And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.John 10:22-24
Are you too religious?
Does your practice of religion blind you to the true nature of God and the truth revealed in His word?
That is the exact situation described here in John’s gospel.
They were so involved in religion that they missed the Messiah. They “couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” They missed the big picture by focusing on the wrong, insignificant trees.
The Feast of Dedication commemorates the time when Judas Maccabeus and Matathias of the Hasmoneons led a revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes and retook the Temple from him. The legend states that they were trapped and only had enough oil for one night to light the lamp, but it lasted for eight. Today, this celebration is known as Hanukkah.
Even though this is a very popular celebration, we must examine the facts surrounding it. First of all, there is no INSPIRED writing that testifies to the account. This occurred during the time between the two Testaments when God Himself swore He would not speak to Israel until He sent John the Baptist (Malachi 4:5-6). This should cast some doubt on the validity of the story, or at least show that this celebration is not appointed by God. God had appointed three festivals under the law and this was not one of them.
My point is this. The Jews were very religious with their ceremonies and celebrations. This particular celebration is not appointed by God but is widely accepted and practiced. But what good did it do for the Jews? During a festival that celebrated what the Jews thought the Messiah would be, the true Messiah stood among them and they couldn’t see Him for Who He was! It is providentially ironic that Jesus would make some of His boldest statements of Who He was during a festival that was looking for a different Messiah. In fact, the most zealous leaders among the Jews who promoted the man-made celebration were actually trying to discredit Jesus.
These men believed man’s record of Jewish history more than God’s inspired record. Therefore, they were looking for a Messiah that fit man’s description, not God’s. During the ensuing conversation, Jesus would plainly tell these unbelievers that they do not belong to God. They are not His sheep.
Our practice of religion should never interfere with our understanding of the true nature of God. Our worship should be simple enough so that we are not distracted by the practice and lose focus from our Object of worship – Jesus Christ.