Written by my friend Aaron Gann, reproduced here with permission.
Tonight on the seventh night of Hanukkah, let us focus on our Lord and Saviour Yeshua, the Servant of The Lord, and the Light of the World.
Throughout much of history, Hanukkah has been seen as a Jewish holiday. Something that belongs only to Judaism and has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity for that matter. Thought often comes down to the fact that the Jews celebrate Hanukkah, while we Christians celebrate Christmas, and they often stand in stark contrast to one another. However as we have seen this week, Hanukkah has EVERYTHING to do with Messiah. Without Hanukkah, we wouldn’t even have Christmas, as there would not have been an Israel for Yeshua to be born into.
Ironically this holiday, while being the most popular of the Jewish celebrations, is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Covenant scriptures. The events are foretold in the book of Daniel and described in detail, however the holiday itself of Hanukkah is nowhere to be found. Even in what we would call the apocryphal books of Maccabees, it merely tells the story. However it IS mentioned in the Christian Scriptures, and so if one is going to be technical about what is what, then the scriptural authentication of the Hanukkah lies only in the books written of the New Covenant.
The passage in question is found in the Besorah (Gospel) of John chapter 10 verses 22-23 and which we read,
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.
Remember that Hanukkah means “Dedication” and so Yeshua was in Jerusalem during the feast of Hanukkah. During one of these eight nights Yeshua was walking in the Temple compound, specifically in Solomon’s Porch, an area that many believe was in the eastern section. However He was not alone for the passage continues,
The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
For the past few months, Yeshua had been doing just that. He had been traveling from synagogue to synagogue, proclaiming Himself to be the Messiah. Not only sending out His disciples with the good news of the Messianic Kingdom that would soon be at hand. He also has been Himself teaching, as One having His own authority and not on the basis of previous rabbinic sages. If that was not enough, He also had been healing the sick, curing the lame and casting out demons, works that should have at the very least rendered Him a great prophet. He even went so far as to perform special miracles that the Pharisees taught only the Messiah would be able to do. Yet these particular people still asked Him if He was the Messiah, because they would not simply believe on Him. Yeshua replies in this vein stating,
…I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.
With this He begins His sermon to them, He says that He has ALREADY told them, and that the works that He has been doing are the testimony that what He says is true. However He does not stop there, instead He targets the real problem, not that His signs are simply not enough, rather because they lack faith in Him, and until then they will never believe. Continuing on He says,
But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
Keep in mind that this was during the feast of Hanukkah, and as they tell the story they would undoubtedly remember that during that time the Jewish people were divided over the issue of Hellenization (an issue that was still ongoing due to the Sadducees). And so He begins to make a distinction, those that would trust Him as their Shepherd, and those that do not. For the ones who trusted Him recognized who He was, while the rest questioned Him and stood in opposition. He then goes on to state that those who have already placed their trust in Him, would be kept safe by Him, that He was the good shepherd who gives to His sheep eternal life. That they would not be able to be snatched out of His hand, because His Father had given them to Him, and His Father was greater than all, and that He Himself was the same as the Father. That He was God Himself. Now in answer to their accusations of He being obscure, He has now said a very clear bold statement, He and the Father are One.
They then begin to pick up stones in order to execute Him, for what they hear from His lips is a blasphemous statement, because they do not recognize Him for who He is. When He asks for what work are they doing this, they reply not because of a good work, but because He made himself to be God. He forced them to make a choice, and so they chose to reject Him as their shepherd. He then goes on to defend Himself in a very Rabbinic way,
“Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
He makes His point by saying that if the Judges themselves could be called gods by God, who were incredibly wicked, how can they claim that by He saying that He was the Son of God, called and sanctified by Him, that He was blaspheming.
If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.
He goes back to His first point, that He does the works of His Father, and that these works are themselves a testimony to His Messianic claims, and that if they cannot simply believe on Him, then believe in His works so that they may be led to Him. They would understand that He and the Father were One and the Same.
Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.
Sadly, as John wrote in the beginning of His gospel, (John 1:11) “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him”. Though there was, and still is a believing remnant, many of His own people ultimately rejected Him as their Messiah, and continue to till this very day.
Tonight as we stare at the lights, let us reflect on what it means to be His sheep, to truly say in our heart, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”. What it means to truly rely upon Him and to follow Him, trusting in the works that He has performed not only in the world, but in our own personal lives. Tonight let us also pray for the world, that they may see the Light of the World, that those who are blinded, their eyes may be opened. Let us also focus specifically for a time, though the rest of the world is in need of a Messiah as well, upon the Jewish people. For they had become like sheep without a shepherd, still holding onto that Messianic hope.