41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
The prayer in 41 to 42 is the first of three prayers by Jesus in the gospel of John (12:27-28; 17:1-26).
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.
The sisters gave permission for the stone to be rolled away. They must have believed Jesus’ earlier promise.
And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said,
It was common for people to look to the heavens while praying.
All three prayers by Jesus in the gospel of John invoke the “Father.” These prayers also emphasize the mission of Jesus. Jesus did not say “our Father,” because His relationship to the Father is different and unique.
I thank You that You have heard Me.
Instead of beginning with a request, the Lord began with thanksgiving that the Father “heard” Him. Jesus knew that He was in the will of God by raising Lazarus from the dead. Because the Father had already answered that request, it was certain to occur.
And I know that You always hear Me,
It was not necessary for Jesus to exercise prayer at this moment because the Father had already given Him the authority to give life to the dead. He merely gave thanks for the Father’s previously answered prayer.
but [strong contrast] because of the people who are standing by I said this [spoken prayer],
Instead of praying now, He thanked the Father audibly for His answer to a previous prayer. Public prayers should be formed with the public in mind.
that [purpose] they may believe that You sent Me.”
The crowd watching the raising of Lazarus would see and believe that the Son was “sent” by the Father. It was important to Jesus that the sign of raising Lazarus from the dead be recognized by the public because it showed His authenticity. A believing response to the miracle is what will glorify God.
We glorify God by believing in His promises.
Jesus’ use of prayer should not be confused with a PR ploy. He did not operate by Madison Avenue methods. The purpose of His prayer was that His hearers would see God’s glory.
It is not sufficient to be impressed with the historical person of Christ; we must trust Him, believe in Him. Such trust in Christ brings eternal life. That is the reason Jesus performed miracles for us. We will see His glory as we believe His promises.