The Miracles, Mysteries and Histories of Hanukkah | Part 6
Yeshua, The Greatest Miracle Of All
Welcome back for Part 6 of The Miracles, Mysteries and Histories of Hanukkah!
Hanukkah not only points us to Yeshua as the Light of the World, and as the Shamash, as we discovered in Part 5, but we can also glean from John's Gospel additional insights as to how Yeshua Himself may have viewed this special time. Let's take a look at John 10 together.
In John 10:22-23, we learn that the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) was taking place in Jerusalem, and that Yeshua was there "walking in the Temple Complex in Solomon's Colonnade." We're then told that the Jews requested that Yeshua put an end to their suspense: was He the Messiah, or not? They wanted Him to "tell [them] plainly."
Yeshua responds to his onlookers by telling them that, what they desire to know, He's been telling them all along. In fact, He'll declare, His very works attest to the validity of His claims to Divine Sonship and, therefore, of Deity. But more on that shortly...
Those hearers of Yeshua were more than likely very familiar with the prophecies of Ezekiel 34, a passage in which false shepherds are being denounced while promises of a Good Shepherd who will come to rescue God's flock are being offered. So how does that relate to Hanukkah?
Well, remember the reason why the war between the Jews and Greeks was different from most other wars? The issue was not one primarily about territory, but about identity! The Jews were being threatened with the complete eradication of all that made them a "peculiar people," a nation set apart by God to show the world the holiness of Yahweh. And while "good shepherds" like Judah the Hammer did rise up, others--namely,
men like Jason and Menelaus [who had been appointed High Priest in direct defiance of the Torah's commands that only those from Aaron's line be granted that office] and the other nobility who were ready for a new era in Israel. They were ready to lead their people into the life of the polis, the Greek urban ideal. Jerusalem was to be called Antiochia and many priests were in training for the nude Olympic games of the Greeks, abandoning their priestly duties. They were eager to see an end to circumcision and wanted at least some kind of syncretism between Olympian Zeus and the God of Israel, if not the eradication of the worship of Israel’s God altogether. (Derek Leman)
Though some generations had passed between the days of Jason and Menelaus and the time that Yeshua spoke His words at Hanukkah, there still remained a corrupting influence among the so-called "shepherds of Israel." Among these were the Sadducees, who appear frequently in the gospels as antagonists of Yeshua and His followers, and who along with "the whole [Jewish] aristocracy...held the population under its thumb while colluding with Rome" (Leman).
Then comes Yeshua, announcing that at long last a "good shepherd" has arrived, who will "lay down [His] life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15). And this shepherd, in keeping with the promises of God found in Ezekiel 34:11-13, will gather sheep together not only from the fold of Israel, but from all nations! Together these sheep from Israel and the nations will constitute "one flock" under "one shepherd" (10:16). Most astonishingly, this shepherd who lays down His life on His own accord will assume his divine right to take it up again! (John 10:18)
As was often the case, these outrageous claims of Yeshua evoked some strong accusations: "Either this man is lying, or he is an outright lunatic, a demon-possessed one at that" (see vv. 19-21). The only other possible conclusion: He is Messiah and Lord! And that is the question posed to Yeshua in verse 24: "Tell us plainly...who are you?"
Then, in the midst of this season of Hanukkah in which the miraculous works of God on Israel's behalf are being recounted,Yeshua directs His questioners primarily to one thing: His own miraculous works.
"The works that I do in my Father's name testify about me..." (v. 25b)
In response to His claim to Oneness with the Father (v. 30), the Jews picked up stones to hurl at Yeshua. "Yeshua replied, 'I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning me for?'" (v. 32)
Yeshua's would-be stoners then try to assure Him that it was not because of His works that they attempted this assault, "but for blasphemy, because You--being a man--make Yourself God" (v. 33).
The final words of this confrontation came from Yeshua. Masterfully, the Messiah silenced His accusers with the following question and admonishment:
...do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the One the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God? If I am not doing My Father’s works, don’t believe Me. But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father” (vv. 36-38).
In a season where [we] talk of the miracles of the days of the Maccabees, Yeshua says his miracles should be speaking to [us]. And he not only is sent by God, but if [we] can handle the truth, he is one with God.
The signs of the Good Shepherd are now not as easy to see, being far removed. Yet the memory lives on and in particular the raising of Yeshua from the tomb speaks loudly for sheep ready to hear his voice. He did lay his life down for the flock of Israel and it did not stop the senseless hatred which led to the Temple’s destruction. But Yeshua’s act as Good Shepherd did create within the people of Israel and within the people of the nations a remnant. There is one flock worldwide, painfully divided by petty things, and yet, united in things that matter more. And the fold of the nations is large while the fold of Israel is small. Yet it will not always be so. As Ezekiel said, the One Shepherd will lead his flock as David returned. “You are my sheep, [Israel], the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, says the Lord God.” (Derek Leman)
Hallelujah! Let us all rejoice in Yeshua, our Good Shepherd and Mighty God, during the Hanukkah season!