Feast of Renewal
The Birth of Jesus Christ and the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, which coincide in time with the end of the calendar year and the beginning of the new year, are very different in meaning: the first celebrates the beginning of the Christian era; the second celebrates the restoration of the traditional service in the Temple in Jerusalem, which was interrupted by the civil war in 170 BC. As it is not difficult to understand, the feast of Hanukkah is a feast of restoration, which is explained by the continuation of the interrupted actions, and in this sense it is the opposite of the feast of Christmas, whose meaning is not only and not so much about a new chronology, but about the renewal of man, which begins with the coming of the new Adam. Renewal begins with the act of birth, continues with the unconventional behavior and teaching of the new Messiah, and ends with his execution, resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven, interpreted in Christianity as presaging the future renewal of all people:
For sin was in the world before the law was given; but sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Yet, death ruled from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin in the same way Adam did when he disobeyed. Adam is an image of the one who would come. But there is a great difference between Adam's sin and God's gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.
The antagonism and incompatibility of the old and the new is illustrated many times in the New Testament, one notable example of which is the scene described in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of John:
Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods’, to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be set aside — what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place many believed in Jesus.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon. A New Creation. A Sermon No.3467. Published on Thursday, July 15th, 1915.