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.