|Posted on February 12, 2020 at 12:25 AM|
One of the most exciting promises Jesus gave his followers is recorded in John 14: 12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” The context of this promise is his last “ministry training class” in the upper room on the night before he was crucified. He was preparing them for their ministries after he departed this world with assurances that his leaving was best for them.
Naturally, they were confused and in shock at the news of his leaving them since they fully expected him to set up an earthly kingdom at that time. Although he called on them to trust him and explained that he was leaving to prepare a place for them and would come to get them, they were still very anxious and sorrowful. No doubt the promise that they would continue to do his work seemed more threatening than encouraging at the time. In effect Jesus was saying “I’m leaving you here to love others the way I have”. It’s doubtful that any of them saw this promise as a good thing.
Notice that Jesus did not restrict this promise to the disciples with him in the upper room. He stated that it applied to “whoever believes on me”. That means that we who believe on Jesus have been given the same promise those first disciples received and will likely see it as somewhat threatening rather than encouraging just as they did. For most believers the idea of doing the works that Jesus did seems more like an impossible dream than a promise. And anyone who takes it seriously may be thought of as some sort of fanatic with questionable mental abilities. Our natural response to this same promise today is very similar to those who heard it in the upper room.
Extraordinary and threatening as it may seem, however, the idea that we can do the works Jesus did on this earth is an exciting proposition. Considering the miracles that Jesus performed it is especially exciting to think of feeding the multitudes, turning the water into wine, healing the lame and crippled, casting out demons, and raising the dead! But is that what Jesus meant by the “works that I do”? Jesus didn’t promise that we would do the works he did, he promised that we would do the works that he is doing. I won’t rule out the miraculous acts as a possibility, but that is not the majority of what he did or what he is now doing. The miracles were simply signs that pointed to a greater reality of who Jesus was and is today and what he came to do for us. In short, the works he did and does today is better described as a revelation of the Father’s love.
The real significance of this promise is that we are given the opportunity to “be Christ” as his ambassadors on this earth. As such we are given the privilege of fulfilling our high calling of God in Christ Jesus by loving others around us in the same way he loves us. Sharing the gospel with those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” we can raise the dead. Teaching others to walk in grace and truth rather than law and lies we can heal the lame. The works Jesus does are infinite and eternal, and we have the privilege of doing them with him.