As parents, when a child asks whether Santa is real, we have to ponder on our answer based on the level of understanding or maturity of the child.
As Christ spoke to the disciples in His days, he tailored his teaching to the extent that they can naturally understand. Nature, overall, was the theme occupying most of of his responses: the rain, the wind, the seed, the sun, the mountain, etc…
Knowing that the disciples were very limited at understanding things unless naturally illustrated, he added,
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)
Concerning forgiveness, Christ initially taught, “unless you forgave others, my Father in heaven will not forgive you.” This really was all the disciples could really agree to: they had to forgive in order to be forgiven. It seems fair and square like “an eye for an eye” or “you reap what you sow”
Then later, he progressively introduced forgiveness as gift, and not a reward:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
“Sun, rising on the evil and the good…Rain, falling on the righteous and unrighteous” represents the perfect natural picture of who God is.
The shadow, therefore, is: “love others as yourself…do unto others what you would want them to do onto you.”
The reality, as progressively revealed, is:”Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12; 13:34)
The shadow: forgive to be forgiven
The reality: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
In Christ, God forgave you.
If God was to forgive me because I had forgiven all others, then I would have room to say that I earned my forgiveness. It would have been a fair news on my part, except that I could never reach such forgiveness no matter how hard or how long I would try.
But God forgave me in Christ, not in my failing attempts of forgiving others.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
The only way that God could forgive me was by counting my sins against Christ on the cross and not myself because unlike me, Christ, is without blemish, without sins. And whatever sins that he then considered His came from the entire world including me who was to be born way in the future.
Therefore, in telling mankind to forgive in order to be forgiven, Christ saw mankind reaching their very limit in the blank of an eye. And by mercy and love, God in Christ intervened and forgave all of our sins as the death of Jesus on the cross bore us record.
The shadow and the reality.
The shadow asks you to do, but the reality is that it’s already done.
What the law couldn’t do, God did. God had mercy on us and saved us in Christ.
There was a time that it would hurt us to hear that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. But as we grew in maturity, we become convinced that God in Christ Jesus is our sole provider.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
As Christ once said,
“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matthew 10:27)
By the grace of God, born of His Spirit to His glory, His Son, Christ Jesus, we are the light of the world.