For a Thanksgiving sermon this year, I did something I’d never done. I got down my concordance and looked up all the instances in which Jesus is specifically mentioned as giving thanks. I found that there are four things for which the Bible says He gave thanks.
#1: In John 6:11,23, Jesus gives thanks for the food by which He feeds the multitudes. In this passage, that food is five barley loaves and two small fishes, and those multitudes are 5,000 men. In another passage, Matthew 15:36, He gives thanks for the seven loaves of bread and few small fish that feed 4,000 men. Obviously, this teaches us that we should give thanks for food.
#2: In John 11:41, Jesus gives thanks that God the Father has heard His prayers concerning the death of Lazarus. This shows us that we should give thanks that God the Father, despite all of His majesty, glory, and power, will take the time to hear our prayers.
#3: In Luke 10:21, Jesus gives thanks that God the Father hides spiritual truths from the earthly wise and prudent and reveals them to “babes.” This teaches us that we should give thanks that God doesn’t have to depend upon the world’s intellectual elite to get His message out or His work done. He is perfectly willing and able to work through common folk. (This same lesson is taught in Matthew 11:25 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.)
#4: In Luke 22:17-19, Jesus gives thanks for the symbolic elements He uses in the Lord’s Supper. The bread symbolizes His body and the cup symbolizes His blood. This teaches us that we should give thanks for Christ’s death. After all, it is because of that death that any of us have the opportunity to believe in Christ as Savior and be granted salvation (forgiveness of all sin, eternal life, entrance into heaven).
Of course, I’m not saying that Jesus never gave thanks for anything outside these four categories. The Bible in no way gives us a complete record of His earthly life and ministry. But for those of us who believe that all the words of the Bible are divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), we can find great meaning in those facts the Bible actually includes. We have to figure that if they made the cut God had a good reason for putting them in there.
So, this Thanksgiving, take the time to thank the Lord for these four things. I can tell you from firsthand experience since Sunday that you will find this a helpful spiritual experience. And that will allow you to have a better Thanksgiving all the way around.