Ahhhh….Hanukkah! One of the most joyous times on the Hebrew calendar. Though Hanukkah is not a Biblical feast, we know that Jesus and his family celebrated the joyous occasion. John 10:22-23 tells us Jesus walked in Solomon’s porch in the Temple on the Feast of Dedication (an ancient name of Hanukkah).
Often Hanukkah is associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas, as each happen in the winter (usually December) and involve joyous gift-giving, time with family and wonderful food. However, the two are really not related in the sense of what is initially thought. The Feast of Dedication is the celebration and remembrance of the restoration of the Temple after Greek desecration. That is purely a Jewish thing, and the birth of Christ is purely a Christian thing.
Yet, God in His unique sovereignty has woven the two together beautifully! Jesus (a Jew!) celebrated Hanukkah because the Temple was certainly meaningful to Him, as it was for all Jewish people. But the deity of Jesus was certainly on display as He strolled through Solomon’s portico!
The following verses of John 10 describe a crowd circling around Him, seemingly goading Him to declare Himself the Christ. His response:
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”~John 10:25-30
“Ah-ha,” they thought. “We just caught Him declaring Himself to be one with the Father. He thinks He is God!” At that, they accused Him of blasphemy and took up stones to stone Him. But He disappeared from their midst.
Interestingly, several times in the book of John, Jesus referred to Himself as the Light of the world. (John 8:12, John 9:5, John 12:46) All were in the city of Jerusalem, and around the time of the Feast of Dedication. This is no coincidence! The primary feature of Hanukkah is the menorah, and Jewish tradition says that, when the Temple was restored and the menorah (golden lampstand) was put back in place, a miracle occurred. Only one day’s worth of oil kept the lamps burning for 8 days! Thus, the 8-day celebration of Hanukkah.
More significantly, Jesus, using the backdrop of Jewish tradition which emphasizes the light source, declared Himself to be the Light of the world! The Jews would have clearly understood He was making reference to the menorah!
Indeed, Jesus is the menorah, neatly tying the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah to Jesus our Savior, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas! Only God could weave together the two in such wonder and grace!
In Jerusalem, a brand new golden menorah was recently placed at the Western Wall, just in time for Hanukkah to commence (this past Sunday)! Check out the new menorah here, and read more about Hanukkah here, then enjoy a few fun things about Hanukkah in the next few days as the 8-day Jewish celebration continues.