It was until many years later that I learned what the candy cane was all about. In Sunday school, I learned Christmas isn’t about the birth of Santa Claus. It is about the birth of Jesus.
A woman in a church I was consulting gave a children’s message during the morning worship on the first Sunday in December. She had a candy cane as a visual aid. Each of the children got a little candy cane.This is what I learned: the candy cane is not a cane at all. It is a shepherd’s staff, to teach what Jesus said about Himself. He said, “I am the Good Shepherd.” He talked about people as sheep. It is a polite way of describing how dumb people are sometimes.
My wife and I lived in Australia years ago. There, I learned about sheep. They don’t know to come in from the rain. They are constantly wandering from the safe path. They are often (and literally) caught between a rock and a hard place. They will die there, if not rescued.
Sheep need a shepherd. The shepherd is there to save the sheep from tight spots. I thought shepherds had a staff to keep their balance. The shepherd’s staff is to hook sheep that are in danger and pull them to safety. No wonder the birth of Jesus is good news for wayward sheep like me…like you. That’s what Christmas is all about.
Yet, that is not the whole story. Jesus says, “The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. He is good because He is willing to do whatever it takes. “Whatever it takes” is His death on a cross. Christmas is just a birthday without Good Friday and Easter.
The Good Shepherd is good because He is perfect. He is pure. That’s why part of the candy cane is white – as in purity.
To take the wrap for us, Jesus had to take the punishment in our place. It sounds bad, and it was…for Him. It was really good for us, and it still is. That’s why He got the nickname, Savior. He had to shed His blood. That’s why the candy cane is also red. It’s red for blood. White for purity, red for blood. It may ruin your appetite for candy canes. It should make you hungry for His love and forgiveness.
The hook in the staff is to rescue you, and me. It required the pure baby to grow up and bleed. I can’t explain or fathom why the God of the universe could possibly love us that much. That’s why it takes faith – simple trust like the kid who comes forward for a candy cane.
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Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.