did die many people came to the graveside service.  They were surprised to see the man’s casket closed and lowered into the grave, but apparently empty.  After the service a family member approached the man’s lawyer who had been entrusted with the man’s will and he asked, “What happened to all the money that was supposed to be buried with him?”  The lawyer smirked and replied, “Don’t worry about that; I wrote him a check.” 

And that’s the way it goes with earthly wealth; in time it will be lost, even with the best planning.  There is only one safe investment and we can start and maintain it in a Heavenly account.  Jesus knew this principle well.  He was the best Economist of all times, because He lived His life fully in God’s will.  He was willing to use all His wealth and even His life itself to redeem us.  Why did He do it?  Because He had the same mind and heart as the Father.  It is clear from scripture that Jesus was definitely the Great Economist; however, it is also clear that the focus of Jesus ministry was not money-IT WAS SALVATION.

Many claim that entertainment is what we need the most; but “If the world had needed more entertainment, God in His mercy would have sent us a Great Actor.”

But entertainment fails to meet the deepest needs of individuals and society.  If there has ever been an age of entertainment it is this one.  The number one export of America around the world is entertainment.  It is interesting that after only a few days of grieving and repenting in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy; it was back to entertainment as usual.  The common cry among entertainers was-“We need something to take our mind off the pain; we cannot grieve forever.” In all the talk that I heard the day after the tragedy there was also the complaint by some that their regular TV shows had been interrupted the day of the tragedy.  The comment by one woman was that it was too painful for her and she wanted to go on as if nothing had happened.

The deepest need of individuals and society is not good entertainment to take us into a fantasy world that causes us to forget our pain-OUR GREATEST NEED IS FOR A SAVIOR.

Jesus was no actor, but He was entertaining to many.  It says in Luke 23:8-11, “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.  Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.” 

Miracle means “a sign.”  The use of the word sign in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) occurs in various situations where people asked Jesus to perform or to give a sign of His authority.  Jesus always refused such requests.  And on the occasion of His meeting with Herod, He had no intention of entertaining him.  But Herod treated Jesus as if He were just an actor or magician who performs weak tricks to deceive commoners.  Herod’s motives became clear in verse 11, “Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.”  Jesus was dressed in a robe like a fake king to symbolize that He was a fake; just an actor. 

It is clear from scripture that the miracles of Jesus were definitely entertaining; however, it is also clear that the focus of Jesus’ ministry was not to entertain- BUT TO BRING SALVATION.

Many claim that a revolution is what the world needs the most, but “If the world had needed a revolution, God in His mercy would have sent us a Great Leader.”

Revolutions fail to meet the deepest needs of individuals and society.  There have been many revolutions great and small that have rocked the world; still the world suffers.  There have been many good leaders; yet the world is lost. Jesus was a Great Leader and He caused a revolution.  It says of Him in John 16:14-15, “Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” 

Jesus was a great ruler and worthy King.  The revolution that Jesus caused is still going on.  It has toppled governments, brought down rulers and many have died for a cause worthy to die for.  Jesus is a revolutionary; however, it is clear from scripture that Jesus did not come to cause a revolt in the land of Israel. 

The focus of Jesus’ ministry was not to revolt against an earthly kingdom that would fall-BUT TO BRING SALVATION!

What the world really needed was a Savior, so God in His infinite mercy sent us Jesus.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.   “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

• Education
• Money
• Entertainment
• Leadership

All are prominent aspects of American life, but all fail to answer the true human need. Only a Savior can save us from our broken lives and hopeless futures.  Only a Savior can bring fulfillment to our lives.  The best place to look this year for the most ideal gift is not under the Christmas tree, but under the tree of Calvary where ribbons of Jesus’ blood flowed to wrap each of us in the warmth of His love. Paul spoke of that great gift when he said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)  Then he wrote, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

I received my gift in November, 1951.  I was nine years old and I was in a small church in Kansas City, Kansas called the Rosedale Tabernacle.  I listened to the sermon and there was nothing special about it that I can recall, but when the invitation was given I experienced the call of God to salvation.  I had to move to the aisle and walk to the front of the church.  Tears were running down my cheeks.  I knelt at an alter, I asked God to forgive my sins and I asked Jesus to save me.  I was too young to have been a great sinner and there was not a great deal change in my life after I was saved.  But from that moment I was a child of God.  I have had the great privilege of telling others about Jesus and I have been there when they received their Gift from God. 

I pray every day for each of you, even though I believe that most of you are saved.  Like Paul, I wish that all of you were just as I am.  I would never embarrass any of you, but it would be my great joy to pray with you and give you the scriptures that show how you can know without any doubt that you are saved and are going to spend eternity with Jesus.  Just let me know and I will drop everything to be with you. 

Let’s pray now and thank Him for his wonderful gift.

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