John 5:35

John 5:35

He was a burning and a shining light
He was not that light, the famous light, the Messiah, the sun of righteousness; yet he was the "phosphorus", the forerunner of that light, and was himself a very great one: he had much light himself into the person and office of the Messiah; in the doctrines of faith in Christ, and repentance towards God; in the Gospel dispensation, and in the abolition of the Mosaic economy; and gave great light to others, in the business of salvation, and remission of sins, and was the means of guiding the feet of many in the way of peace. His light of pure doctrine, and of an holy and exemplary conversation, shone very visibly, and brightly before men; and he burned with strong love and affection for Christ, and the souls of men; and with flaming zeal for the honour of God, and true religion, and against all sin and profaneness, which he was a faithful reprover of, and for which he lost his life. It was common with the Jews to call their doctors, who were famous for their knowledge, and holiness of life, lights, burning lights, and shining lights; or in words which amount to the same. So R. Simeon ben Jochai is often called in the book of Zohar, (avydq anyuwb) , "the holy light"; and particularly it is said of him {m},

``R. Simeon, (qyldad agrvd anyuwbk) , is as "the lamp of light which burns above", and "burns" below; and by the light which burns below all the children of the world are enlightened: woe to the world, when the light below ascends to the light above.''

So R. Abhu is called (arwhnd anyuwb) , "the lamp of light" F14: and it is F15 said of Shuah, Judah's father-in-law, that he was (artad) (anyuwb) , "the light of the place"; that is, where he lived. The gloss on the place says, he was a man of note in the city, and enlightened their eyes; and it is very frequent with them still, when they are praising any of their doctors, to say of him, he was (lwdgh rwamh) , "a great light", who enlightened the eyes of Israel, and in whose light the people walked F16; so among the philosophers, Xenophon, and Plato, are called duo lumina F17, "two lights"; (See Gill on Matthew 5:14);

and ye were willing for a season,
or "for an hour",

to rejoice in his light;
or "to glory in it", or "boast of" it, as the Syriac and Persic versions render it. When John first appeared among them, they were fond, and even proud of him; they gloried in him, that a man of such uncommon endowments, and of such exemplary holiness, was raised up among them; and hoped that he was the Messiah, or Elias, that was to come before him; and pleased themselves, that times of great outward honour and prosperity were hastening: wherefore they flocked about him, and many of the Pharisees and Sadducees attended his ministry, and would have been baptized by him; but when they found that he was not the Messiah, nor Elias, nor that prophet, but bore a testimony to Jesus of Nazareth, that he was the Messiah; and ran counter to their notions of a temporal kingdom, and of birth privileges, and their own righteousness; and threatened them with ruin, and destruction, both in this world, and that which is to come, in case of their impenitence and unbelief; they grew sick of him, and said he had a devil, and rejected the counsel of God he declared, and despised his baptism. Such was their fickleness and inconstancy, which Christ here tacitly charges them with. They were like the stony ground hearers, and like some of the Apostle Paul's admirers among the Galatians, who at first could have plucked out their eyes for him, but afterwards became his enemies for telling them the truth.


F13 Zohar in Exod. fol. 79. 1.
F14 T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 17. 1.
F15 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 85. fol. 74. 4. & Mattanot Cehunah in ib.
F16 Vid. R. David Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 38. 1. 41. 1. 44. 2. 45. 1. 46. 2. & 47. 1.
F17 A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 14. c. 3.