Today marks the beginning of Hanukkah, a holiday celebrated by the Jewish people that commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the successful rebellion of the Maccabees against the oppressive Greeks.
Also known as Chanukah or the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is sometimes believed by Christians to be an Old Testament holiday; however, it transpired closer to the time of Christ’s mortal life, specifically during the Intertestamental period.
This begs the question—did Jesus celebrate Hanukkah? Is there evidence of it in the Bible? The answer to both is yes! Taking a closer look at these questions can help us understand how Jesus Christ is the light of our world and embodies the principles honored at Hanukkah.
The only mention of Hanukkah in the Bible is found in John 10:22. It reads:
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
The Feast of the Dedication is another name for Hanukkah because it celebrates the rededication of the temple after it was reclaimed. From this verse, and those that follow it, we know that Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the holiday. Verses 23 and 24 read:
And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to ? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Jesus then goes on to testify that “I and my Father are one” and that He is the Son of God. He said the people could tell He was the Son of God because He did the works of His Father. Many wanted to stone Him and Christ escaped “beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized.”
Though we can’t know an exact timeline of Christ’s ministry, it is interesting to note that just a few chapters before the mention of Hanukkah, He gave a great sermon on being the light of the world.
He had just forgiven the woman taken in adultery, and was surrounded by a crowd. Jesus said:
I am theof the world: he that followeth me shall not in , but shall have the light of life.
Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights in part because of the miracle of the cruse of oil. After rededicating the temple, the Jews only had one cruse of oil to light the Menorah. However, the oil lasted eight nights.
Today, lighting the menorah is a sacred tradition during Hanukkah. Placing this testimony of the Savior so close the holiday is a reminder that He is our miracle of light.