Who takes centre stage at Christmas? Many would answer, ‘Santa Claus’. The friendly bearded man dressed in a red suit, who gives out presents to children, seems to be everywhere at Christmas-time!
In advertising, greetings cards, Hollywood films, and shopping centres – Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) is increasingly the focus of the festivities. But with all the expectations that surround this man, does he really deliver?
Just for interest, let’s compare him with the true centrepiece of Christmas – Jesus Christ.
First of all, Jesus Christ is a fact of history. Quite apart from the Bible, at least nineteen first- and second-century authors refer to Jesus as an historical figure. The Bible itself makes this very clear – ‘when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman…’ (Galatians 4:4).
Writing only a few years after Jesus’ life on earth, the apostle Peter said, ‘we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty’
(2 Peter 1:16).
Santa, on the other hand is little more than a legend. Although there probably was an original St Nicholas, he was far removed from the mythical man with his sleigh, reindeer, gnomes and toy-factory. Don’t tell the children, but Santa is a 19th century, mainly American, invention!
Where’s the joy?
Secondly, Jesus Christ brings joy that lasts! The shepherds heard and remembered the angelic announcement: ‘Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:10-11).
Santa may bring a measure of happiness at Christmas but it’s only temporary – whatever goodies he leaves under the tree, they are soon forgotten. Our habitual lack of joy and contentment quickly surfaces again once Christmas is over.
We are all looking for true happiness, but perhaps you are looking in all the wrong places. Only Christ can bring real and lasting joy to our hearts.
What’s the point?
Thirdly, Jesus Christ came to save. This was the whole point of his coming into the world. ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’, declares the Bible (1 Timothy 1:15).
He knew what a mess we were in here on earth and condescended to come from heaven on the greatest rescue mission of all time. Jesus came to save us from the root problem in all of our lives – sin.
Santa (we pretend) comes to reward those who are good. The problem is that at heart none of us are good: ‘For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin’ (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
As we look around at others we like to think that we are ‘not too bad’ or ‘better than most’. But God’s assessment is more accurate than our own. We need to face up to it and respond accordingly. The good news is that Jesus ‘did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance’ (Mark 2:17).
What’s the result?
Fourthly, Jesus Christ came just once to complete his mission. ‘Once, at the end of the ages, he has appeared to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself … Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many’ (Hebrews 9:26-28).
God’s only Son, who had no sins of his own, was willing to suffer the penalty that our sins deserve. He allowed himself to be treated like the worst of criminals and be pinned to a Roman cross. During the long hours in which he suffered and died, he took the place of guilty sinners like ourselves.
His resurrection three days later proved to the whole world that the job was done! This great act of atoning sacrifice never ever needs to be repeated. Old Santa, on the other hand, has to come back year after year. So his work is never really done, is it?
What’s it worth?
Finally, Jesus Christ offers the most valuable present the world has ever known! ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). These are remarkable words.
They make it plain that we deserve nothing but condemnation. But they also make clear that God the Father is willing to not only take away our sin, but also to give us everlasting life through his Son Jesus. What a stupendous gift! This priceless gift is available to all who are willing to trust in him.
However much they cost, Santa’s presents are insignificant by comparison. Jesus once asked, ‘What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’ (Mark 8:36).
No doubt Santa Claus is harmless fun. But please don’t let him push from view the one you really need this Christmas – Jesus Christ the Saviour. Turn from your sin and trust in him today!