We don’t know for sure Jesus was born on Christmas Day, or even around that time. But the Christmas Season is identified once in the New Testament. It wasn’t called Christmas; it was called the Feast of Dedication, alias Hannukah.
I find it to be significant what Jesus talked about at this feast. Not so much because of his message, but because of the context of all that Jesus previously taught, and particularly his timing. We have a disadvantage to see all this through their eyes, when we know the ending before it all began. This brief overview of Messianic revelations is an attempt to get you to grasp the context I’m driving at through their eyes.
HARMONIZING THE GOSPELS
There aren’t enough details to harmonize the gospels with 100% certainty. Particularly because chronology wasn’t as important to the ancient Jews as it tends to be with us. Topics were sometimes (or often) grouped by similarities and even contrasts. But we can draw some conclusions with certainty, and others with some reasonable confidence. I’ll be using such an attempt to harmonize the gospels, printed in the back of my Bible, to chronicle Christ’s revelations about himself.
Again, Christ’s contemporaries couldn’t imagine how all their Messianic promises would apply to one person. Remember my blog about Jesus calling himself the Son of Man? In one of my documentary links, Jesus didn’t privately admit to even his disciples he was the Messiah, until he spoke with Simon Peter in Matthew 16:13-20. We need to back up more to get how progressive revelation was used by God.
STARTING WITH JOHN THE BAPTIST
Jewish Messianic expectations shows how the Kingdom of God/Heaven connects with their long-awaited Messiah. John the Baptist starts his message that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, there’s a need for repentance, and he gave hope their Messiah was soon to be revealed.
Next, John baptizes Jesus and a voice from Heaven declares he’s God’s Son, with whom God is well pleased. Then Jesus is tempted and comes back, John the Baptist announces Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus accepts then commands the position of “rabbi” with a few disciples.
PARAMETERS FOR CHRIST’S MINISTRY
My study on Christ’s supernatural knowledge showed he didn’t flaunt his supernatural knowledge but used it freely when beneficial. He focused primarily on advancing others’ knowledge of his kingdom knowing this would simultaneously prove he was the Promised One, for any who wanted the truth. Within and because of these parameters, he freely offered miracles while confronting the sin of their religious leaders.
Starting with the miracle in Cana, he next confronted the corruption in the temple. In response to this first public confrontation, he offered his first hint of his death and resurrection.
Sometimes people are so extremely good at something or other, they dazzle us. Jesus outshone them all from the beginning. But Jesus rested with the Father who allowed the majority to harden. As Jesus still does today.
REVELATIONS BUILDING ON REVELATIONS
Jesus taught Nicodemus that the Son of Man must be lifted up. Then John the Baptist says that Jesus was from above, is above all, and that believing in him gives eternal life.
Christ tells the Samaritans first that he is the Messiah. After last week’s blog, you may see why Jesus thought the “ground seemed more fertile” there, in some ways. It seems next Jesus was rejected in Nazareth for teaching no prophet is accepted in his hometown, implying he would soon be received by the gentiles.
Jesus healed numerous people and taught many things. But now, focusing on the significance of Hanukkah mentioned in John, I now narrow my focus. This means focusing on the clashes with the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath. He healed lots, but always it was the Sabbath healings that would anger the religious leaders because of their traditions. Here Jesus claims, since the Father works on the Sabbath, Jesus will work on the Sabbath, making him equal with the Father. They started trying to kill him.
It may seem understandable that when Jesus claims to be one with the Father at the Feast of Dedication, it sounds too much like blasphemy. Because it is too hard to conceive of God as 3 persons. At least, with the gentiles claiming their gods can take on the form of humans sometimes, it seemed too much like this heresy. But even Genesis 1:26 and 3:22 makes it’s clear God is more than one person. And it shows Christ’s passion for truth, at any cost. A passion we need to cultivate.
Thank God for Christ’s passion for truth. Pray for more of this passion.
The above pictures are from what Hanukkah celebrates and Solomon’s portico