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Our Lord's Presence at Jewish Feasts

Weekly Devotions

Weekly articles written to encourage, challenge, and inspire Christians.

Our Lord's Presence at Jewish Feasts

Paul Ussher

I am the Light of the world...
— John 8.12

There were a number of Jewish Feasts that the people of Israel celebrated in Jerusalem.  In John's gospel, we read of our Lord's presence at three of these feasts, giving us some additional insight into their significance as they relate to our Lord's ministry and purpose. 

Sukkot


Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, was a Jewish festival celebrated every year in remembrance of Israel's sojourn in the wilderness.   During Sukkot, two important ceremonies took place. The Jewish people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. Also, the priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply.  These two important ceremonies have even more meaning to us when we consider our Lord's message that He spoke to the people upon the conclusion of this feast when He said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38) The next morning, while the torches were still burning our Lord Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." ( John 8:12)  With a better understanding of these ceremonies, we can appreciate to a greater extent the timing of our Lord's words that He used to describe Himself to His people that they might receive Him.    


Pesach

Pesach, or the Passover Feast, is probably the most well known and important celebrations to the Jews as they remembered the price of their freedom in the land of Egypt.   Not only do we read of the Lord keeping the Passover in Jerusalem as a boy but even up to the night and day that he was betrayed and killed.  Though it may sound strange to us today, the Jewish day began at night fall and ended on sundown the next day.  Therefore, the Lord kept the final Passover with His disciples when the Jewish day began and before the next sundown, He had paid the price of sin as the Lamb of God through His death, and was buried as the day came to a close.  


Hanukkah 

Hanukkah, sometimes referred to as the Feast of Dedication or Lights, is not found in the Hebrew Bible.  You might be aware of this Feast as the Jews celebrate it each year just before Christmas by lighting a candle on the candelabrum each night for eight days.  The Feast is to commemorate the revolt that took place by the Maccabees in 164BC to take control of Judea, Jerusalem, and the Temple.  The Seleucid ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes had desecrated the temple in 167BC and so the temple was rededicated under the Maccabees rule and the candelabrum, which only had enough oil to burn for one night burned for eight, which the Jews recognized as a miracle from the Lord.  Though this Feast is not in the Hebrew Bible since this event in Jewish history occurred between Malachi and the New Testament, we do know that the Lord attended this Feast from the account in John 10.  In fact, it was at this Feast that His accusers wanted to stone Him to death while He was in the Temple.  This Feast is a reminder to us that our Lord's body was a temple and though it was violently desecrated by the gentiles, He raised it up again as the Light of the World that would shine forever.  This is the greatest miracle of all.