Light of the world

THE DAWNING OF THE LIGHT

(December 19, 2017) Dr Jim McClure respected theologian, shares a Christ-centred Christmas word…

Today millions of Jews around the world are almost at the conclusion of the celebration of Hanukkah – which relates to something that occurred 2156 years ago.

It celebrates the recapture of Jerusalem and the rededication of the temple after the Syrian ruler, Antiochus, killed thousands of Jews, banned Jewish worship, prohibited the reading of the scriptures, sacrificed pigs on the altar and refused the Jews to practise the ceremonial laws of their religion.

A group of Jews, under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, formed a band of guerrillas to fight against the much stronger and larger army of Antiochus – and they won! Jerusalem was liberated, the temple was cleansed, a new altar was built and the temple was rededicated in 139 BC. A new lampstand had to be made as the beautiful golden lampstand had been stolen from the temple by the Syrians.

Only pure fresh olive oil was ever used to provide the light on the temple’s lampstand… this is where the story gets really interesting. Only a small jar of pure olive oil could be found, sufficient for keeping the lamp lit for only one day. But apparently, miraculously, it burned for eight days until new oil was again available. That event is still celebrated over an eight day period today and it is also called The Festival of Lights. That eight day period this year is celebrated between the 12th and 20th of December.

I mention this because of the proximity of the Festival of Lights celebration to the Christian celebration of Christmas, and also because, while Hanukkah celebrates the miraculous gift of oil that provided light in the temple for eight days, at Christmas we celebrate the inexpressible gift of Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. (more…)

INEXTINGUISHABLE LIGHT

Jim McClureQuestion: Of what relevance is the celebration of Christmas today?


Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, responds:

Christmas is a special time! It means many things to many people but for the Christian its primary meaning is that God ‘sent his one and only Son into the world’ (1 John 4:9) on a mission to save a humanity that was broken, lost and without hope.

At Christmas time Isaiah 9:2 is often read – ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ Traditionally ‘darkness’ has been used in various cultures to signify evil, oppression and depression. In the Bible, particularly, the word is used symbolically of those things that are opposed to God. (more…)