Is Jesus no different to Santa?

Dylan Brady writes:

I found this quote from an atheist article this week:

“So what is the difference between believing in Jesus Christ and believing in Santa Claus? Jesus is just Santa for adults. So if you don’t believe in Santa but you do believe in Jesus, maybe it’s time to do what every child eventually does…grow up.”

This view is not as uncommon among atheists and agnostics.

Richard Dawkins follows a similar line of thought in the God Delusion:

“So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal’s wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can’t prove that there aren’t any, so shouldn’t we be agnostic with respect to fairies?”

So is there any substance to these claims?

Has the Christian faith just been rumbled?

Is Jesus any different to Santa/ Tooth Fairy/ Easter Bunny?

As we approach Christmas day, I’d just like to highlight 3 reasons why Jesus is no comparison to the big man in red.

He’s not just for children 

Whereas we almost exclusively associate Santa with his kindness towards children, Jesus spoke, healed and preached to people from all ages and backgrounds. Jesus was indeed a Messiah for children and the gospels refer to the way in which he stooped down to bless them. He scolded the disciples for stopping children from coming to him. But during his ministry he spoke to Jews and gentiles, men and women, healthy and the sick, the rich and the poor, young and old. His ministry was universal. The Gospel message transcends gender, age, culture, language. No one is off limits.

He’s real

This is what stops the Santa comparison dead in its tracks. Jesus is a historically true figure. Saint Nicholas, the man that Father Christmas is based on did exist; but it’s all a very loose connection. (I really hope there are no children reading this by the way!) Nicholas was a Greek man from the 4th century but didn’t fly in a reindeer driven sleigh dishing out presents. Jesus was real and the person we read about in our bibles today isn’t a commercialised watered down version being used as a marketing ploy by Coca Cola. The accounts we have in our Bibles are written by eye witnesses who were transformed by the God man they interacted with in 1st century Israel.  It’s the very same Jesus we read about that we will meet with face to face in Heaven.

He doesn’t just come to good people

This is the best news of all. Santa famously only comes to good people. The naughty or nice list has been an excellent tool utilised by cunning parents in order to get unruly children to behave. Father Christmas’ famous stance on dishing out gifts is completely behaviour dependent. Good behaviour gets you a good present while bad behaviour will earn you a lump of coal. That’s the most exciting difference between Jesus and Santa. We all belong on the naughty list. We’re born sinful and there’s not a day that goes past where our selfish/angry/jealous/lazy/crude side doesn’t rear its ugly head. The good news is that Jesus came exclusively to help the sinful. He says in Mark 2:17: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” With Santa we get the present our behaviour deserves. With Jesus we get what we don’t deserve because He suffered in our place.

Santa may take centre stage in our 21st century Christmas but let’s not forget that there is a man that we should look to on December 25th as well as all year round. That man is Jesus Christ, who is described so wonderfully in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

A made up man that gives presents may offer some short lived excitement; but nothing as exciting as a true God who became a man and died in our place in order that we might have eternal life.