Keeping Christ in Hanukkak

Bible Book: John  10 : 22-31
Subject: Christmas; Hanukkak; Light of the World

Someone commented the other day that they went into a store where they were already putting up Christmas paraphernalia. That seems awfully early to be doing that in September! But every year as we approach the Christmas season, it is my desire that the commercialized aspects of the season do not overshadow the Christian aspects. We certainly should make it a priority to “keep Christ in Christmas.”

In the passage we’re looking at tonight, we have a time reference in verse 22 that tells us that it was the time of the year when the Jews celebrated “the Feast of Dedication,” or what is now called Hanukkah.

I read a funny little fictitious story today that said…

Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, it was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Hanukkah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years. While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Hanukkah was becoming prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, we’re told, the world will be able to enjoy consistently high-quality service during the Fifteen Days of Chrismukah, as the new holiday is being called. Massive layoffs are expected, with lords a-leaping and maids a-milking being the hardest hit. As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience. Also, instead of translating to “A great miracle happened there,” the message on the dreydl will be the more generic “Miraculous stuff happens.” In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts. One of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be Kosher. All sides appeared happy about this. A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that, were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Chanukah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the holiday market. Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance. He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of “Oy Vey, All Ye Faithful.”

What we have in this passage is a truer merging of these two celebrations as the Christ of Christmas comes to the Temple to celebrate Hanukkah.

Craig S. Keener wrote…

10:22. Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, was not a required pilgrimage festival, but the eight-day celebration of lights in the temple was beautiful, and many pious Jews from nearby Galilee would come to Jerusalem. It was the next festival after those immediately connected to the Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-10:21).

10:23. The outer part of the temple had porches on all four sides; the Royal Porch, on the south, had four rows of pillars. Solomon’s Porch was on the east side of the temple, with two rows of pillars (as on the west and north sides). The south portico was called Solomon’s because people thought that it contained remains of Solomon’s temple. Greek public buildings often included such porches, and they had long been a popular place for public lectures and discussions. It was cool in Jerusalem in winter, so people would be especially inclined to walk under the colonnades. (From the IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament)

A. T. Robertson said…

‎Clearly there is a considerable lapse between the events in John 10:22-39 and John 10:1-21, possibly nearly three months (from just after tabernacles John 7:37 to dedication John 10:22).

Albert Barnes said…

[The feast of the dedication] Literally, the feast of the renewing, or of the renovation. This feast was instituted by Judas Maccabaeus, in the year 164 B.C. The temple and city were taken by Antiochus Epiphanes in the year 167 B.C. He killed 40,000 inhabitants, and sold 40,000 more as slaves. In addition to this, he sacrificed a sow on the altar of burnt-offerings, and a broth being made of this, he sprinkled it all over the temple. The city and temple were recovered three years afterward by Judas Maccabaeus, and the temple was purified with great pomp and solemnity. The ceremony of purification continued through eight days, during which Judas presented magnificent victims, and celebrated the praise of God with hymns and psalms (Josephus, Ant., b. xii. ch. 11). “They decked, also, the forefront of the temple with crowns of gold and with shields, and the gates and chambers they renewed and hanged doors upon them:” 1 Maccabees 4:52-59. On this account it was called the feast of renovation or dedication. Josephus calls it the Feast of Lights, because the city was illuminated, as expressive of joy. The feast began on the 25th day of Chisleu, answering to the fifteenth day of December. The festival continued for eight days, with continued demonstrations of joy.

[It was winter] The feast was celebrated in the winter. The word here implies that it was cold and inclement, and it is given as a reason why he walked in Solomon’s porch.

The truths that Jesus shared the day that He walked into Solomon’s porch are such vital and important truths, that I would like to entitle the message tonight, “Keeping Christ in Hanukkah.” But really, the truths that He shared are vitally important in every season.

Let me highlight the fact that…

I. Jesus Spoke About An Absence Of Faith

(John 10:24–26)

A. Notice The Remark About Their Doubt

(John 10:24) 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.

A. T. Robertson explains this verse in a very capable way…

Came round about him ‎ekukloosan ‎‎auton‎. Aorist active indicative of ‎kuklooo‎, an old verb from ‎kuklos ‎ (cycle, circle). See Acts 14:20 for the circle of disciples around Paul when stoned. Evidently the hostile Jews cherished the memory of the stinging rebuke given them by Jesus when here last, particularly the allegory of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-19), in which he drew so sharply their own picture.

How long dost thou hold us in suspense? ‎heoos ‎‎pote ‎‎teen ‎‎psucheen ‎‎heemoon ‎‎aireis‎ ;). Literally, “Until when dost thou lift up our soul?” But what do they mean by this metaphor? ‎… We are left to the context to judge the precise meaning. Clearly the Jews mean to imply doubt and suspense. The next remark makes it clear.

They are literally saying, ‘You’ve left us hanging; we’re holding our breath waiting to find out; the matter is up in the air.’

doubt – Greek 142. airo, ah'ee-ro; a prim. verb; to lift; by impl. to take up or away; fig. to raise (the voice), keep in suspense (the mind); spec. to sail away (i.e. weigh anchor); by Heb. [comp. H5375] to expiate sin:--away with, bear (up), carry, lift up, loose, make to doubt, put away, remove, take (away, up).

Robertson continues…

Tell us plainly. ‎ The point is in “plainly” ‎parreesia‎, adverb as in John 7:13, 26. That is to say “I am the Christ” in so many words. … The demand seemed fair enough on the surface. They had made it before when here at the feast of tabernacles (John 8:25). Jesus declined to use the word ‎Christos ‎ (Messiah) then as now because of the political bearing of the word in their minds. The populace in Galilee had once tried to make him king in opposition to Pilate (John 6:14f). When Jesus does confess on oath before Caiaphas that he is the Christ the Son of God (Mark 14:61f = Matthew 26:63f), the Sanhedrin instantly vote him guilty of blasphemy and then bring him to Pilate with the charge of claiming to be king as a rival to Caesar. Jesus knew their minds too well to be caught now. (From Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament)

A certain word such as they request would have elicited their immediate condemnation of Jesus.

B. Notice The Revelation Of Their Doubt

(John 10:25) 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.

Adam Clarke wrote…

[I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.] That is, I told you before what I tell you now again, that the works which I do bear testimony to me (cf. John 5:36). I have told you that I am the light of the world: the Son of God: the good shepherd: that I am come to save, to give life, to give liberty, to redeem you: that, in order to this, I must die, and rise again; and that I am absolute master of my life, and of my death. Have you not noticed my omniscience, in searching and discovering the very secrets of your hearts? Have you not seen my omnipotence in the miracles which I have performed? Have not all these been sufficient to convince you? And yet ye will not believe! See the works which bore testimony to him, as the Messiah, enumerated Matthew 11:5.

The idea of “bearing witness” is of testifying in a legal proceeding.

C. Notice The Reason For Their Doubt

(John 10:26) But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that the word “believe” (NT:4100 – pisteuo) means…

To think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit, place confidence in. The word ‎is used in the New Testament of “the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of his soul”; thus it stands ‎absolutely to trust in Jesus or in God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something.

The Pulpit Commentary says…

He gives the reason of their insensibility or lack of appreciation and faith: But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.

A. T. Robertson said…

Because ye are not of my sheep‎. This had been the point in the allegory of the Good Shepherd. In fact, they were the children of the devil in spirit and conduct (John 8:43), pious ecclesiastics though they seemed, veritable wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

“As I said unto you” seems to refer to the next phrase in verse 27 regarding hearing His voice, because He had talked about that in verses 3 thru 5.

II. Jesus Spoke About An Assurance For The Flock

(John 10:27–28)

A. There Is Assurance In The Leadership That He Gives The Flock

(John 10:27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

hear – Greek 191. akouo, ak-oo'-o; a prim. verb; to hear (in various senses):--give (in the) audience (of), come (to the ears), ([shall]) hear (-er, -ken), be noised, be reported, understand.

know – Greek 1097. ginosko, ghin-oce'-ko; a prol. form of a prim. verb; to "know" (absol.), in a great variety of applications and with many impl. (as follow, with others not thus clearly expressed):--allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) known (-ledge), perceive, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.

follow – Greek 190. akoloutheo, ak-ol-oo-theh'-o; from G1 (as a particle of union) and keleu-thos (a road); prop. to be in the same way with, i.e. to accompany (spec. as a disciple):--follow, reach.

Charles Spurgeon said…

Christians are here compared to sheep. Not a very flattering comparison you may say; but then we do not wish to be flattered, nor would our Lord deem it good to flatter us, While far from flattering, it is, however, eminently consoling, for of all creatures there are not any more compassed about with infirmity than sheep. In this frailty of their nature they are a fit emblem of ourselves; at least, of so many of us as have believed in Jesus and become his disciples. Let others boast how strong they are; yet if there be strong ones anywhere, certainly we are weak. We have proved our weakness, and day by day we lament it. We do confess our weakness; yet may we not repine at it, for, as Paul said, so we find, when we are weak then are we strong. Sheep have many wants, yet they are very helpless, and quite unable to provide for themselves. But for the shepherd’s cure they would soon perish. This, too, is our case.

B. There Is Assurance In The Life That He Gives The Flock

(John 10:28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

A. T. Robertson explains that…

And they shall never perish ‎kai ‎‎ou ‎‎mee ‎‎apoloontai‎ (is an) emphatic double negative. … ‎The sheep may feel secure.

In other words, Jesus is saying, ‘And they shall no never perish!”

perish – Greek 622. apollumi, ap-ol'-loo-mee; from G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflex. to perish, or lose), lit. or fig.:--destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

Albert Barnes said…

The word (“perish”) refers to future punishment (in hell), and the declaration of the Saviour is that his followers, his true disciples, shall never be cast away. The original is expressed with remarkable strength: “They shall not be destroyed forever.” Syriac: “They shall not perish to eternity.”

Matthew Henry said…

Shepherds that have large flocks often lose some of the sheep and suffer them to perish; but Christ has engaged that none of his sheep shall perish, not one.

Jesus expresses this assurance from both a positive (“I give unto them eternal life”) and a negative (“they shall never perish”) standpoint.

C. There Is Assurance In The Location That He Gives The Flock

(John 10:28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

As Marvin Vincent noted, it is…

(“I give”) not, “I will give.” The gift is present and continuous. … Shall pluck ‎harpasei‎. See the note at John 10:12 (the word “catcheth” comes from the same Greek word as “pluck” here. It is the idea conveyed in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “caught away.”). Compare “can pluck,” John 10:29. Here Jesus speaks of “the fact;” there of “the possibility.” (In other words, it’s not going to happen now, and it’s not going to happen in the future.) The English Revised Version (1885): “snatch.” Wycliffe: “ravish.”

Arthur Pink said…

The believer is in the hand of Christ, and none is able to pluck from thence one of His own. Tease and annoy him the Devil may, but seize the believer he cannot. Blessed, comforting, re-assuring truth is this! Weak and helpless in himself, nevertheless, the sheep is secure in the hand of the Shepherd.

‎A. T. Robertson said…

No wolf (see verse 12), no thief, no bandit, no hireling, no demon, not even the devil can pluck the sheep out of my hand.

Barnes said…

The hand is that by which we hold or secure an object. It means that Jesus has them safely in his own care and keeping.

III. Jesus Spoke About An Association With The Father

(John 10:29–30)

A. With The Father There Is A Superiority

(John 10:29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

greater – Greek 3187. meizon, mide'-zone; irreg. compar. of G3173 (megas – big, strong); larger (lit. or fig., spec. in age):--elder, greater (-est), more.

God is the biggest. He is the strongest. Muhammad Ali said he was the greatest. But there is One greater! Phil Cross wrote these words made popular by the Cathedral Quartet…

(Verse 1) Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention

I want to introduce to you

In this corner of the good and the right

Stands a champion, robed in white

His height exceeds the heavens

His weight outweighs the world

His reach reaches everywhere

His age is evermore

(Chorus) He is higher than the highest

Greater than the great

No one will ever take His crown away

He is more mighty than the mightiest

He reigns from above

He's the all-time, undisputed, undefeated

Champion of Love

Barnes said…

[Which gave them me] See John 6:37.

[Is greater] Is more powerful.

[Than all] Than all others – men, angels, devils. The word includes everything – everything that could attempt to pluck them away from God; in other words, it means that God is supreme. It implies, further, that God will keep them, and will so control all other beings and things that they shall be safe.

Adam Clarke wrote…

[My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all] More powerful than all the united energies of men and demons. He who loves God must be happy; and he who fears him need fear nothing on this side eternity.

B. With The Father There Is A Security

(John 10:29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

The hand is suggestive of strength, of work, of giving, of imparting blessing. The outstretched hand suggests resolution. The hand speaks of resolution. The hand that is held or clasped in another speaks of fellowship. The hollow of the hand speaks of something that is grasped or held.

Listen to these words in Isaiah…

(Isaiah 40:10-12) Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. {11} He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. {12} Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Arthur Pink said…

The “hand of Christ” (verse 28) is beneath us, and the “hand” of the Father is above us. Thus are we secured between the clasped hands of Omnipotence! No stronger passage in all the Word of God can be found guaranteeing the absolute security of every child of God.

Matthew Henry wrote that…

None (neither man nor devil) is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hand, not able to deprive them of the grace they have, nor to hinder them from the glory that is designed them; not able to put them out of God’s protection, nor get them into their own power.

The word “man” has been added by the translators. So the verse actually could read, ‘None is able to pluck them out.’ No human threat, no hellish threat, no harmful threat; no heartache, no hardship can remove us from His hand!

C. With The Father There Is A Singularity

(John 10:30) I and my Father are one.

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “You want me to say it plainly. I can’t say it any plainer than this. ‘I and my Father are one’.”

Craig Keener said…

For Jesus to be one with the Father (albeit distinct from him) is tantamount to a claim to deity.

(From the IVP Bible Background Commentary)

W. S. Dewstoe said…

Between such a Father and such a Son there can be no collision – unity of nature must embrace unity of will.

(From The Biblical Illustrator)

They are unified in personality and purpose and passion.

‎A. T. Robertson said…

This crisp statement is the climax of Christ’s claims concerning the relation between the Father and himself (the Son). They stir the Pharisees to uncontrollable anger.

Warren Wiersbe said…

The people who heard it knew exactly what He was saying - “I am God!” (Note John 10:33.) To speak this way, of course, was blasphemy; and according to Jewish belief, blasphemy had to be punished by being put to death.


(John 10:31) Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

Arthur Pink wrote…

The Jews were celebrating “the feast of the dedication,” which commemorated the purification of the temple. But for the true Temple, the One to whom the temple had pointed — God tabernacling in their midst — they had no heart. The Lord Jesus is presented as walking in the temple, but it is to be carefully noted that He was “in Solomon’s porch” (verse 23). Which means that He was on the outside of the sacred enclosure, Israel’s “house” was left unto them desolate (cf. Matthew 23:38)!

He is the persuasive One; He is the protecting One; He is the paramount One! He is worthy! The Jews were celebrating the dedication of their temple, but they had not dedicated the personal temple of their own hearts and lives to Him. Have you?