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Pere Noel. Father Christmas. Sinterklaas. Santa Claus.
These are all familiar names for a beloved, festive figure whose legend was inspired by a real-life hero who lived hundreds of years ago: a living, breathing saint. A man named Nicholas.
St. Nicholas was a priest who was known for his compassion for the poor and needy. All kinds of myths and legends have grown up around his story. Some say he was born to a life of wealth and privilege, and that he forsook his position to care for the lowly and downtrodden. Sailors believed his prayers kept them safe on the high seas. Children looked to him as their patron saint---their protector and provider. Some say St. Nicholas performed miracles, and there are numerous accounts of his kindness and generosity. Perhaps the most famous story involves three sisters who lived in abject poverty. They were about to be sold into slavery for the sake of their family’s survival. St. Nicholas anonymously supplied money for their dowries so that the girls could be married instead.
All of the stories agree that St. Nicholas was a man who understood the true spirit of Christmas. It was at the heart of his heroism---all of his unselfish deeds, his many kindnesses. His sacrificial giving was inspired by his love for Jesus---the greatest Christmas gift of all.
More than two thousand years ago, the angels announced the arrival of this most precious gift: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
The world desperately needed a Savior. We needed someone who could rescue us from the darkness of our own hearts. Our failures and mistakes, our willful disobedience to God’s laws---the Bible calls this “sin.” Sin becomes an instant barrier between God and man. Ultimately it leads to death and hell---eternal separation from God.
Jesus came to save us by taking the punishment in our place, paying the penalty for us. He died on the cross for our sins---yours and mine. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Because of what Jesus suffered, because of His death on the cross, because of His resurrection, the power of sin has been broken. God and sinners have been reconciled.
To all who receive Him, to all who believe in His name, “he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
What an amazing gift! Because of Jesus, we can come to know the true Father of Christmas. We can experience all the love, peace, and joy He longs to give us. We can look forward to the hope of heaven and eternal life.
If you’d like to receive the best Christmas gift ever---and begin your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ---you might pray something like this:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. Come fill my heart with Your love---live in me as the true spirit of Christmas---now and always. Each day may my life honor You and bless others. Amen.
Buy The Story of St. Nicholas by Christin Ditchfield from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9785901009802 & 5901009800 upc: 663575728252
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