The presence of Jesus at non-commanded Jewish feast days (Dedication, and Purim).

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by Pergamum, Dec 27, 2017.

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  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I am struggling through the issue of Jesus' presence at these two non-commanded feasts: (1) Hannukah (The feast of the Dedication), and (2) Purim:

    (1) First Hannukah:

    “Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade” (John 10:22–23).

    AT FIRST, it appears that John mentions the Feast of the Dedication in a manner that makes it appear that Jesus' presence was there for the feast. He was in Jerusalem. What is more, He went to the Temple on the appointed day.

    But it seems Jesus kept Himself to the court of the Gentiles and did not go in an worship with the Pharisees but used the occasion to engage them. Is this correct? John seems to mention this for a reason.

    Since the Feast of Dedication was initiated during the time of the Maccabees when there was no revelation given, by affirming that Jesus celebrated it, we would be giving affirmation to the Book of Maccabees, right? And also affirming that the supposed miracle of the oil actually happened, right? For Jesus wouldn't celebrate a holiday based on a fraud, would he? Or maybe the miracle of the oil did happen?

    BUT....Jesus did attend the Temple during the Feast of Dedication. Isn't this an observance of sorts, as much as He could? He attended the Temple on the expected day....but only kept to the Court of the Gentiles.

    (2) Purim:

    BUT..... now, how about Purim? It does not say God instituted Purim, but only the Jews...

    But in John 5 it appears that Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the purpose of the Purim feast. Did Jesus celebrate Purim? This unnamed feast appears to be Purim.

    My opinion right now is that it appears that though Hannukah and Purim were not directly commanded by God that Jesus still appeared and attended upon these festivities, though in a way that did not dishonor God.

    But...if these festivals were not honoring to God, wouldn't Jesus have stayed FAR away?

    Finally, how does this impact me living in another culture that celebrate foreign holidays?
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Also, does this issue come down to a matter of conscience and is it covered under Romans 14? Why or why not?
  3. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior


    As to the Feast of Dedication: as you yourself noted, Jesus remained on Solomon's porch. Nothing is said about whether he took part in any of the religious observances. We just know that he went there, and that he taught on Solomon's porch. Calvin supposes that Christ went there for the purpose of teaching to a large audience: "Christ appeared in the temple at that time, according to custom, that his preaching might yield more abundant fruit amidst a large assembly of men." Poole, in the midst of a thoughtful discussion of the feast notes, "Whether Christ went up in order to the feast, or because of the great concourse of people he knew would be there at that time, cannot be determined."

    As to Purim: I don't see anything about Purim in the passage. It doesn't tell what feast he was attending. Gill writes, "The time came on for one of the three festivals of the Jews; either the feast of Pentecost, as some think; or as others, the feast of tabernacles; or rather, the feast of the passover, so called, in John 4:45 since John is very particular, in giving an account of the several passovers, in Christ's ministry."

    Calvin thinks that the feast in John 5 is Pentecost: "Though the Evangelist does not expressly state what feast this was, yet the probable conjecture is that he means Pentecost, at least if what is here related took place immediately after that Christ came into Galilee. For immediately after the Passover he set out from Jerusalem, and, as he was passing through Samaria, he reckoned four months to the harvest; having entered Galilee he cured the courtier's son. The Evangelist adds that the feast came afterwards; and, therefore, the order of time leads us to conclude that we ought to understand it to be Pentecost; though I do not dispute about that matter."
  4. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Matthew Henry has an interesting note on John 10:22-23. I don't whether to agree with it fully, but it's worth considering:
    So, in Henry's conception, the feasts were civil celbrations, and not pretended holy days; if this is the case (I don't know whether it is), then the celebration of the days would be perfectly lawful.
  5. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The context of Romans 14 is the redemptive-historical shift from OT worship to NT worship. It is easy to see how NT Jews (especially newly converted ones) would have a hard time understanding that the Mosaic feast days had passed away. Wouldn't you agree that that is a very different matter from observing days of merely human institution?
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Thanks Tyler....chewing on all this now.
  7. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    This is perhaps a little off-topic, so I'll just throw this out there and otherwise leave it alone.

    Do we have to believe that Purim was not a commanded feast? It is instituted in the book of Esther, which is part of inspired Scripture; it was commanded by a legitimate civil authority, in which, by God's striking providence, Jews had been elevated to a very high position (indeed, Mordecai and Esther have clearly become by the end the deliverers and acknowledged leaders of God's people in the Persian Empire); and it celebrates God's 'anonymous' intervention to once again deliver his people from the machinations of the seed of the serpent.

    Naturally if the book of Esther records its institution it would not be with an explicit "thus saith the Lord" because that would be contrary to the whole genius of Esther.
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