Jesus and Hanukkah

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Israel Today, Teachings / By

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” – John 10:22-24

This week if you contact any synagogue and ask what the “Feast of Dedication” is, they may invite you to their Hanukah celebration so you can experience it firsthand. Hanukkah is often called the festival of lights or the Feast of Dedication. Although it may be a surprise to some, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in the Temple. But why?

Holiday of Hanukkah is, at its core, a celebration of casting Greek influences out of Jewish life and returning to God’s instructions for life and worship; in a word — re-dedication. Although this feast is not commanded in Scripture as it occurred in the 400 years between the book of Malachi and the birth of John the Baptist, it commemorates the Temple rededication at the end of the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks in the 2nd Century BC. This war was led by a family of priests and ignited by the forced sacrifice of pigs on God’s altar, a repulsive action as viewed through the Torah’s eyes. After a few years of battle, the Greek occupiers were thrown out and the work of restoring the Temple began.

During the Temple’s restoration, enough oil was found to light the Menorah and give light for one day although it would another seven days until more oil could be made. Since one day of light was better than none at all, the lamp was lit. The miracle of Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights was that the lamp stayed lit for eight days until more oil was ready.

It was during this season of remembering a victory of a righteous priestly deliverer and in the context of the Roman occupation that the Jews come to Jesus and say “if you are the Christ (Messiah), tell us plainly.”

It was during this season of remembering a victory of a righteous priestly deliverer and in the context of the Roman occupation that the Jews come to Jesus and say “if you are the Christ (Messiah), tell us plainly.” His response was beyond what they expected. They were looking for salvation from an earthly deliverer from earthly problems. Jesus spoke of eternal life and not being snatched from the Father’s hand and stated “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30). He was the Deliverer they were looking for, but for a life far beyond the earthly troubles. While being fully engaged in this world, there is another world that we are a part of.

Jesus was celebrating with Israel the rededication of Temple and returning to God. He spoke of knowing His sheep and following His voice on a feast that celebrated the re-dedication of the Temple and the return to the Torah. From its inception, the “feast of dedication” is a time and season for rededication to God.

In this season of the miracle of lights, may the Light of the World ignite our hearts again. May His miracle be in us as He keeps our light ablaze for Him. We can be sure that Jesus will be at any celebration that ignites our hearts and focuses on rededication to God.

Doug Hershey
Doug Hershey is an author, conference speaker, and expeditions leader of Ezra Adventures. For more information, visit www.EzraAdventures.com. Doug enjoys thick Turkish coffee with baklava, darbukas and Sheba, his motorcycle.
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