Look at the Lord’s Thankful Heart
Matt 11:25-26, Matt 26:26-28, John 11:32-44
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Nov. 20, 2011
*In 2009, Mary and I got to go to my 40th high school reunion. One of the best parts of that trip back to Georgia was eating breakfast with Gary & Lisa. They were my brother’s best friends in high school. Gary has been through a lot of troubles over the years. Thirteen years ago, he was thrown 60 feet in a motorcycle wreck. Of course, Gary almost died. He lost an eye, has one leg shorter than the other, and has been through 20 surgeries. But at breakfast he said, “You can always look around and see someone else that’s had it a lot worse than you.”
*Gary has a great attitude.
-He is thankful for his loving wife of 38 years.
-Thankful for his 3 daughters and his 7 grandchildren.
-Thankful he can see. -- Thankful he is learning to play the guitar.
-Thankful that although his mom was too sick with cancer to come to church for his baptism, she got to see it on TV. The large church they attend never shows baptisms on TV, but that day, by the grace of God, they did.
*Gary is thankful for all of God’s blessings in his life, and his thankful heart is an inspiration to me. You see, thanksgiving is a contagious thing. And one of the best places we can catch it is from the Lord Himself.
*Jesus was thankful. And He wants us to have a thankful heart like His.
-But what stirred the Lord to give thanks? -- The Bible gives us at least 3 helpful examples.
1. In Matthew 11, Jesus was thankful for the Heavenly Father’s revelation.
*In this chapter the Lord rebuked the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because so many of those proud, hard-hearted people refused to repent. But at the same time, Jesus was thankful for the Father’s revelation. And we see this example of the Lord’s gratitude in Matt 11:25-26:
25. At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.
26. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.
*Jesus said, “I thank You, (or I praise You) Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”
*What we see here is God rejecting the proud, and revealing Himself to the humble hearted. God rejects the proud. The Father hides spiritual truth from those who are blinded by the pride of worldly wisdom.
*Listen to vs. 25&26 from the New Living Translation:
25. Then Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike.
26. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!
*William Barclay explained: “Here Jesus was speaking out of experience, the experience that the Rabbis and the wise men rejected him, and the simple people accepted him. The intellectuals had no use for him; but the humble welcomed him.
*We must be careful to see clearly what Jesus meant here.
-He is not condemning intellectual power.
-What he is condemning is intellectual pride.
*As Plummer has it, ‘The heart, not the head, is the home of the gospel.’
-It is not (smartness) which shuts the gospel out; it is pride.
-It is not stupidity which allows the gospel in. -- it is humility.” (1)
*You could be the smartest, best educated person in the whole world.
-But if you will not open your heart to God in simple, child-like trust, you will never be saved.
*God rejects the proud. But He reveals Himself to the humble hearted. And Jesus was most thankful for the Father’s perfect wisdom in this matter.
*Aren’t you glad you don’t have to be the smartest person in Caldwell Parish to be saved! Now you may be the smartest person in Caldwell Parish, but that won’t save you for a minute! God hides spiritual truth from the proud, and He reveals Himself to the humble hearted. This way, all the glory goes to God.
*Timothy Smith explained: -You are nothing without God!
-Think of it. You cannot boast to God about your goodness.
-You don’t impress officials at NASA with a paper airplane.
-You don’t boast about your crayon sketches in the presence of Picasso.
-You don’t claim equality with Einstein because you can write H2O.
-And you can’t impress God by your success. (2)
*But God has Good News for you today! He loves you in spite of your ungodly, selfish, sinful ways. Jesus Christ died on the cross to take the punishment for your sins. And He rose again to give eternal, abundant life to all who will turn to Him in faith. Jesus is calling out to you today to give up on yourself and put your hope in Him.
*God rejects the proud, but He reveals Himself to the humble hearted. And Jesus was thankful for the Father’s revelation.
2. But He was also thankful for the Father’s resources.
*We see this example of the Lord’s gratitude in Matt 26:26-28.
-On the night before He died on the cross, Jesus shared His last supper with His disciples.
26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body.''
27. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.
28. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
*Jesus gave thanks for the bread and the wine. He knew that these provisions came from our Heavenly Father. All of our resources ultimately come from God. There is no limit to the good things God can provide, because everything in the universe belongs to Him!
*Several years ago astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics found a white dwarf star in the constellation of Centaurus.
-This star has a diamond core that is 1,864 miles wide! It weighs 2.27 thousand trillion trillion tons, and it measures 10 billion trillion trillion carats. That’s a one followed by 34 zeroes! (3)
*Talk about a big ring!
-God is more that able to provide everything we will ever need!
 But here we see that Jesus was thankful for even the smallest things. It was just a little bread, just a little wine, but the Lord was thankful. Jesus gave thanks for the smallest things.
*Robert Govoni explains that Jesus “gave thanks because He could see beyond the material to the spiritual. He gave thanks because He could see beyond the bread and wine to the God Who provided them both. To Jesus even the smallest morsel of food was not trivial. All pointed back to its Maker and Giver.
*This is true not only for bread and wine, but every good thing that we might enjoy. We see so many people today that put a separation between the material and the spiritual. According to these people cars, bicycles, forks and knives, watermelon, steak, turkey, milk, vegetables, game boys, and computers are totally separate from religion, faith, prayer, God and worship.
*They say the only place religion belongs is in a church.
-They say there is no place for Christian faith in education, in government, in business, even in our personal lives.” (4)
*But those people are wrong. Every good thing comes from God. So Jesus gave thanks for all of the Father’s resources, even the smallest things.
 Jesus also gave thanks in the hardest times.
*Jesus gave thanks even as the crushing weight of the cross drew near.
-He trusted His Heavenly Father to provide.
-He trusted His Heavenly Father to see Him through to the other side of death.
-And so can we.
*James Doyle tells us: “As a 5 year old I would pretend to fall asleep during the evening worship service! If I did, I knew my dad would carry me home. I would do this because we walked to and from church. It was about one mile each way.
*Being little wasn’t my problem. The length wasn’t my problem. I enjoyed the walk with my family. However, my older brothers teased me by telling me that in one of the fields we’d walk through there was a ‘boogey man’ who would ‘get me.’ Now that scared me!
*One night I really did fall asleep. Dad picked me up. I woke up right away but continued to pretend to be asleep as he carried me. That night we went right through that frightening field and I was not one bit afraid. I felt the warmth, the strength and the protection of my dad’s arms. To this day, some 50 plus years later, I can still ‘feel’ his arms and ‘hear’ his breathing as I remember his ultimate protection. So, it wasn’t long until I would constantly pretend to fall asleep on the pew, knowing I could go through that frightening experience safe in my dad’s arms! (5)
*And church, we are safe in the arms of our Heavenly Father. He will provide everything we need in this world. And when it comes to death, He will see us safely through, all the way home to Heaven. Thank God!
*Jesus was thankful for the Father’s resources.
3. But He was also thankful for His relationship with the Father.
*God’s Word gives us an example of this gratitude in the story of Lazarus, so please turn to John 11.
*Remember the background: In John 11, Jesus was getting very close to the cross, and the Lord’s good friend Lazarus has died. But Jesus was about to perform one of the most amazing miracles you can imagine. He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, not after he had been dead for 4 minutes or 4 hours. Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead after he had been dead for 4 whole days!
*Down in vs. 43&44, Jesus simply cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!'' And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go.''
*When the Lord first arrived on that scene of grief, He was moved to tears by the pain of Lararus’ loved ones. Jesus was also burdened by the unbelief He saw in so many of the people. Vs. 35 simply tells us: “Jesus wept.”
 But along with those tears, Jesus experienced great gratitude.
*In this passage Jesus was thankful for His relationship with His Heavenly Father. We see this gratitude in vs. 39-42:
39. Jesus said, "Take away the stone.'' Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.''
40. Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?''
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.''
*Jesus was thankful for the rock-solid relationship He had with His Heavenly Father. Jesus was thankful to know that He was always in perfect oneness with the Father and thankful to know that the Father always heard His prayers.
*Now by the grace of God, WE can have a close relationship with the Heavenly Father. It comes through faith in Jesus Christ:
-Trusting in His cross...
-Trusting in the price Jesus paid for our sins...
-Trusting in the power of His resurrection to give us eternal life.
*When we trust in the Lord, His Father becomes our Father. And we never get to the end of things to be thankful for. But above all, we can be thankful for the relationship we have with God. Our Heavenly Father is never far away. He is always on the job, always there to watch over His children.
*Jesus experienced great gratitude for His relationship with the Heavenly Father. Thank God that through Jesus Christ we can also be sons and daughters of God!
 But also notice here that Jesus expressed His gratitude...
*In vs. 41b&42, Jesus said:
41. . . “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.”
*Jesus openly expressed His gratitude to God, so that others would trust in the Lord. And God wants us to do the same thing. It is a great way for us to witness about Jesus.
*Your expression of gratitude can encourage someone else. It can inspire someone. It can even help other people come to faith in Jesus Christ. Your expression of heartfelt gratitude can change someone’s life forever.
*Author and Pastor Chuck Swindoll is a perfect example for us.
-Listen to part of his testimony from the difficult days of World War II:
*“I recall, as a little barefoot boy with a cowlick of snow-white hair on my forehead, standing erect in my classroom and repeating the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ one Thanksgiving season. Our nation was at war and times were hard. My teacher had lost her husband on the blood washed shores of Normandy.
*As we later bowed our heads for prayer she wept aloud. I did too. All the class joined in. She stumbled through one of the most moving expressions of gratitude and praise that ever emerged from a soul plunged in pain.
*At that time in my young life, I fell strangely in love with Thanksgiving. Lost in sympathy and a boy's pity for his teacher, I walked home very slowly that afternoon. Although only a child, I had profound feelings of gratitude for my country -- my friends -- my school -- my church -- my family.
*I swore before God that I would fight to the end to keep this land free from foes who would want to take away America's distinctives and the joys of living in this good land. -- I have never forgotten my childhood promise. I never shall. (6)
*Christian, go out of your way to express your gratitude for all of the blessings of God. Especially for the relationship we have with the Father through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus was thankful for His relationship with the Father.
*Christians, go out of your way to express your gratitude to God. Go out of your way to openly give thanks for all of the blessings of God, especially for the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
*Jesus was thankful. And He wants us to have a heart like His.
-So, open your heart to trust in the Lord...
-And let your heart overflow with gratitude to God.
1. Adapted from the Barclay Study Bible - THE ACCENT OF AUTHORITY - Matt.11:25-27
2. SermonCentral sermon “The Wealth of Poverty” by Timothy Smith - Matt 5:1-3
Sermons.logos.com sermon: “Who We Are - God's Special Treasure” by Ronald Wyncoop - Exo 19:5-6, Deut 14:2, 1 Pet 2:9 - 091105
4. Adapted from Sermons.logos.com sermon: “We just need to say Thanks” by Robert Govoni - 1 Thess 5:16-18 - Jan 2008
5. SermonCentral illustration contributed by James Doyle
6. Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 424. (Source: Sermonillustrations.com Thanksgiving illustrations - 111802)