December 10th marks the beginning of this year’s Hanukkah celebration, and while our family is Christian, we have celebrated this holiday for several years, largely for one reason: Jesus our Savior, (whose accurate name is Yeshua, and whose birth gets celebrated each year on December 25th even though it’s not His real birthday) celebrated Hanukkah. “What?” you may ask. Yep, here it is in the gospel of John, Chapter 10: 22-25
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
24 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.
25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
Hanukkah inarguably is the Feast of Dedication, and while it isn’t mentioned in the recorded line-up of feasts in the Bible, the fact that Yeshua went to Jerusalem to celebrate it in the middle of winter I think is something that should give us pause. Of course, once He stepped onto Solomon’s porch He stirred things up, which was always part of His MO. The debate continues to this day regarding the current scope of His works. Some folks like me know from experience that He still does everything He ever did, and others felt like for some reason once we became the People of the Book 2.0, we no longer needed the fulness of what He promised. Seriously? We’re in the midst of a really rough season of sickness, and we don’t need healing? But, I digress….
The title of this Point is The Strength Of The Shamash, and the word means “slave” or “servant.” The “slave candle,” which is in the middle of the 9-candle menorah or Hanukkah candle is the most honored of all the candles. Why? Because it serves. Its whole job each night is to be lit first, and then light more and more candles each of the 8 nights until the menorah represents the fulness of the miracle long ago when one night’s oil burned in the temple for a full eight nights.
Isn’t that what we need to be in the midst of a holiday season that many would just as soon ignore because they are afraid? What is it about the slave or servant that has always been and still is so strong? I guess what would sum it up the best to me would be, “surrender.” When you are surrendered, in a strange way, you are in a position of strength because no one can break you. When we look at the model of the Light and Life we are celebrating, let us remember one of His most interesting statements a bit earlier in verse 18:
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
If you determine that you are going to lay down your life, even in ways that no one but your Father sees, you will be a strong slave candle that lights up others who are then free to shine to their fulness. Happy Hanukkah.
Ali Elizabeth Turner