John 10:22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Today marks the beginning of an important feast in the nation of Israel. It is not one of the seven feasts commanded by God. This feast of Hanukkah (feast of lights) has its beginnings in 167 B.C. In modern writings this date would be noted as 167 BCE. BCE is an abbreviation for “before the common era”. It is a term that has been developed to take away the importance of acknowledging the importance of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our writings and in our church we reject this abbreviation and choose to honour God by referring to the Old Testament time as B.C. which stands for “before Christ”.
The reason for this feast was to celebrate a victory that the Jews won over the Syrian-Greek government of that day. The Syrians had a wicked king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He had Greek blood in him and ruled over the territory of Israel at that time. He was a type of the antichrist. He defiled the temple by setting up an image of Zeus in the temple and offering pigs on the altar in the temple. He also declared himself to be a god.
There was a priest named Mattathias Maccabeus who refused to bow to this wicked king’s demands to make an abominable offering on the altar. There was a false priest present who bowed to this king and offered a pig on the altar. Mattathias took a sword and killed that priest and then his sons joined him in killing all the soldiers that came with that evil order. This was the beginning of the revolt and it began with a victory which made Mattathias the leader of a rebellion against this ungodly ruler and his soldiers. He led his followers in using guerrilla warfare to weaken the Syrian army. Mattathias was an old man and he died about one year into this rebellion. He passed his leadership on to his son Judah before he died. Judah was a very skillful strategist who led his followers in continued guerrilla warfare and then open war against the Syrians. He earned the name Maccabee which means “hammer”. He and his followers were successful in overthrowing the government at that time in Jerusalem. After their victory, they went into the temple and cleansed it and offered an appropriate sacrifice on the altar and “rededicated” it and the temple to God. It took them eight days to go through their rituals of purifying the temple. During that time they had a Menorah burning for light. The story goes that they only had enough pure oil to fuel that light for one day, but miraculously it lasted the full eight days. It took eight days to be able to make a new batch of oil that was suitable for use in the temple. There is some doubt as to the truthfulness of this story since it is only found in the Talmud, which consists of oral traditions of the Jews. Thus the event’s validity is questioned by some.
The timing of this feast is set by the Jews with observation of the moon and the sun. Thus its celebration is different every year. This year it begins today, December 18 and runs through to December 26.
In John 10:22 we find John was directed to mention that Jesus was in Jerusalem during the time of this “feast of the dedication”. This is a name that was given to this feast. The word “Hanukkah” means “dedication. It does not tell us in our text that Jesus kept the entirety of the feast. Jewish tradition tells us that it was a time of games, singing and plenty of food. The nature of this event would not be something that the Lord Jesus Christ would join in with. The text simply tells us that He was in Jerusalem during this time and that He was in Solomon’s porch.
Solomon’s porch was the one portion of the first temple that was not destroyed when the Babylonians destroyed the temple. We also note here that it was winter time.
It is interesting to note that John did not record anything here about the Jews being particularly excited about this feast. They did not ask Jesus what He thought of it or anything. They just zeroed in on their usual tactic of attacking Him. They found a multitude of things they would use to attack Him. How sad that rather than learn of Him, they wanted to discredit Him in any way they could. Their traditions superseded the truth.
Their accusation at this time was that Jesus was withholding critical information from them. Yet as we will see as He answered them, they wanted to kill Him for telling them the truth. Wicked people prove their wickedness over and over again.
The Jews accused Jesus of not speaking plainly to them about whether He was the Christ. The word “Christ” means “anointed” and is a reference to the Messiah.
Jesus’ response to them was that He had already told them, but they chose not to believe Him. This is the same problem for lost people today. It is not that the Word of God is not clear enough. It is that it is too clear and they do not like what it says.
There is a report that the government of the UK had to admit that it was wrong for one of their prosecutors to state that the Bible was offensive and inappropriate. They were trying to find a preacher guilty of hate speech. They lost the case and then were told that the prosecutor had been out of line in the charge she had made. The Bible is offensive to the lost. However, the Bible is God’s Word, and man’s sin is an offence to Him. That is of far greater consequence than that the Word of God would offend some lost person.
The Bible addresses every need that man has. It also points out every sin that man commits. It shows us that the only solution is for man to repent toward God and to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Jesus pointed out that the works that He did in His Father’s name, bore witness of Who He was. The Jews knew that Jesus’ works were not the works of man. They could not do the works that He did. They tried to accuse Him of working under the power of the devil, but that did not work. The blind man in John 9 exposed them for their unbelief. He was cast out of the synagogue, but he was blessed in being introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. He believed in Him.
In verse 25 Jesus pointed out that the reason these Jews did not believe Him was because they were not of His sheep. They did not want to come under the authority of the Good Shepherd. They rejected Him as their Shepherd. Those who reject God cannot believe His Word. Jesus Christ is the second person of the Godhead and to reject Him is the same as rejecting the Father.
Today is the Lord’s Day. It is another opportunity to be in the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth. We trust you will go to a good church today where you can be fed the truth. Don’t miss out on the blessing of the Lord.