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Is Jesus Welcome?

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?

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6 responses

  1. I still have goosebumps. I sat upright when I read “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.”

    I’m serious, I’m just reading along on your post and then I read that. They were blind to what they were doing.

    What an EXCELLENT but sad observation.

    Thank you for this post. I think it’s going to be one of those posts that will really stick with me for a long time.

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  2. Loren,

    Thank you so much for bringing out the details — those things that would be what God wants us to see in this incident….. The love of God is so violently rejected in this world — and not just by “unbelievers”, but by the so-called “religious” people, who boast about “knowing” God….. It’s being blind, but not knowing one’s own blindness.

    The pride of the people loves to keep tradition because it makes them so comfortable and self-righteous….. But, just observing tradition has nothing to do with walking humbly with the one and only true God and Savior….. We have so many reasons to be humbled and no reason to be proud.

    This Hanukkah incident has so many lessons in it….. Thank you, again.

    Margaret

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  3. THAT WAS SO VERY TOUCHING!! MY GOD! IT’S SO TRUE WE OFTEN OVERLOOK JESUS WHILE DOING THIS AND THAT, IN HIS NAME AND NOT EVEN RECOGNIZING HIM,HOW SAD. GOD PLEASE HELP US TO STOP MOVING SO MUCH DOING STUFF AND JUST LISTEN TO YOU SO THAT WE DO YOUR WILL.LOREN I TRULY ENJOYED YOUR POST THANKS FOR SHARING AND “HAPPY HANUKKAH”.

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  4. “GOD PLEASE HELP US TO STOP MOVING SO MUCH DOING STUFF AND JUST LISTEN TO YOU SO THAT WE DO YOUR WILL.”

    -Amen, Pat, amen.

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  5. “The pride of the people loves to keep tradition because it makes them so comfortable and self-righteous”

    I am glad that you mentioned this, Margaret. You are absolutely right and you have added some great points in your comment. This reminds me of something I noticed when considering this whole incident of our Lord in the Temple at Hanukkah:

    In the Law of Moses, the Lord defined seven religious feasts that the people were to observe each year (Leviticus 23). These were feasts that the Lord Himself marked out and instructed for the people to observe. The observance of Hanukkah is never prescribed in the Law of Moses or anywhere else in the Old Testament. It was rather a tradition to celebrate it, passed down under Rabbinic authority, not Scriptural.

    I do not mean to suggest that the people were wrong to celebrate Hanukkah; reverencing God through traditional observances can be very commendable. But it seems that we normally get into trouble not when we are following the clear directions of the Word of God, but when we are following traditions that have arisen apart from it.

    There is a danger when we become focused so much on our own traditions that we entirely miss what God is doing.

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  6. Thank you, Tishrei, for sharing your comments on this post. And thank you for writing the excellent post about Hanukkah in the New Testament that got me thinking about all this.

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