Digital Christmas

Subtitle

Jesus and Santa

There seem to be two people who get the spotlight at Christmas time: Jesus and Santa. Ever wondered what they have in common.... this little video looks at that question.

 

At Christmas, many people remember the birth of Jesus.  Jesus however didn't remain a baby. And as he grew up his life was filled with unbelievable joy and pain.  People often say that Jesus is the reason for the season.  But you are the reason for Jesus. 

WHO IS JESUS?  CLICK HERE!

Who Is Santa?

Many trace the origins of Santa Claus back to a bishop called Nicholas who lived in Myra.  His recognition as a saint is said to have come in a popular and unofficial way by the common people well before the process of canonising people (giving them the status of a saint) began. 

"Saint" by the way means, "holy" and is the word which the Bible gives to describe all Christians.  This is because all Christians have been made holy in the sight of God; cleansed of sin by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and his blood shed for them.  There is no biblical command to venerate certain Christians giving them the status of "saint".  

In contrast to the belief that a person called Nicholas of Myra actually existed, the Encyclopedia Britannica says that, "Nicholas’s existence is not attested by any historical document"So what follows must be understood in the light of these things.  

Saint Nicholas is believed to have been the 4th century bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  He is said to have been persecuted and imprisoned for his faith under the rule of the Roman emperor Diocletian.   In many countries children receive gifts on December 6 which is called Saint Nicholas Day.  This day was chosen because December 6, 343 AD is proclaimed as the day of his death.  Stories tell of the generosity of St. Nicholas in giving gifts to the poor, and even of miracles.  Gifts were given secretly by means such as tossing coins through open windows.

The  source of Nicholas' riches came from a generous inheritance that he received from his parents who died at an early age. 

One of the most popular stories about St. Nicholas claims that he gave marriage dowries of gold coins to a godly man's three poor girls who without his help would most likely have ended up in a life of prostitution.   Some sources state that this gift of gold was dropped down a chimney, an option he is said to have used when the windows were closed.  Another version of this story says that the gold coins were dropped through an open window and some of the coins fall into a boot drying by an open fire.  Can you see the connection with leaving out stockings by a fire for Santa to fill. 

Another story tells of how St. Nicholas brought back to life three children who had been dismembered and put into a tub of brine.

Because Myra (where Nicholas lived) was a sea port, many sailors heard the story of his generous giving.  They took the idea of secret giving to the poor and needy (in contrast to the commercial hype of the modern day Christmas) back to the lands they came from and so the stories of St. Nicholas (true or not) spread all over that part of the world.   At the start, people followed the example of giving gifts to the poor in secret but over time, this changed to what we see today.

Moving on from 4th century, the Dutch referred to St. Nicholas as Sinterklaas.   When Dutch colonists arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York City) in America in the 17th century the name Sinterklaas was changed by the English speaking people to Santa Claus.  The legend of Sinterklaas (now Santa Claus) was then combined with old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished naughty children and rewarded good children with presents.   

Santa Claus has also been associated with the Nordic God Odin who at Yule time is said to lead a hunting party through the sky lead by an 8 legged horse.  This  horse is said to have been able to leap great distances and this has led to comparisons with Santa Clause’s reindeer.  Tradition says that children would leave items like carrots, straw and sugar in boots by the chimney.   Odin would reward good children and punish the naughty.  Good children received gifts or candy.  Santa has also been traced to the Norse god Thor who traveled through the sky on a chariot pulled by two white goats (called Cracker and Gnasher).  Fire and the colour red are associated with Thor.  The fireplace in every home was sacred to him and he was said to come down through the chimney into the fire which did not harm him because it was his element.

A number of myths about Santa say that he had a dark helper who came with him.  In Scandinavia the dark helper was known as Black Pete.  One of the reasons he was given the name Black Pete was because he had the task of punishing naughty children.  Another was that he was the one who came down the chimney, not Santa!   Black Pete was also known as Old Nick, thought to be the derived from the Dutch word Nikken (the devil) which comes from the Anglo-Saxon nac-an.

The image of Santa Clause being a fat, jolly fellow wearing a red and white suite and hat developed over a period of time (his suite was originally green) and was strongly influenced by a 1931 Coca-Cola advertisement (where he isn’t actually wearing his hat) by Haddon Sundblom.  From the 19th century onwards, this image of a fat, jolly, children loving, gift giving of Santa has continued until today. 

 

Is Santa another name for Satan?

Some have even said that Santa is the devil because his name spells, "Satan"!  But while the myth of Santa has been used for capitalistic gain, and has caused a lot of unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations for families, etc. etc. it is simply childish to say that because one can make the word Satan from the word Santa, that Santa is Satan.  You can make the word 'rats' by reversing the letters in the word 'star'.  Seriously folks, while Santa's image is tarnished and while he doesn't belong in any Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, and while is really has very little in common with the person he is suppose to have evolved from (see below) and, yes, while his image is even used by Satan to draw attention away Christ, Santa is not Satan.  We only raise this because it comes up on the internet and it given more attention that it deserves, which is none!

 

What's the difference between Santa and St. Nicholas?

If you compare the modern day Santa with St. Nicholas, it does give some food for thought.

By the way, the Bible calls ALL Christians "saints''.  If "St. Nicholas" actually existed, he would be no more a saint than any other Christian.

Santa St. Nicholas
No adult believes in his existence
(true, we haven't surveyed all adults)
Some adults believe he existed but have
no historical document to back this up
Secular (non-religious) Spiritual (a Christian leader)
Gives gifts to all even if they don't need them Gave gifts to the poor and needy
Makes a show of giving Gave in secret
Appeals to childrenAppeals to everyone of all ages
Gives once a year
Gave throughout the year
Gives magically and never runs out
Gave of his own until he had nothing let
Encourages Consumption Encourages Compassion
Seriously overweight
Healthy build
Gate crashes someone birthday - December 25 *
Is celebrated on the day of his death - December 6
Proclaims the Sale Proclaims the Saviour

In some places in the world, there is renewed interest in St. Nicholas because of the differences above.  The main difference being that stories of St. Nicholas' life portray him as being dedicated to one thing, living for and pointing people towards Christ, the Saviour of the world.  For this very reason, he would not have wanted to have been put up on stage for all the world to look at and venerate, even given the differences between himself and Santa.  He probably would have echoed the apostle Paul's words, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me (Galatians. 2:20).

* Note: the actual date of Jesus birth is not actually December 25 but the early Church decided to remember his birth on this date.   For more on this, go to the "Christmas" page.   

  

 

Who Is Jesus? - The Promise!

The Bible has many prophecies about a coming messiah who would be the Saviour of the world.  The Bible also teaches that these prophecies were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.  Listen to the video below describe the chances of Jesus fulfilling just 8 prophecies.

 The video to the left explains the chances of Jesus fulfilling just 8 prophecies.  It's pretty mind boggling getting your head around this.

If that is not mind boggling enough, then consider the chances of Jesus fulfilling 48 prophecies, are around 1 in

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.”

Now try and get your head around the fact that Jesus fulfilled many more than 48.... around 300 + prophecies!

This is not a coincidence, this is divine fulfillment of things predicted by God himself about the Messiah he would send to die for the sins of the world.

CLICK HERE  to see a list of prophecies Jesus fulfilled.

Who Is Jesus? - The Person!

 

Question: "Who is Jesus Christ?"

Answer: Unlike the question “Does God exist?” very few people question whether Jesus Christ existed. It is generally accepted that Jesus was truly a man who walked on the earth in Israel 2000 years ago. The debate begins when the subject of Jesus' full identity is discussed. Almost every major religion teaches that Jesus was a prophet or a good teacher or a godly man.

The problem is that the Bible tells us that Jesus was infinitely more than a prophet, a good teacher, or a godly man.

C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity writes the following: “I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”

So, who did Jesus claim to be? Who does the Bible say He is? First, let's look at Jesus’ words in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” At first glance, this might not seem to be a claim to be God. However, look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement, “‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (John 10:33).

The Jews understood Jesus’ statement as a claim to be God. In the following verses, Jesus never corrects the Jews by saying, “I did not claim to be God.” That indicates Jesus was truly saying He was God by declaring, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). John 8:58 is another example: “‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” Again, in response, the Jews took up stones in an attempt to stone Jesus (John 8:59).

Jesus’ announcing His identity as “I am” is a direct application of the Old Testament name for God (Exodus 3:14).Why would the Jews again want to stone Jesus if He had not said something they believed to be blasphemous, namely, a claim to be God?

 

 

John 1:1 says “the Word was God.” John 1:14 says “the Word became flesh.” This clearly indicates that Jesus is God in the flesh. Thomas the disciple declared to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus does not correct him. The apostle Paul describes Him as, “…our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The apostle Peter says the same, “…our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). God the Father is witness of Jesus’ full identity as well, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” Old Testament prophecies of Christ announce His deity, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

So, as C.S. Lewis argued, believing Jesus to be only a good teacher is not an option. Jesus clearly and undeniably claimed to be God. If He is not God, then He is a liar, and therefore not a prophet, good teacher, or godly man. In attempts to explain away the words of Jesus, modern “scholars” claim the “true historical Jesus” did not say many of the things the Bible attributes to Him. Who are we to argue with God’s Word concerning what Jesus did or did not say? How can a “scholar” two thousand years removed from Jesus have better insight into what Jesus did or did not say than those who lived with, served with, and were taught by Jesus Himself (John 14:26)?

Why is the question over Jesus’ true identity so important? Why does it matter whether or not Jesus is God? The most important reason that Jesus has to be God is that if He is not God, His death would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Only God could pay such an infinite penalty (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus had to be God so that He could pay our debt. Jesus had to be man so He could die. Salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ deity is why He is the only way of salvation. Jesus’ deity is why He proclaimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

The above article is printed with permission from our friends at www.gotquestions.org