First Day — I’m doing Hanukkah this year. Here’s why:
In the writings of the New Testament, Hanukkah is called ‘The Feast of Dedication,” and is the backdrop for a few of Jesus’ most striking declarations.
John’s gospel in chapter 10 reads:
“Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’” (John 10:22–24)
Understanding context of Yeshua’s words against the backdrop of the celebration of Hanukkah can give us further insight their meaning. For example,
“The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me.”
The works that Father had done 170 years earlier in granting victory over the Seleucid Empire’s religious persecution, cultural domination, and pagan defilement was certainly at the forefront of the minds of those gathered for this celebration. It is after all, what Hanukkah is all about and why they were gathered. That Jesus would reference ‘works,’ done in his Father’s name would be to connect himself by direct reference.
The Jews would probably have eagerly accepted Jesus as Messiah if he had been ready to take up the role of a political leader, especially during this ‘charged’ gathering, but that was not his purpose. The Jews in attendance said,
“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
They understood the associations Jesus was making. He goes on and says,
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.
What a bold and powerful statement delivered to those gathered for Hanukkah! Messiah was answering their question plainly without answering their question plainly in true Messiah-esque fashion.
For me, celebrating Hanukkah this year will be about rededication and remaining faithful to Father’s call. It will be about triumphing over paganism and pluralism and shinning brightly to the many nations represented by my neighbors. Follow along with me over the next 7 days as I work through all that Yeshua taught during the Festival of lights / Feast of Dedication / Hanukkah.