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.
I had to smile at this question. How much more plainly did the religious leaders need Him to say Who He was? Just a few of His statements so far include, I am the Living Bread, the Son of God, the Living Water, the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Light of the World.
It is winter in Jerusalem. It is the time of the Feast of Dedication, also known as Hanukkah. I lived for two years in a Jewish neighborhood in north Minneapolis, and I remember well the excitement of my classmates during this season, which often comes about the same time as the Gentile Christmas season. It was a time that celebrated the cleansing and re-dedication of the temple after three years of desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria (in 164 or 165 b.c.).
Antiochus Epiphanes’ reign of terror in Israel was a time of great suffering for the people of Israel. You can read about Hanukkah at this link, if you’d like to know more about it:
Jesus was walking along Solomon’s Porch in the Temple, and as usually happened, people began to gather around Him. As they walked, there was conversation. Finally someone asked Him, “Why don’t You come right out with it? Are you the Christ? Tell us plainly!”
As I’ve already said, He had told them plainly. This was not a friendly interview, but another attempt by the religious leaders to get Him to say He was the King of the Jews, so that they could report His words to the Roman authorities.
The wording in the Hebrew language describing this incident indicates that these leaders encircled Him, “ringed around Him,” so He could not escape as He had done before. This was not a subtle effort, but a planned, visible attempt to keep Him under control and force Him to say something for which they could accuse Him of perfidy against Rome.
But Jesus knew their hearts. He was ready for them. We’ll look at His response tomorrow.