When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” – Luke 2:22-24
At this time of year, the religious Christian community celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. My family and I have always participated in these celebrations, though as Jewish believers in Jesus, we’ve adopted a more restrained level of holiday cultural activity (decorating, shopping, party-attending) than many around us. We’ve also always observed Chanukah, which begins this year on the evening of Tuesday, December 16th and concludes eight days later at sundown, December 24th.
Though Chanukah, also known as the Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights, is a minor feast in the yearly Jewish ritual cycle, our family always lit the candles in our menorah. As we did, we revisited the exciting account of the Maccabeean victory over Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 164 B.C. and thanked God for the story of the sacred oil lamp in the cleansed, rededicated temple that burned for eight miraculous days when it only had enough oil for a single day. In the spiritual darkness of those days, seeing the light burn once again in the holy place after years of darkness and idol worship must have been pure joy for the Maccabees.
As we celebrate the holidays this year, I see the effect of this historical events of Chanukah reflected in the first days of the life of Jesus…