41.And Jesus again raised his eyes. This was the token of a mind truly prepared for prayer; for before any one calls on God aright, he must be brought into communication with him, and this can only be done when, raised above the earth, he ascends even to heaven. True, this is not done by the eyes; for hypocrites, who are plunged in the deep filth of their flesh, appear to draw down heaven to them by their stern aspect; but what they only pretend to do must be sincerely accomplished by the children of God. And yet he who raises his eyes to heaven ought not, in his thoughts, to limit God to heaven; for He is present everywhere, and fills heaven and earth, (Jer_23:24.) But as men can never free themselves from gross imaginations, so as not to form some low and earthly conception about God, unless when they are raised above the world, Scripture sends them to heaven, and declares that heaven is the habitation of God, (Isa_66:1.)
So far as relates to the eyes, it is not a custom that must be perpetually observed, so that without it prayer is not lawful; for the publican, who prays with his face cast down to the ground, does not the less, on this account, pierce heaven by his faith, (Luk_18:13.) Yet this exercise is profitable, because men are aroused by it to seek God; and not only so, but the ardor of prayer often affects the body in such a manner that, without thinking of it, the body follows the mind of its own accord. Certainly, we cannot doubt that, when Christ raised his eyes to heaven, he was carried towards it with extraordinary vehemence. Besides, as all his thoughts were with the Father, so he also wished to bring others to the Father along with him.
Father, I thank thee. He begins with thanksgiving, though he has asked nothing; but though the Evangelist does not relate that he prayed in a form of words, yet there can be no doubt whatever that, before this, there was a prayer, for otherwise it could not have been heard. And there is reason to believe that he prayed amidst those groanings which the Evangelist mentions; for nothing could be more absurd than to suppose that he was violently agitated within himself, as stupid men are wont to be. Having obtained the life of Lazarus, he now thanks the Father By saying that he has received this power from the Father, and by not ascribing it to himself, he does nothing more than acknowledge that he is the servant of the Father For, accommodating himself to the capacity of men, he at one time openly proclaims his Divinity, and claims for himself whatever belongs to God; and, at another time, he is satisfied with sustaining the character of a man, and yields to the Father the whole glory of Divinity. Here both are admirably brought together by the Evangelist in one word, when he says that the Father heard Christ, but that he gives thanks, that men may know that he was sent by the Father, that is, that they may acknowledge him to be the Son of God. The majesty of Christ being incapable of being perceived in its true elevation, the power of God, which appeared in his flesh, gradually raised to this elevation the gross and dull senses of men. For since he intended to be wholly ours, we need not wonder if he accommodates himself to us in various ways; and as he even allowed himself to be emptied (Phi_2:7) for us, there is no absurdity in saying that he abases himself on our account.