JOHN 11:41-44 | "So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, '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.'
"When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'”
“I am the tea of the world!”
This is a sentence I never expected to hear at all – much less from God. But one day I was thanking him for speaking to me and telling him how much I loved our conversations, and the reply I heard was something along these lines: “Yes, I infuse myself into everything and make it great. I'm the tea of the world!” For the record, I consider God's choice of this metaphor as proof of my absorption into English society!
I love this memory because God used humour to bring me closer to him in a moment of intimacy and joy. Thanking God for our relationship gave him the opportunity to expand and deepen it.
In John 11 Jesus prays, “I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me....” These words show the profound intimacy of Jesus and the Father. It is a closeness which is both trusted and celebrated by Jesus, who thanks God for always listening. What would our lives look like if we celebrated the little everyday acts of God — his listening, his metaphors, his infused “tea-ness”? At the very least, I think they would be more joyful! Moreover, what would life be if we celebrated the acts that had yet to take place?
This is what Jesus is doing here. He is coming to God in celebration, not only of their daily relationship, but of God's grace in raising Lazarus from the dead – which hasn’t even happened yet! Jesus's prayer is declarative, confident, and celebratory because it is operating from an intimate knowledge of God's heart for the situation. Essentially, Jesus' intimacy with God allows him to declare powerful truth over his circumstances.
I've found that truth breeds truth. When I declare the truth in thanksgiving about who God is and what he's done, our intimacy increases. He speaks to me much like when he used the tea metaphor, and this enables me to declare the truth of what he will do over my circumstances. A few weeks ago, I was walking into exams at school and, by practicing this, I declared: “Thank you that you can infuse yourself even into my exams!”
Praying out of a place of intimacy and thanksgiving is wonderful for the person praying, but Jesus also does it “for the benefit of the people standing here”. God has been showing me that my intimacy with him can be used to draw others close to him too. He has used his conversations with me, particularly his humour, to encourage my friends, who have in turn blessed me beyond measure by their obvious love for God. Jesus uses his close relationship with the Father, and the power displayed through it, to reveal the gospel to the people around him.
I think we are called to use our prayer to the same end. I think we are called to pray just as Jesus does here: declaring his truth over ourselves and other people, from a place of intimacy and thanksgiving, in order to reveal God to the people around us.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- What things are you grateful God has done for you in the past week?
- What things are you grateful that God is going to do for you in the next week?
- Who do you think your prayers can witness to in the next week? Think of a specific person or two.
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isabel Crawley is the daughter of Colin and C’havala Crawley, who are based in London and lead CRM's efforts throughout the United Kingdom. Isabel recently graduated high school and will be studying English Literature at Durham University this Fall.