You are All that I Need.
3rd Sunday in Advent
Grace Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
My poor mother had to put up with me, as a little boy, constantly bringing home things I found during my adventures outside. I would bring home frogs, captured moths in jars and, my favorite, garter snakes.
These treasures would never be allowed in the house, and when I did sneak them in, they would mysteriously disappear the next day while I was at school. So, it was no surprise to me when one Christmas I asked for a pet snake and was told it wasn’t going to happen.
Just like children, we all want something in particular and are disappointed when we don’t get it. We get the things that we need, and are not fully satisfied. I can imagine that some of you may experience this type of scenario in 9 or 10 days. You or your children will be opening presents with hopes of receiving that new toy, game or book. Some of you may be disappointed with socks, sweaters or bunny slippers.
I can remember how often I received new clothes for Christmas. These would be new school clothes, or new church clothes. My mother would be so happy, “Oh! This is so nice! You needed a new pair of pants. And this sweater will be nice to wear on Sundays.” She would act like the gifts were a surprise to her when she was the person who bought them in the first place! Meanwhile, I’m grumbling because I didn’t get a pocket knife or Legos.
No, we don’t always get what we want, and sometimes we get what we need. I wonder if we look to our heavenly Father for what we want and are disgruntled with being provided with what we need. I wonder if we actually realize that we are given everything we need. I wonder if we ask for more, more, more when we have more than enough.
“While ‘more is better’ may be the way many people live their lives, especially during this time of the year, our text this morning gives us an alternative. John the Baptist lived with the belief that “[Jesus] must become greater, I must become less” (Jn 3:30). And this heart, this attitude of John, ran counter to his culture. It was peculiar. It was strange and very different. And yet this heart, this attitude, is exactly the attitude Christ wants to form in you and me. But living a life where “less is more”—a life with the sole purpose of lifting up Jesus—is not easy. There are struggles and trials. The Christian attitude that “less is more” is different because it runs across the grain. It is counter-cultural and misunderstood and even rejected by those in the world. Our text teaches a valuable lesson: a life “where less is more” is a life that is truly blessed.’
In our Gospel reading today, we find priests and Levites from Jerusalem seeking out John the Baptist. They have come to ask him if he is the Messiah.
"Who are you?" He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" [John 1:19b-21]
The priests and Levites wanted to know if John was the Christ prophesized in scriptures. They wanted the Messiah to come and rule over them. They wanted the Christ to overthrow their oppressors and become their king on earth. They wanted the Messiah to come to them and say, “You have done well by following the law My Father has given you. You will be rewarded for your righteousness.”
But they didn’t get what they wanted. They didn’t even get a good answer from John that would be an acceptable to their bosses. Nobody wanted to give the bad news. Nobody wanted to tell his superiors that John is not the Messiah, that John was not even a Prophet. This news is not what they wanted to hear. They came to find their savior and only got John in a camel hair sweater.
Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is our Savior. He is what all people need. Without Him, we are lost. Without His death and resurrection, we would die forever. Jesus Christ is what we need. To some He is unwanted, but that does not make Him unneeded. As we mature into adulthood, we are able to understand the difference between wants and needs.
Ask any person in the hospital if they want to be there. They don’t want to be away from their family and loved ones. They don’t want to be away from the warmth and comfort of their homes. They definitely don’t want the pain that comes with surgery or sickness and healing. But all of them know that they need to be healed in order to regain a productive life; and a higher quality of living.
As Christians, we also journey in our faith from childlike acceptance to a mature faith and trust in God. Our faith is not directly connected to our physical age. Those who are new to the faith require the loving guiding and nurturing help of those with more experience and wisdom no matter how old they may be.
We may not want to give up the things of this world that bring us comfort. We may not want to be in church to worship in the body Christ. We may not want the pain of confronting and confessing our sins before God; but we all know that we need to be healed in order to gain the promise of eternal life with our Lord. We all know that we need the saving grace of Jesus Christ to live a sanctified and God pleasing existence.
The world will constantly tell you what you need. The world will even tell you what you want. The problem is, that these things are false treasures that neither help you nor secure your eternal salvation, and very rarely, do they even make a person happy.
I know it is hard to give up things that we want. I know that it may not always feel good to accept the things that we need. It’s easy to sit and watch T.V. It takes effort to read and study God’s word. But what do you want and what do you need? It’s easy to sleep in on Sunday morning, it takes effort to come to worship. But what do you want and what do you need? It’s easy to curse, it takes effort to praise the name of the Lord. But what do you want and what do you need?
Most of us are at the age of understanding. Most of us are capable of discerning what is best for ourselves and our loved ones. Those who have children know what their children need in order to be raised in the faith of our Lord. Take a look at yourself. Are you seeking that which you want or that which you need? Are you providing for your family that which they want or that which they need?
Do not be blinded by your own wants and desires. When we follow after these things and do not follow God, we set them up as idols against God. God knows what we need and He wants us to have it. God desires us to be his people. He wants it so much that He gave His only Son to die for us, so that anyone who believes in Him shall be saved.
We need the communion of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need the one baptism for the forgiveness of our sins. We need the grace of God our Father and His mercy every day of our lives.
For our need of salvation, God sent us His son. We are quickly approaching the celebration of His birth. God has given us the greatest gift of all. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we are redeemed; and it all starts with the birth of our savior. That birth in the lowly manger that began the work of our deliverance is what we need.
Throughout his life, Jesus told us to ask His Father, our Father in heaven, for all that we need and more. He said to ask in my name and believe and it will be given to you. Look to the Lord for your needs. Ask what God wants for you. And remember to tell God ‘Thank you’ for the gift he has given us.
 Rev. Timothy E. Morris, associate pastor, Our Savior Lutheran Church, McKinney, Texas: Where Less Is More, December 16, 2001