Legend of the Candy Cane
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 21, 2003
This is the week.
Finally after weeks or even months of preparation, we get to celebrate
Christmas. As that day approaches, let me ask you: What does Christmas
mean to you?
Heard a good one this
What would happen if your mother dropped the Christmas dinner platter
on the floor?
The downfall of Turkey, the breakup of China, and the overthrow of
Somebody went out on the streets and asked people why they celebrate
Christmas. This video is the result.
WATCH E-SSENTIALS VIDEO
You ask people on the
street why they celebrate Christmas and you’ll get a variety of
answers. Like we saw in the video, you’ll find answers that focus on
family, on the gifts, on charity, on Santa, on religion… you’ll even
find people who are dead-set against celebrating Christmas at all.
Of course, Christmas finds its roots in Christianity. The word “Christ”
is found right there… Christ-mas, which literally means the sending of
Jesus Christ from Heaven to Earth.
So when we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the fact that Jesus, who
the Bible tells us is God, gave up His rights and privileges as God in
order to come to earth to restore our relationship with Him, a
relationship that was broken thousands of years earlier when we as a
race rebelled against Him.
This morning, we’re going to discover how this entire message—the
entire message of Christmas—can be represented in this tiny little
Candy Cane. I want you to listen to this story first, and then we’ll
talk more about it.
PLAY THE LEGEND OF THE
Okay, that’s the Legend
of the Candy Cane. And it’s a pretty interesting story, even for
adults. Let me give you some more of the background of the Candy Cane.
Apparently, the first Candy Cane was created way back in 1670. At that
time, there was a choirmaster in a church in Cologne, Germany who was
concerned about young children squirming in their seats during the
church service. So he designed this candy to hand out to the kids to
keep them occupied. Of course, somebody would complain if he simply
handed out candy… somebody always complains… so he bent the end of the
candy to make it look like a shepherd’s staff. And by doing that he
made it a “religious” candy, so nobody had a reason to complain.
It didn’t take long before people discovered how well the candies could
hang on a Christmas tree, so the Canes quickly began selling
commercially. All this for a plain white sugar candy with a bend in it.
The stripes were added sometime later, probably in the 1920s. One
version of the story, which is probably an urban myth, states that a
confectioner in Indiana wanted the candy to communicate a message, so
he added the red and green stripes to represent specific parts of the
But while this story is most likely untrue, the message is very true.
So what we’re going to do over the next several minutes is talk about
some of the features of the Candy Cane that communicate a message. And
to help you follow along, here’s a Candy Cane…
HAND OUT CANDY CANES
The Legend of the Candy Cane:
A. “J” stands
The shape in the form of a “J” serves to remind us that the whole
Christmas season is meant to celebrate Jesus. It’s become a cliché, but
Jesus really is the reason for the season.
The name Jesus literally means, “God will help”.
Literally means “God will help”
How does God help us through the person of Jesus?
The Bible uses several terms to refer to Jesus other than His name. Let
me just cover a few of them as they relate to the Christmas story:
References for Jesus:
Immanuel = “God is
(also spelled with an E)
Matthew 1:23 (NLT)
"Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning,
God is with us)."
This isn’t another name for Jesus. It’s more like a description of who
He is. Kind of like this: I can say, “I am Shera’s husband.” My name is
not Shera’s Husband, but it does describe who I am.
I have a cousin who lives out in Vancouver. A few years ago, she came
to visit with her husband and their two kids. Their daughter, Amanda,
who was about 4 years old at the time, really hit it off with Shera. So
ever since then she’s wanted to come back to visit Shera and the man
who lives with Shera. Well, okay. That’s not my name, but it does
describe who I am.
“Immanuel” describes Jesus. He is the God who lives with us.
Christ = “the
Anointed One, the expected king and deliverer” (also, Messiah)
After Jesus was born, an angel appeared to some shepherds and told them…
Luke 2:11 (NIV)
Today in the town of David a Saviour has
been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
He is the Anointed One in that He has no equals. We’re told He is the
King of kings and the Lord of lords. And He came to deliver us from the
bondage of sin and guilt and to free us to live the lives we were meant
to live within a relationship with God.
In that same verse, He is called the Saviour.
Saviour = “one who
rescues from destruction”
Without Jesus, we’re all destined for Hell. Because of our rebellion
against our Creator, that’s what we deserve. Because of our sinfulness
in the light of God’s holiness, that’s where we belong. But because of
Jesus, we can receive forgiveness. Our slate can be wiped clean. And we
can look forward to an eternity with God in Heaven.
The Candy Cane looks
like a “J”. It reminds us of Jesus. But turn it over and it resembles
B. Resembles a
The very first people to
hear about the birth of Jesus, apart from Mary and Joseph and a few
barn animals, was a group of shepherds on a nearby hillside. Why?
Why were the shepherds the first to hear?
The message was
first proclaimed to shepherds, the “Average Joes” of the day.
The fact that the shepherds were the first to hear is a message to us
that Jesus didn’t come only for the rich and famous. He didn’t just
come for Kings and politicians. He came for everyone. The shepherds
were essential to the Middle-eastern economy, but they certainly
weren’t held in high esteem. They were just ordinary people, working
shift-work, who received the tremendous announcement of the birth of
Jesus is the Great
Shepherd who gathers us, His sheep, into the fold of God.
Jesus Himself declared…
John 10:14-15 (NLT)
"I am the good shepherd; I know my own
sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the
Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Red – reminds
us of the suffering of Jesus
Specifically, the red
reminds us of the crucifixion of Jesus. As part of the process, Jesus
was whipped. The three small red stripes on the Candy Cane reminds us
of the lashing Jesus took. The thicker red stripe reminds us of the
blood that He shed. It reminds us that He suffered and bleed and died
for us. Our rebellion, our sinfulness, required punishment. But Jesus
took our place, suffered for our sins, and did it all so the penalty
would be served and we could go free. And the great news is that even
though Jesus died, He didn’t stay dead. Jesus proved that He was God
and that He has authority over sin and death by rising from the dead.
That’s what we celebrate at Easter.
White – reminds
us of the purity of forgiveness
Psalm 51:7 (NLT)
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)
"Come now, let us argue this out," says the
LORD. "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I
can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained
as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”
The white on the Candy Cane reminds us that Jesus offers us forgiveness
and that we can we washed pure. But here’s the key: we must
intentionally receive His forgiveness. He’s offering it, but we must
reach out and take it. We do that by expressing to Him that we’re sorry
for the times we’ve hurt Him and we ask His forgiveness. We tell Him
that we accept His leadership in our lives. And we tell Him that we
choose to live for Him from this moment on.
If you’re here this morning and you’ve never received the forgiveness
of God and you’ve never begun a relationship with the risen Christ,
then you can do that this morning right where you are. All you have to
do is pray silently from your heart and invite Him into your life. And
you can be sure that He will wash you as white as snow.
There’s one more colour that is sometimes included on a Candy Cane…
Green – reminds
us of the new life Jesus offers.
John 10:10 (NLT)
“The thief's purpose is to steal and kill
and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
“Give Him all your anxieties and fears--and accept His peace in return.
Only He can give you the inner calm for which you long. He wants you to
have it, if you will only take it. Think of it as a Christmas gift from
your heavenly Father.”
~ Thomas Pless, 'All Is Calm' from 'Let Every Heart'
Jesus came to give you a full and abundant life now, and He also came
to give you eternal life with Him.
Romans 6:23 (NLT)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free
gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
With all the gifts being handed out this week and all the gifts you
hope to receive, I’m here to tell you that the very greatest gift you
could ever receive is this gift of eternal life that is being offered
So where are you at this
morning? Do you know this Jesus? Do you understand what Christmas is
all about? Have you experienced the hope, love, peace and joy you can
have because of Jesus coming to earth as a baby? If not, then you can
realize this morning that this Legend of the Candy Cane is much more
than a legend… it’s a reality. And it can be a reality for you today.
Would you close your eyes for a moment? Here’s what I want you to do
this morning. If you’re here and you don’t know Jesus and you’ve never
experienced His love and forgiveness in your life but you’d like to, I
want you to look up and make eye contact with me. I’m not going to
mention you by name, but I want to be able to pray for you.
Hand out Candy Canes & Bookmarks.