“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?’” Matt. 2:1-2
I have a dear friend who is Jewish, a follower of Christ, and a pastor of a small Messianic congregation in Colorado. He fervently believes that Christmas is as much a Jewish holiday as it is a Gentile one, and that Hanukkah (the Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication) and the Advent/Christmas traditions have much in common – they are both a celebration of Light.
Hanukkah is the celebration of the “light” that miraculously burned for eight days with only one day’s worth of oil. Christmas celebrates the One who miraculously came as the true “light” for both Jew and Gentile. That Light is Jesus, the Christ (Messiah). He is the very One about whom Isaiah prophesied: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
He is the One about whom Simeon, mindful of Isaiah’s prophecy, spoke over the child Jesus in his dedication at the Temple as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel”. While Christmas may be perceived as a “Gentile” holiday, we do well to remember that Gentile believers belong to a Jewish tree (as grafted branches) whose root is Jesus, the Jewish Messiah (see Romans 11).
As we celebrate Christmas this week, let’s remember our roots and acknowledge that we celebrate the birth of a Jewish Messiah who is the Prince of Peace and Savior of all men – Jew and Gentile. Here’s one way we can do that and create an opportunity to share this truth with our grandchildren and/or Jewish friends. Along with the other lights that we display during the Christmas season, including the Advent wreath, why not also display the Menorah as a reminder that Jesus is the true eternal Light that shines in those who are now His temple.
While there is no need to embrace Jewish traditions to celebrate Christmas, it is a good time to remind our grandchildren of our roots, to thank God for our Jewish heritage, and to pray for our Jewish brothers in Christ and for Jews around the world who have yet to see Jesus of Nazareth for who He really is – their Jewish Messiah and King.
So, this year I wish you a Happy Hanukkah and a Christmas Shalom!
GRANDPAUSE: “Hanukkah and Christmas! God’s wondrous plan to bring together Jew and Gentile to be His glorious church full of His Light and Glory.” – Roy Lessin