At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,  and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.  So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”Bible historians, who know about these things, tell us that between verses 21 and 22, two months have passed. Now we are watching Jesus at the time of the Feast of Dedication.
Not familiar with that term? I wasn't, either, and it turns out that this is called Hanukkah these days. This time of celebration was the newest of the feasts, and it has quite a history, as others do:
In 175 BC, there was a Syrian leader called Antiochus Ephiphanes. Apparently he tried to mix together the Hebrew and Greek cultures, but his misguided attempt had some pretty catastrophic consequences.
He desecrated the temple of God, forced the priests to eat pork, and even used the chambers of the temple as a brothel. He even caused sacrilege at the altar, making burnt offerings to Zeus.
A hero arose in the midst of the Jewish people -- Judas Maccabeus, the son of a village priest -- and he led a rebellion that fought and defeated the Syrian leader. After the successful rebellion, Judas Maccabeus led the cleansing of the temple and organized its rededication to the worship of the one true God. That feast of dedication lasted eight days with a candle to be lit each day, just like the traditional Hanukkah of today.
It's striking when we read this and realize that Jesus is in a crowd of people who are celebrating Israel's great victory over the Syrian who desecrated the temple. The celebration is for a great time in history, but they are missing what is right in front of them -- history being made! And an even greater victory is coming. But I'm getting ahead of the story.
Jesus is surrounded by unbelief. The verse says that they "gathered around him." We can see that it's a confrontation; He is probably encircled by these questioners. And they say they want a clear reply.
They are accusing Him of not making His position plain. Say what?
Does that surprise you like it did me?
Their line of questioning caught me by surprise, because Jesus has certainly NOT been evading the issue! It's hard to believe that they don't think He has answered clearly. Have they not really been listening? Yep, that's pretty obvious.
Jesus has been saying that He is sent from God. He has worked miracles that have left other people convinced of the fact that He is the Son of God. Yet these people haven't yet "got it."
We'll look at His explanation next time.