33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
Jesus’ claim to equality with the Father required justification. In verses 33-47 Jesus drew on four irreproachable sources to verify His claims.
Jesus’ first appeal to John the Baptist pointed to popular opinion.
You have sent to John [the Baptist],
John the Baptist was the first testimony to corroborate Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. The Jews of Jesus’ day deemed John as a valid prophet. They themselves had interrogated him personally (Jn 1:15ff).
John 1:29-35 records John the Baptist’s witness to Christ. Jesus reminded the Jews that they had once accepted the Baptist’s testimony. Their very own research bore testimony to Jesus as the Messiah.
and he has borne witness to the truth.
The role of John the Baptist was to be a witness that the Messiah was coming. His role was as the forerunner of the Messiah. He faithfully relayed that message to Israel. John corroborated the validity of who Jesus was (Jn 1:7). He publicly announced that Jesus was the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29f).
Yet I do not receive testimony from man,
Jesus did not need John to verify His credentials, but his testimony helped those who lived in darkness. John the Baptist did not know everything. He only knew what the Father told him to say.
The witness that Jesus received did not come from man. The point of this whole passage is that His primary attestation was from the Father.
but I say these things that you may be saved.
The Father sent John so that Israel could understand the saving ministry of Jesus the Messiah. Too much was at stake to put salvation completely in the hands of finite human beings. What Christ had to say was for the benefit of those listening to Him.
He [John the Baptist] was the burning and shining lamp,
In verse 35 Jesus evaluated the ministry of John the Baptist. The metaphor of a lamp here conveys the idea that John shed light to Israel on the coming Messiah. He was a man of burning conviction consumed with introducing Jesus as the Messiah.
John was a “lamp” but not the light. He truly illumined truth about the Messiah. A lamp needs a wick to be lit. The wick needs oil. John was a lamp but Jesus was the light (Jn 8:12). He was a light in the spiritual darkness in Israel.
and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
John’s light to Israel dimmed after a time. When Israel understood the full implication of accepting Jesus as the Messiah, their enthusiasm faded fast. The people of Israel were attracted to John the Baptist just like moths attracted to a lamp. Superficial religionists are attracted to the novel, but they have no abiding belief in what they see.
“For a time” indicates how short lived was their reception of God’s voice through John the Baptist. The Jews accepted the message of John only while he was popular. Why would they not accept the One about whom John preached? Jesus said in effect, “How can you honorably accept the prophet John the Baptist’s words and not believe in Me?” That is inconsistent.
God’s design for man is not that they live in the dark but that they understand the revelation of the Messiah. John did not flicker in his delivery; he was a clear testimony to Jesus. However, the Jews looked at him and his message as just an exciting religious experience but soon forgot what it was all about.
Religious celebrities produce superficial followers.
Some people do not take the message of Jesus seriously. Religious celebrities command attention when popular but, when their popularity fades, they lose the loyalty of their followers. Shallow people superficially follow popular leaders but can quickly follow someone else who is more popular. The problem here is flimflam without content.