As we come to the conclusion of the celebration of Hanukkah this year, I wanted to write about something that struck me as very interesting. I was reading about how Hanukkah is actually mentioned in the New Testament over in John 10:22 – “And it was the feast of dedication (Hanukkah), and it was winter.” Well, the part that struck me as interesting about this is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was in the Temple during the observation of Hanukkah, along with the Jewish priests and religious leaders. As Margaret points out in her comment on this article I was reading, this was supposed to be an occasion of celebration and the religious leaders used it as a time to confront the Lord Jesus and attack Him.
Erected in the Temple stood a Menorah, a candelabrum containing nine branches, one for each day of the celebration plus an additional branch called a Shamash. Each day, an additional candle would be lit to commemorate the miraculous provision of God during the eight day re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. As the story goes, there was only enough olive oil on hand to keep the flame in the Temple burning for one day, yet God caused it to burn for eight days until more oil could be pressed and prepared for service.
In light of this, the image of the Jewish leaders taking up stones against the Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:31) is really quite ironic. They are commemorating a time when God provided light for them in the Temple, yet they are seeking to snuff out the Light of the world. They are commemorating how God made a day’s worth of olive oil last eight days, but they are seeking to destroy the One Who had the power to anoint them with the everlasting Oil that is the Holy Spirit. They are rejoicing over a lamp (menorah) made with human hands, all the while seeking to extinguish the Lamp that God has provided them. They were busy celebrating the feast of Hanukkah, and rejected the very One Whom they claimed to be honoring!
The story has been told of a woman to whom the Lord Jesus appeared in a dream saying, “Get ready, for tomorrow I shall come to visit you at your house.” The woman awoke the next morning, very excited about the Lord’s promised visit to her. She began to clean and straighten her home and prepare a huge banquet for her coming Guest of Honor. As she made preparations, a blind beggar appeared at her door, asking if she might have something to spare for him.
“I am terribly sorry, but I haven’t anything to give to you”, she responded, “I have a very important Guest coming today and I must keep what I have for Him.”
She began to tend to her work again, making preparations for the Lord to arrive. A little later, another knock came at the door. This time, a small girl stood outside who was lost and asked if she would help her to find her mother.
“I am sorry, but I haven’t any time to spare, child. I have a very important Guest coming soon and I must get things prepared for Him”, she answered.
As the afternoon wore on, the woman was putting the finishing touches on her feast when a knock came again at her door. She ran to answer it, knowing that this had to be the Lord Jesus this time. But on the other side of the door was only a very old woman in very old and ragged clothes.
“I was walking by and smelled the food coming from your house. It smells wonderful, would you happen to have enough for me to come in and have some?”, the old woman asked.
“No, I am very sorry, but I have a special Guest coming soon and I must be sure there is enough for Him”, she replied, not wanting this ragged old woman to ruin all of her hard work.
She returned to her kitchen and made herself busy in excited anticipation, knowing that the Lord should be coming any time. But the hours passed by, and still the Lord did not show up. Finally, it grew very late and the disappointed woman headed for her bed.
“I don’t understand, Lord”, she prayed, “You promised that You were going to come to my house today, why didn’t you show up?”
“Three times I came to your door today”, He replied, “And each time you sent Me away.”
While the Jewish leaders were at the Temple, commemorating Hanukkah, God showed up in the flesh and they did not recognize Him. Instead, they sought to destroy Him! He has a way of showing up in the lives of people when they least expect Him to. Sadly, many are busily going about their lives, claiming to be serving Him, but they do not even recognize Him when He comes. I wonder what would happen at so many houses this Christmas if the Lord Jesus did in fact show up? Would He be welcomed as the Guest of Honor that He is, or would He be turned away or even attacked because they failed to recognize Him?