What holiday did Jesus celebrate this time of year?
Jesus lived in a Jewish culture rich with biblical history and tradition. In order to appreciate the holiday Jesus celebrated at this time of year, you will need to understand the historical events that lead to this time being commemorated by subsequent generations.
What is the History of the Feast of Lights?
The final events recorded in the Old Testament, chronologically, involve Nehemiah returning to Judah to rebuild the wall and gates of Jerusalem. Then about 400 years elapsed between the last events recorded in the Old Testament the first events of the New Testament. Some of the events that took place during the intertestamental period are recorded in extra-biblical literature such as the book of Maccabees. During this time, the land of Israel, called Judea and Samaria, was ruled by a variety of countries.
One of those rulers were the Seleucid Empire. Under the leadership of Antiochus IV, Jews were forced to conform to the Greek way of life in thought and religious practice. Under penalty of death, the Jews were not allowed to worship on the Sabbath, study the Bible, circumcise their sons, or keep the dietary laws. As further evidence of his power, Antiochus defiled the Temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing a pig on the altar. Since pigs are considered an unclean animal, this sacrifice was forbidden under God’s law. Although many Jews conformed to the Greek influence, there were many faithful men and women who refused to disobey God’s Word.
One family, the Hasmoneans, defied Antiochus and began a rebellion. Eventually, this rebellion resulted in the evictions of the Greek invaders from Judea and Samaria. One of the first things the Maccabees did after defeating the Greeks was to cleanse and rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem.
Once the Temple was cleansed, they need to light the Lampstand or Menorah in the Holy Place. However, the priest only found enough sanctified oil to last for one day in the Menorah. The sanctification process for the oil took seven days. The priest lit the Menorah with the oil he had and miraculously that small amount of oil lasted eight days until the new supply of oil was ready. Since that time, the commemoration of this miracle takes place for eight days.
Did Jesus Celebrate the Feast of Lights?
Several decades later the Bible describes that Jesus celebrated the Feast of Lights. The Apostle John was careful to record biblical holy days in the Gospel account.
Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. John 10:22-23 NKJV
What is the Feast of Lights called Today?
The translation of the Gospel of John uses the name Feast of Dedication but it is known in Messianic and Jewish circles today as Hanukah.
When is the Feast of Lights Celebrated?
Jesus celebrated this holiday from Kislev 25 to Tevet 3 on the Biblical Calendar.
This year, on the modern calendar, the dates for the Feast of Lights is sundown on December 22 to sundown on December 30.
How is the Feast of Lights celebrated today?
The Feast of Lights is celebrated by using a special nine branch candle holder, known as the Hanukkiah.
One candle is used to light the others and it is known as the Servant Candle. Each night one new candle is lit, and all the previous candles until all eight are shining.
Traditionally, the Hanukkiah was placed close to the street or window so the light would shine out into a dark world.
Jesus celebrated the Feast of Lights. Today, we can celebrate this wonderful holiday, remembering that Jesus came as the Light of the World! As we light candles this year, let it be a reminder to be alight, in our dark world.
May God richly bless you as we celebrate the coming of Jesus and look forward to His return!