Christmas Meets Chanukah
CHANUKAH WILL BE IN FULL CELEBRATION & CHRISTMAS IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER...
Hanukah and Christmas are both celebrated every December around the globe.
What is the Christian response to Hanukah, or the re-dedication of the Jewish temple? Do we recognize or ignore it as foreign? Is the Miracle of lights something the Christian should take part in? Let us consider the following:
During the Celebration of Dedication, Jesus was there in the temple (John 10). The religious leaders confronted him about his radical claims to have a connection with God the Father…“ They were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter. Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon's Porch. The Jews, circling him, said, "How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you're the Messiah, tell us straight out." (John 10). They demanded to know the truth!
Some called Him ‘crazy’ others supported Him wholeheartedly. Many could not understand how this ‘man’ could proclaim to receive authority personally from God, all during the celebration of the dedication of the temple and Gods miraculous provision of light.
Historically Hanukah marks the ancient celebration, long before Jesus’ earthly birth. Spirited Jewish freedom fighters battled three years to regain the purity of the holy temple that had been lost to pagans. They eventually regained control and dedicated it back to its most sacred use. This is an awesome advent of God sized proportions. Additionally, God allowed the temple to remain lit some eight (8) nights after the oil was long gone, marking a miracle of light in the darkness.
Spiritually it is here in the temple, many years later where Jesus declared that “I and the Father are one heart and mind” (John 10:30). He proclaimed many others were coming; the Jew and the Gentile, the rich and the poor, the slave and the free.
“ You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd… ” (John 10:16, Message Version)
Solomon prophesized something very similar hundreds of years earlier during the dedication of this same temple…
“…And don't forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation. People are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonder-working power, who come to pray at this Temple. Listen from your home in heaven. Honor the prayers of the foreigner so that people all over the world will know who you are and what you're like and will live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do; so they'll know that you personally make this Temple that I've built what it is.” (I Kings 8:41-43, Message Version)
Chanukah poses a great opportunity to remember the miraculous provisions of God then and now. This is an opportunity to celebrate our connection to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Enjoying our grace and freedom. It is the dedication of His temple and miraculous light for all.