Today’s full reading is John 11:1-44
“Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe you sent me.”
I love listening in on Jesus’ prayer life. When he talks to his Father you can sense the familiarity and intimacy that exists between them and yet also the authority Jesus has in prayer, it’s majestic.
At Lazarus’ tomb, we can learn a lot about Jesus’ relationship with the Father, and also learn something about what the Father is like as well.
‘Father I thank you.’
Jesus begins by lifting his head, a physical act that focuses his mind and makes it clear to all onlookers that he’s praying.
He then begins by addressing his Father. Up until now he has been talking about God using the word ‘God’ to discuss him. As he prays suddenly it’s ‘Father’ — Abba. He speaks with tenderness and familiarity to God.
Jesus begins with gratitude. It isn’t for the sake of maintaining an appearance of piety that he does this or because he knows it’s ‘appropriate’ but because he’s got his eyes open to God’s work in the world. Saying ‘thank you’ can only happen as you look around and notice the things you’ve got to be thankful for. A mouth that says ‘thank you’ reveals a heart that’s free from bitterness and selfish self-righteousness.
What is he thankful for?
Jesus is thankful — that God has heard him. This means both that God was aware of his plea but also that God granted it. God granted his request to glorify his Son. This is a recurring theme. It is becoming almost too repetitious to mention. The Father is motivated by the idea of drawing positive attention to his Son. Time and again this is the case:
The Father loves the Son
The Father listens to the Son
The Father grants the Son’s requests.
This is how it is that Jesus can affirm as he does several times in John’s gospel ‘whatever you ask in my name, you will receive’ the emphasis falling on the ‘in my name’.
He knew that his Father loved him and knew that his Father would hear him when he prayed. It was this double knowledge that gave him confidence and boldness when he prayed.
I see it so clearly. I’m convinced of it. Jesus, far from being my only hope, is the greatest hope. He is the apple of the Father’s eye. The Father delights in him, and since I’m in him — the Father delights in me too.
When we pray we can pray with the same level of confidence and gratitude knowing that our Father hears us and welcomes us when we come on the basis of his Son.
Thank you Father. Thank you for all that you do for me. Thank you for all that you’re going to do for me and thank you that you hear me when I pray. You listen to me, you grant my requests and you welcome me to keep coming and asking you for various things. I come in the name of Jesus and for his sake and for his glory I ask everything I ask. Amen.