Jewish Feasts as Signs

Jesus came again to Jerusalem for another feast, the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple, John’s Gospel read in as today’s Lenten reading says. It’s the Hanukkah feast celebrated sometime in late November to late December, recalling the rededication of the temple after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century BC.

In John’s Gospel the Jewish feasts are signs revealing who Jesus is; they inspire his words and the miracles he does. In fact, he replaces them.

On the Sabbath, (chapter 5) he heals the paralyzed man at the pool at Bethsaida. The Son will not rest from giving life as the Father never rests from giving life.

On the Passover (chapter 6), he is the true Bread from heaven, the manna that feeds multitudes.

On the Feast of Tabernacles (chapters 7–9) he calls himself the light of the world and living water.

On the Feast of the Dedication, (chapter 10,31-42) he reveals himself as the true temple, the One who dwells among us and makes God’s glory known. Once more, Jesus proclaims in today’s Gospel his relationship to the Father, “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Yet, once more hostile listeners do not see the signs and accuse him of blasphemy, trying to stone him or have him arrested. But Jesus evades them and goes back across the Jordan to the place where John baptized and “many there began to believe in him.” He will return to Jerusalem to raise Lazarus from the dead. (chapter11)

So many signs are given to us. We have the scriptures, the sacraments, the witness of the saints. How tragic not to follow them to the Word made flesh! Follow the feasts and let them speak to us.

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