Gospel Reading: John 5:33-36
33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 56:1-3,6-8
1 Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, every one who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant – 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. 8 Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”
Meditation: Do you know the joy of the Gospel – the good news that the Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to set us free from the kingdom of darkness, death, and Satan? Jesus’ opponents refused to accept his authority to speak and act in the name of God. And they refused to believe that he was sent from the Father in heaven. They demanded evidence for his claim to be the Anointed Messiah and divine Son of the eternal Father. Jesus answered their charges with the supporting evidence of witnesses. The law of Moses had laid down the principle that the unsupported evidence of one person shall not prevail against a man for any charge of wrongdoing (see Deuteronomy 17:6). At least two or three witnesses were needed.
John was a burning and shining lamp
Jesus began his defense by citing John the Baptist as his witness, since John publicly pointed to Jesus as the Messiah and had repeatedly borne witness to him (see John 1:19, 20, 26, 29, 35, 36). Jesus called John a burning and shining lamp that illuminated the minds and hearts of those who were ready to hear the prophetic message he spoke in God’s name. A lamp cannot light itself – it must be lit from a borrowed source. The function of a lamp is to illumine the darkness and to guide people. John pointed to the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true source of light which comes from God. Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind and to free people from the blindness of sin, deception, and ignorance. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world – he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Jesus’ mighty signs witness to the coming of God’s kingdom in his person
Jesus asserted that a second and greater witness to his claim to be the Messiah were the mighty signs and miracles which he performed. He cites his own miraculous works, not to point to himself but to point to the power of God the Father working in and through him. He cited God the Father as his supreme witness.
Jesus also asserted that the word of God in the Old Testament Scriptures, including the first five books of Moses, pointed to him as the promised Messiah and Savior. The problem with the scribes and Pharisees was that they did not fully believe what Moses had written. They desired the praise of their own people and since they were so focused on themselves, they became blind-sighted to God and to the truth of his word. They were so preoccupied with their own position as authorities and interpreters of the law that they became hardened and unable to understand the word of God. Their pride made them deaf to God’s voice.
God reveals his light and truth to the humble of heart
Scripture tells us that God reveals himself to the lowly of heart, to those who trust not in themselves but in God alone (Matthew 11:25-27,29 and Luke 10:21-22). The lowly of heart listen to God’s word with an eagerness to learn and to obey. The Lord Jesus reveals to us the very mind and heart of God. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he opens our ears so that we may hear his voice and he fills our hearts and minds with the love and knowledge of God. Do you believe that God’s word has power to set you free from the blindness of sin and deception? If you believe in his word you will know the truth and the truth will make you free to walk in his way of love and righteousness (John 8:32).
“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may listen to your word attentively, obey it fully, and live it joyfully.”
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.Selah
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
7 God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The prophets and apostles are lamps of God, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
“All people are lamps because they can both be lighted and extinguished… Only [Christ] is not a lamp. For he is not lighted and extinguished, because “as the Father has life in himself, so he has given to the Son to have life in himself.” Therefore, the apostles, too, are lamps. And they give thanks because they both have been kindled by the light of truth and burn with the Spirit of love, and the oil of God’s grace is available to them. If they were not lamps, the Lord would not say to them, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). For after he said, “You are the light of the world,” he shows that they should not think they were such a light as that of which it is said, “It was the true light that enlightens everyone who comes into this world.” (excerpt from TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 23.3.1–2).