Much of John 5 is Jesus responding to the Jewish leaders who were criticizing him for performing miracles on the Sabbath. More than miracles on the Sabbath, they were upset that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God.
Jesus launches into a discussion about authority and testimony. His authority comes from God and God himself testifies to this fact. In the midst of this, Jesus drops this line about John the Baptist:
“John was a lamp that burned and gave light” (John 5:35).
What a great depiction of the kind of life God honors.
Not all lamps burn. In ancient days, a lamp without fuel would be a dark lamp. Today, there are lamps in my house that will only give light when they are plugged into the wall. They may look nice, even decorative, but that’s not what a lamp is for; a lamp is for providing light.
John Wesley was one of the great revival preachers of the 1700’s. Along with his brother, Charles, he helped establish the Methodist Church. Thousands of people would gather to hear Wesley preach. He was once asked the secret of his success. Here was his answer:
“I set myself on fire, and people come to see me burn.”
Wesley was a lamp that burned and gave light to thousands (and through the Methodist Church) and millions of people. He understood that a lamp had but one purpose: to give light.
If I could give you one word of advice, it would be this: burn.