Jesus prayed for us: Part 4

Jesus prayed for us

Jesus prayed for the Father’s glory

Samuel C. Degner 

It was a watershed moment in the ministry of Jesus.

He stood in front of the tomb of his dear friend, Lazarus, with Mary and Martha, the sisters of the dead man. Gathered all around were friends and neighbors who had come to comfort the women. He asked the stone to be rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, and everyone waited to see what would happen.

A prayer to honor his Father

The sisters believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They believed in the resurrection. But they also knew that, after four days, bodies began to decompose. The mourners saw the tear tracks on Jesus’ cheeks and knew that he loved Lazarus. They had heard of his healing power. But could that power reach all the way to the depths of the grave?

As the sound of scraping echoed from the shadows of the cave, the onlookers peered into the blackness. Soon they would see the unforgettable. Jesus would speak the dead to life with one divine imperative.

But before he did, Jesus had something else to say. He looked up to heaven and guided the mourners’ thoughts in the same direction. He spoke, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41,42).

Jesus was about to do something that could not be ignored. It would confirm the faith of many and harden his enemies against him. Before he did it, he wanted to be sure that everyone understood what it meant. This sign, like all the others before it, would point to Jesus as the Anointed One. It would bring him glory, as well it should, but not to him alone. Jesus was not a fame-seeking rogue prophet but God’s Son made man. He wanted to ensure that the honor he would receive would also be given to his Father. This was his stated purpose that day (John 11:4,40). Truly this was his goal all his life.

A prayer unlike our selfish prayers

How our outwardly pious prayers fall short! Pastors pray for help in giving a good sermon. Parents pray for their child’s success. Workers pray for a jobs and then to do well. All of these are good and godly petitions. The problem is that often we make these requests seeking glory only for ourselves or our families, not for God. See how sin taints even our best efforts!

Not so with Jesus. He honored the Father in everything he did and said, thought and prayed. Only a short time later, as his enemies tightened their snare around him in Jerusalem, Jesus prayed again, “Father, glorify your name!” For the third recorded time, the Father spoke from heaven: “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28).

Jesus glorified God’s name with every mighty miracle and every quiet act of obedience. He honored it again as he was lifted up on the cross to atone for our sins, as he rose from the death, and then as he ascended triumphant to heaven. He fulfilled his purpose on this earth to bring glory to his Father by accomplishing our salvation. Therefore, we know that God has forgiven our self-glorifying desires and selfish prayers. We know that God accepts all of our petitions for the sake of his Son.

We’re happy to pray for the glory of a God like that!

Contributing editor Samuel Degner is pastor at Bethel, Menasha, Wisconsin. 

This is the fourth article in a nine-part series on Jesus and his prayer life.

 

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Author: Samuel C. Degner
Volume 102, Number 2
Issue: February 2015

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