The Feast of Chanuk
On a blustery winter day Jesus walked in solitude through the temple courtyard in Jerusalem. His thoughts may have been occupied with the events leading up to this wintery feast He was about to participate in. Nearly two hundred years prior, Antiochus Epiphanes attempted to remove all traces of Judaism by desecrating the Holy Temple of the Lord with heathen idols, outlawing the practice of circumcision (upon the pain of death), and offering up swine on the altar of sacrifice. The Maccabean family had all they could take, and revolution ensued. After six years of war, Israel, victorious, once again secured it’s independence. The Holy Temple of the Lord was purified and cleansed. The Holy utensils were replaced and on the 25th of Chislev (December) the candelabra was lit as part of the dedication ceremony. With only enough oil to last one day, the menorah stayed lit for eight days, thus providing the Jews a miraculous confirmation that their God would once again protect and provide for them. This is the feast at which Jesus walked the cold and windy courtyards of the Temple in solemn meditation. Maybe He was thinking of the victory two hundred years before and the reason for this happy feast. Maybe He was mentally preparing for a victory of another kind and the intimate feast He would inaugurate with His own blood. Regardless, John 10:22 records what happened next. They surrounded Him, they cornered Him, demanding to hear it from His own lips, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” . Are you the Messiah or not? Tell us!!
The world is in great confusion over this question, even today. Many believe or at least recognize that Jesus is an important figure in world history, some acknowledge His holy life style and teaching, others just plain reject the notion that He is real at all. The pharisees of the day truly believed that Messiah was coming but they could not begin to think He would come from Nazareth, or from a common woman and her carpenter husband. Obviously the miracles He performed must have been some kind of trick, the work of the devil, or misunderstandings. Rejectors of Jesus will attempt to invalidate who He is anyway possible. Sleighs, red suits, trees, ornaments, reindeer and the like are included. The one remote connection with the life of Christ we have here, are the lights. Jesus celebrated the feast of the dedication of the Temple which included the lighting of the menorah candles. We are not surprised given the respect and love Jesus had for the Temple. So, when you turn on your ‘lights’ this year, be ready to tell the world “plainly”, Jesus is the Messiah, the light of the world. Happy Hanukah.