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.
- John 10:22-23
Yesterday morning I spoke at a nearby Lutheran Church about Chanukah and it’s relevance to Christians. I told them the story of Chanukah found in the books of the Maccabees. I explained to them the traditions that we keep during Chanukah—foods, songs, games, etc… and then I gave them two reasons why we, as Christians, should celebrate Chanukah. Here’s what I said:
Reason #1 – Without Chanukah, there wouldn’t be Christmas.
Antiochus was attempting to wipe out the Jewish people through spiritual genocide by forcing them to abandon God and His Law, adopt Hellenism and assimilate to Greek culture. If he had succeeded the Jewish people would have ceased to exist and the Jewish Messiah would not have been born. But by the providence of God, Antiochus’ plan to conquer the world was thwarted. The Jews recaptured the Temple and Israel and 150 years later, Jesus Christ was born.
Reason #2 – Jesus celebrated Chanukah.
In the Gospels we typically find Jesus up in the area of the Galilee. This is where He spent the majority of His time during His 3-year ministry. When we find Him down in Jerusalem, it’s usually on one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals; Passover, Pentecost or Booths. But in John 10:22-23 we find that Jesus made the 3-day journey from Galilee to Jerusalem in the winter to be in the Temple on Chanukah. As disciples who aim to be like Jesus, we should take note that He took the time and made the effort to recognize this minor holiday. So, in the winter we should ask ourselves “What Would Jesus Do?” The answer is “Celebrate Chanukah.”
When they learned that Chanukah was mentioned in the Gospel of John, the expressions on the faces of those in the class was priceless. Everyone in the class was mature in age and in faith. They were all very excited to learn something new; something they had not seen before or considered. I hope next year they will all remember Chanukah and it’s relevance in our lives as disciples of Jesus.
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