Take your Bibles, please, and turn to 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 21 through 25, in the King James Version of the Scriptures. 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 21 through 25. The Bible says: 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. Let me begin this message with a story. Tradition tells us that a candy-maker, who was a Christian, wanted to make a special treat for the Christmas season. He wanted to create something that people could take home and hang on their trees, and that would be a testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted his new creation to be a witness for and remind folks of the One Whom Christmas is all about. His new creation was the Candy Cane.
With this in mind, I believe there is a message in the simple Candy Cane. So today I want to preach on the subject: "Christmas, Christ and the Candy Cane."
There are three basic things peculiar to every Candy Cane, and we are going to talk about them, and make a spiritual application. They are: its Shape, its Stripes, and its Savor.
First of all, let's talk about the Shape of the Candy Cane. The Candy Cane is shaped like a Shepherd's Staff.
Our text tells us that Jesus Christ is the Shepherd. The Bible picture of God is that of a Father looking for a lost son, and the Bible picture of the Son is that of a tender Shepherd seeking for his lost sheep that has gone astray. God and His Son are looking for lost sinners who need to be saved. According to John chapter 10 and verse 11, Jesus is the "Good Shepherd," who died for the sheep. Three times in that chapter, the Lord Jesus said: "I lay down my life for the sheep." The Lord Jesus Christ gave His life FOR the sheep, so that they might be saved. He did this because of His love and compassion for the lost. Jesus died in the place of the guilty, hell-deserving sinner, so that we might be saved. The Bible teaches that there is a penalty due for our sin, and that that penalty is an eternity in the Lake of Fire, away from God and His love, for ever. Romans 6:23 says that "the wages of sin is death." So Jesus, the Good Shepherd, died in your stead, as your substitute, and paid the penalty of your sin, so you could be saved, and become a member of his heavenly flock, and go to heaven.
Not only did the Good Shepherd give His life for the sheep, but He also gives His life TO the sheep. He said in John 10:28, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
Eternal life, not just an endless existence, but eternal life, everlasting life, never-ending life, is the gift of God that is given to those who accept Christ as their personal Saviour. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 that "the gift of God is eternal life." According to the Bible, salvation and eternal life are the gifts of God, purchased on Calvary's cross, and available to all who will come to Christ with a repentant heart, and by faith will embrace God's Son as Saviour. Eternal life is found in Christ, and He gives it to all those who will believe in Him.
At this very moment, I know that I am saved, and that I possess eternal life. I know that I am going to heaven. Not because of my goodness, but because of what the Good Shepherd has done for me. The Candy Cane is also shaped like a letter of the alphabet. If you turn it upside down, you will see that it is shaped like the first letter of the Saviour's name. It is a 'J.'
The very name of Jesus speaks of Who He was and what He came to do. When the angel appeared to Mary, he said that she would conceive and give birth to a son, and that His name would be JESUS. The angel said that He would be great, and would be called the Son of the Highest. When the angel appeared to Joseph, he said to him: "...Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matt.1:20,21) The name JESUS means: Jehovah Saves! One of the greatest songs of the Christian faith is entitled: "JESUS SAVES!" It comes from the fact that Christians believe that Jesus is God Almighty in human form. We base this on numerous scriptures, one of which is found in Matthew 1:23, in the very passage where the angel announces the birth of Christ to Joseph. The angel says that the Christ-child shall be called 'Emmanuel,' which means: "God with us." So we sing these words:
We have heard the joyful sound - Jesus saves, Jesus saves! Spread the tidings all around - Jesus saves, Jesus saves! Bear the news to every land, climb the steeps and cross the waves; Onward 'tis our Lord's command - Jesus saves, Jesus saves!
One of my favorite verses in the Bible, 1 Timothy 1:15, says: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
If you are a sinner, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is looking for you, and He wants to save you. Won't you come to Him today?
Second, let's talk about the Stripes of the Candy Cane.
There are two different colors of stripes on the Candy Cane.
There are white stripes. This color speaks of purity, holiness, and sinlessness in the Bible. So we say that the white stripes tell of the sinless life of Christ. The Bible says in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Notice the contrast. Sin is said to be red and scarlet in color, and the opposite of that is to be as wool and white as snow. So white speaks of sinlessness.
The Bible tells us in Heb. 4:15 that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are; that is, He was tempted to sin, just like you and me. But the Bible goes on to say that, though He was tempted, He never gave in to temptation, and He never sinned. In order to save us, Jesus had to be free from sin Himself. He lived the perfect life we could not, and He fulfilled and met the demands of God's holy law. We who are sinners can be saved because He who never sinned died in our place as an innocent substitute. The Bible says it best. In 2 Cor. 5:21 we read these words: "For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
And in 1 Peter 3:18 the Bible says: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just (that's Him) for the unjust (that's us), that he might bring us to God..." You could say that Jesus, at the end of His life, passed God's "white glove inspection," and was found to be perfectly sinless, and therefore He could pay the penalty of our sins, thus satisfying the justice of God.
Now, what about the red stripes? They speak of the Blood of Jesus Christ that flowed from the stripes and wounds inflicted upon Him when He was dying for our sins. It is the blood of Christ, God's Son, that cleanses us from our sin (1 John 1:7). It is the blood of Christ, shed on Calvary's cross, that saves us from sin and its penalty.
The Bible says in Isaiah 53:5 - "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his STRIPES we are healed." Again, in 1 Peter 2:24, the scripture says that He "bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose STRIPES ye were healed." Christ's suffering for sin began in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Bible says He was in such anguish of soul that He "sweat as it were great drops of blood" (Luke 22:44). His agony continued at the hands of the Jewish leaders and the lashes of the Roman whips. Every stroke of the whip that fell upon His precious back was a STRIPE He suffered because of our sin. Every blow that broke open His skin and caused the blood to flow was for the commandments we had broken. On Calvary's mountain His agony increased. They nailed Him to a Roman cross in order to execute Him like a common criminal. There were holes in His hand, holes in His feet, holes in His head, a hole in His heart, and stripes upon His back. All this was done for one purpose. To pay the penalty of our sins and to purchase our redemption.
One songwriter put it this way: On a hill called Calvary Jesus my Lord suffered for me; Carried the cross all the way my sins to atone. Then they nailed Him to the cross, Great was the pain and the loss..... He suffered it all because He loved me.
Then they carried Him away, placed Him in a lowly grave; Surely they thought this would be the end of this Man. But on that third and glorious day, God came and rolled the stone away..... He rose from the dead because He loved me.
Because He loved me, my Saviour died, on the cross was crucified; No greater love by mortal man has ever been known. Oh, praise His dear name, He loves me so; Now I am His, and He is mine; He suffered it all....because he loved me.
Now, finally, let's mention the Savor of the Candy Cane.
The savor is the combination of aroma and flavor. The Candy Cane is made of peppermint. It emits an aroma and it has flavor. The aroma is sweet to the senses, and it will draw you. The Bible says that the sacrifice of Christ is a "sweet-smelling savor" to God. That means that the Lord is pleased with what Jesus did on the Cross. Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32) That was a reference to His dying on Calvary, when He was lifted up between heaven and earth, and hung upon the old rugged cross. There is an attraction, a drawing power, in the Gospel. When properly preached and presented it will attract people who realize their need of God's forgiveness. It meets the deepest spiritual need of man by offering salvation to all. The Gospel offers hope and eternal life to all those who will believe.
The flavor is pleasant. It is sweet to the taste. Just like the aroma will draw you, the flavor will delight you. Wouldn't you know the Bible says something about this? Psalm 34, verse 8 says - "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."
How does a person taste of the Lord? The verse says to TRUST IN HIM. Have you trusted in the Lord as your personal Saviour? Have you tasted of the LORD and seen that He is good?
A little boy was sitting outside a downtown church, eating a piece of Christmas pie that he had gotten inside. An old man walked by and asked him, "How is your Christmas pie?" The little boy told him it was good. The old man asked him, "How good?" The little boy told him it was real good. The old man said, "Well, just how 'real good' is it?" The little boy, exasperated with the man's questions, said: "Mister, I can't tell you just how good it is. You'll just have to taste it and see for yourself!"
Friend, we can tell you all about the Lord, but until you've tried Him yourself, you'll never know how good He is and how good it is to know Him.
This Christmas, if you've never tasted of the Lord and trusted Him as your Saviour, why don't you do so, and make this the best Christmas ever? In the midst of exchanging gifts this time of year in the name of Christ, don't overlook the greatest gift of all, which is Christ Himself. When you accept God's Christmas gift, you receive the free pardon of sins and the free gift of eternal life. Wouldn't you like to be sure of heaven? Then by faith, why don't you bow your head and receive Christ as your personal Saviour today? With a repentant attitude and a believing heart, just pray, "Lord, I know that I am a sinner, and without you I will be lost forever. Please come into my heart. Forgive me of my sins, save me from hell, and give me eternal life. In Jesus' Name, Amen."
If you just prayed that prayer, and meant it with your heart, then Christ came into your life, and you can know that you are saved and on your way to heaven.
I leave you with one final thought. The next time you see a Candy Cane, or hang one on your Christmas tree, remember what the Candy maker designed it for. To bear witness of the Christ of Christmas. And the next time you break a Candy Cane, remember that the body of Christ was broken for you, and His blood was shed for you - because He loved you.
Remember - Jesus is the reason for the season.
Keep Jesus First In Christmas
As now we celebrate His birth, The coming of Christ to earth; May we, amid our joyous mirth, Keep Jesus first in Christmas.
As chiming bells ring out their lay, And hearts are merry, light and gay; Remember it is His birthday, Keep Jesus first in Christmas.
Let's sing of Him in carols sweet, Let's lay our best gifts at His feet, And make the season's joy complete, With Jesus first in Christmas.
Solid Rock Baptist Church - Serving the Lord in the Memphis/Mid-South area