Was Jesus Upset About Santa? (Just Like You)

The other day a fellow brother in the Lord was thinking through some things. He wondered if Jesus ever believed something that wasn’t true and was he upset when he found out it wasn’t true. Specifically, he wondered what happened to Jesus when he found out that Santa wasn’t real. Since error in knowledge is part and parcel of being human would Jesus have been exempted from this very real sorrow?

I distinctly remember the day my daughter found out there was no Santa. She was hurt. She was scandalized. She was in tears—that is, up until she denied the knowledge and reaffirmed her belief in the oversized man in the red suit. As my daughter stood there weeping I thought back to my brother’s problems and formulated my own question: “Did Mary ever experience the same thing with her young boy when she broke the awful news?”

Why is it so hard for us to imagine Jesus finding out Santa isn’t real?

I think it’s because we don’t have a proper understanding of the incarnation and substitution. We tend to see Jesus as this ball of light encased in man meat and not as the fully human being he was— human being with all our foibles like stuttering, hair-loss, and a penchant for borrowing things for really long times. But the Gospel tells us that he took on every aspect of our flesh and blood so as to redeem us (Heb 2:14-15). As such, he had to suffer the same weaknesses we suffer except our sin (Heb 4:15). Is it sinful to believe in Santa? Is it sinful to tell others that Santa is real? Is it sinful to discover Santa is false and be crushed by the knowledge? Is it sinful to borrow someone’s hammer and not give it back for several years only when one is borrowing something else?

And yet we go about affirming things that depict an utterly Gnostic Christ—a Christ who cannot be touched by our infirmities and traipses through life never having believed in Santa and never having had cast his eyes longingly at brunette little people. But the Gospel tells us that Christ, just like us, came as a baby child that had to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger (Luke 2:12). And why do we wrap babies in swaddling clothes and place them in mangers? The same reason we wrap all babies in swaddling clothes and place them in mangers; to keep them dry, warm and prove to be good company for the animals eating from mangers.

The Gospel tells us that for him to be a proper sacrifice, he had  to fully identify with us. He got his arm dirty to pull us out of the mire. So it was fitting for him, by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory that he should be made perfect through suffering—and who doesn’t suffer when the brunette little lady rejects one or if Santa proves to be unreal? It was the way he would learn obedience. It was the way he could stand as our High Priest being fully human, fully feeling our weaknesses except sin.

So it was fitting, no, necessary that he would believe in Santa and suffer when he discovered that there was no such thing as Santa. Does that scandalize you? To imagine your God and Savior weeping at the discovery that there was no Santa? Well, if he was fully human—as the Gospel says—then he necessarily felt the loss that is only felt upon such a gut-wrenching discovery. So many kids in our world suffer this, as do many of you who are reading this, so Christ had to suffer that as well. The Bible says so.

I hope your kids don’t discover that there is no Santa. But when they do (since all kids believe in Santa and necessarily, one day won’t), I hope you remember, just for a minute in their discomfort, that Jesus has passed through everything you and your kids will ever face—not only believing in Santa, but things like bad breath, diarrhea, anal-itch, attraction to brunette midgets, a penchant at sinless flirting, a broken marriage, and his finger on the pulse of the latest fashions. So remember the gospel of the incarnation and substitution with the very real understanding that when Jesus found out there was no Santa he wept, just like you, me, and your child.

(Sampling of my inspiration.) An additional one.

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14 thoughts on “Was Jesus Upset About Santa? (Just Like You)

  1. Oh well. I actually thought you were linking to that because you didn’t agree with it. It seemed you weren’t a fan of Enns’ book.

    I only wish, though, that you linked to me because I had had such an effect on you. :(

  2. I’m not a fan of Enns and I don’t agree with it. That’s why I wrote this post to make fun of that sort of thing. I mean, I actually wrote that Jesus had a penchant for brunette midgets and flirting.

  3. Rey, the Gospel is history. Real history on a very real time line. Santa is a very real “thing” that showed up later than the real history of the gospel.

    Maybe you should have used Cthulu instead of Santa, like “Was Jesus upset when he found out about Cthulu (like your kids and Santa)”

  4. Except, the Santa that kids believe in isn’t the St. Nicholas of our timeline. It’s the Santa of the non-timeline who rides around on a flying sleigh and lives in the North Pole.

  5. I’m not a fan of Enns and I don’t agree with it. That’s why I wrote this post to make fun of that sort of thing. I mean, I actually wrote that Jesus had a penchant for brunette midgets and flirting.

    If you had been serious with this article (though I understand the brunette thing), it would have been a well-written article for me.

  6. or the little people, or the flirting, or even the whole bit that Jesus believed in Santa? Please tell me all those things as well.

  7. Scott,

    The whole point of the article is that Jesus cannot possibly have experienced everything that we experience. There is a tendency in our age to assume that because I feel a particular pain (the unrequited love of Brunette Midgets, for example), and that because Jesus was human, he must have felt the same pain I do.

    It again goes to this issue of defining the humanity of Christ by the humanity of mem—a scary thought for all, I suspect. This is cart-before-the-horse thinking. Jesus is human, but he is truly human. I am human, too, but my sinfulness makes me sub-human. In looking at Christ, then, I look at humanity as it ought to be, not as it is. This is a hopeful thing, because I see that he has not only identified himself with me (and therefore understands me intimately, and that I cannot hide from him my fears and faults and failings—or my unrequited loves), but he has promised to make me like himself.

    If I’m all upset about Santa, that doesn’t mean that Jesus was, too. If I have bad breath, that doesn’t mean that Jesus did, too. I’m not saying that Jesus didn’t have bad breath, but that we need to assess more critically what it means to be human—without the unwarranted assumption that it should look just like me.

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