There is abundant evidence that Jesus was not born in the month of December; however, did you know that an event in the month of December is mentioned in the Bible? Specifically, we read of Jesus attending a feast in the month of December. In John 10:22, 23 we read “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.” (NKJV) I find this passage very interesting and feel that a couple of points need to be made.
First, what is the Feast of Dedication and why was Jesus there? Let us first understand that the Hebrews had a bunch of celebrations. Some were based on traditions. It was difficult for them to give some of these up after they became Christians. Paul alludes to this in Rom. 14:5: “One esteems one day over another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” The need to celebrate the old Jewish feast days was no longer necessary, however. Paul wrote to the brethren in Colossae: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths.” (Col. 2:16) Others were based on religious, natural or agricultural events. The Feast of Dedication, according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, began on December 25th and was held for eight days. (Orr, James “Feast of Dedication,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) Burton Coffman notes about this feast: “The Feast of Dedication was begun by Judas Maccabeus B.C. 164 to commemorate the cleansing and rededication of the temple after the defilement through pagan worship. It was not one of the great feasts handed down from Moses; but it was popular among the people who called it: the feast of lights. It was held at the winter solstice (Christmas) ... and was called `The Feast of the New Age." (Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 10", "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament", Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999). This feast was instituted by men, not by God. This feast is also known as the “Feast of Lights” because of the lights that were used to celebrate it. It is also known as “Hanukkah.” The Jews continue its celebration today.
Second, Jesus no doubt spoke at this time because there was a crowd present (John 10:23-25). Any feast day was likely to draw a crowd of Jews. So, on or around December 25th Jesus began a discourse that dealt with Himself. Those in the crowd accused Him of blasphemy. The speech on that day was one about His identity. He stated, “The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me” (John 10:25). Jesus further spoke of His relationship to the Father and said, “I and My Father are One.” (John 10:30) The Jews then sought to stone Jesus.
We should take any day possible to speak about Christ to others. Christmas, like the Feast of Dedication, is instituted by man; yet, we should speak of Christ to others since Christ is on the minds of so many. As Christ took a man-made celebration to tell of Himself, let us also do the same this holiday season.
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/