A poem by Simon Camilleri
When Santa learned the gospel, he first heard it from an elf.
This tiny Santa’s helper had just learnt of it himself.
A child had asked for Christmas to receive a Bible book.
This elf had made one in the shop, then paused to have a look.
He read all about Jesus and the call to follow Him.
He learned how Jesus lived and taught and died to pay for sin.
He learned how Jesus rose again and how He will return
And then this elf read how he should respond to all he’d learned.
He shut the book, put down his tools, then closed his eyes and prayed.
Right there and then this little elf trusted in Christ that day.
The next day he told Santa. It was awkward, unprepared.
He knew he didn’t know that much, but what he knew he shared.
He told Santa the gospel. It was simple. It was short.
But a seed was sown in Santa’s heart, which grew into a thought.
Santa reflected on his life and the message he supported,
Then compared it to the gospel that the elf had just reported.
He’d always thought that everyone was naughty or was nice.
He had them all on two big lists. He even checked it twice.
He’d always thought that you got gifts only if you’d been good.
The naughty kids got lumps of coal. That’s what he understood.
They’d all line up in shopping malls and sit upon his knee
And claim that they were always nice. As nice as nice can be.
Of course, he saw them when they slept and knew when they awoke.
He also knew their nice attempts were pretty much a joke.
Their heads were filled not with nice thoughts of kindness, peace and joy,
But with the never-ending list of their desired toys.
He knew their hearts, but he had thought, “They’re trying to be good.
That’s good enough to make the list. Otherwise no one would!”
So every year their “good enough” with toys would be rewarded.
And every year (he realized) this message he supported:
THE “GOOD” WILL GET THE PRESENTS.
THE “BAD” WILL GET THE COAL.
AND TRYING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH
IS GOOD ENOUGH A GOAL.
That was the message that he knew, but now he knew another.
He had just heard the gospel. So he compared them to each other.
The message of the gospel turned his message upside down.
The good, the bad, naughty and nice, it switched it all around.
“There’s no one good but God alone” he’d heard Jesus concluded.
And those who claim they’re “good enough” are simply just deluded.
If there’s a list of who is “good”, the standard we’ve all missed.
And Santa saw that even he was on the naughty list.
That shook his world. That rocked his boat. That gripped him in his soul.
To think that even Santa Claus deserved a lump of coal.
But that was only half of what the gospel message said.
It also flipped what happened to the naughty on its head.
Instead of being written off as just not good enough.
The message to the naughty list was one of grace and love.
The gospel offered mercy to all those deserving coal.
The gospel offered forgiveness and cleansing of your soul.
The gospel told how Jesus died our death to pay the price
To reconcile us all to God – both naughty and the nice.
This offer was a real gift, unlike presents ‘neath the tree.
It was not earned by being good. It was offered for free.
For all his life Santa had claimed that if you had been bad
Then you would not get presents and your Christmas would be sad.
Santa compared his message with this new one he had learned.
His message said you get the presents your good deeds had earned.
The message of the gospel offered something so much greater…
Jesus had come to reconcile the world to their Creator.
When Santa grasped the gospel, he did not know what to do
And so the elf said nervously, “How ’bout I pray with you?”
Then that night at the North Pole, by the fire in his den,
With a simple prayer led by an elf, Santa was born again.
And now, in Christ, forgiven, free – his new life had begun
and Santa had a new message to share with everyone.
© Simon Camelleri
Posted, December 2017
Both Jesus Christ and Santa Claus feature in many Christmas celebrations. Everyone likes Santa because he is jolly man who brings gifts to children around the world. But why is Jesus better than Santa?
Fact or myth?
Four separate eyewitness biographies are given of Jesus in the Bible by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Three of these were written about 30 years after most of the events they describe. And the first-century Jewish historian Josephus called James “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”. These historical records confirm that Jesus was a man who lived in Israel between about 5 BC and AD 30. He was an historical character and not a mythical figure.
Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, a fourth century Christian bishop, who was known for his generosity and kindness. Saint Nicholas lived in Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). There are many legends about him, but we don’t know if any of them are true! He is said to have used his inheritance to help the poor and sick, giving secret gifts to people who needed them. In particular there are stories about helping three poor sisters and saving three men from death. Because of his kindness Nicholas was made a saint and he was a popular saint in Europe until the Reformation in the 1550s. After this time, the Dutch continued to celebrate the feast day of St Nicholas on 6th December when children put out their shoes the night before and the next morning they would discover gifts left by St Nicholas. In the 19th century this story was transformed to Santa Claus leaving gifts at Christmas time. He was now described as a jolly, heavy man wearing a red suit with white fur trim who comes down the chimney to leave presents for deserving children and drives a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Santa is only a mythical figure.
So, Jesus Christ is an historical character while Santa Claus is only a legendary character.
The best gift
In the song “Santa Claus is coming to town”, Santa makes a list of those who are naughty and bad (who miss out on presents) and a list of those who are nice and good (who get presents). So Santa only comes for good people. He asks, “Have you been good?”.
On the other hand, Jesus came for sinners, and not for those who thought they were good – He said “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Mt. 9:13; Mk. 2:17; Lk. 5:32NLT). After the conversion of Zacchaeus, a well know sinner, Jesus said that He “came to seek and to save those who are lost” (Lk. 19:10). As the Bible says we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), this means He came for everyone!
Recently when cleaning out a family home that had been occupied for three generations, we found some things that had been Christmas presents. However, as many of these were no longer useful or significant, they were thrown out as rubbish. Christmas presents eventually finish up in the garbage (trash) dump. Santa’s gifts only have a finite lifetime.
By comparison, Jesus offered the gift of forgiveness and of eternal life, which goes on forever! He asks, “Do you want to be forgiven?”. Also, the gift was Himself, not something that had been made by a person or a machine. Jesus is the best gift! He is God’s greatest gift. Paul called it “indescribable” (2 Cor. 9:15). “This is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Let’s remember this as we give gifts to each other this Christmas.
Jesus gave the best gift – it lasts longer and is for everyone.
Written, December 2014