“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it (John 14:12-14).
This is one of the most amazing and heart stirring passages of Scripture imaginable. Whenever we see written truly, truly in the Bible it means listen closely or pay strict attention to what is about to be said. Jesus tells the disciples, pay attention to what I tell you, “he who believes in me will also do the works that I do.” Throughout the Gospel of John we have a continual emphasis upon faith. Now, Jesus reveals the results of that belief in practical terms by stating that the disciples will do works and even greater works than He had done.
What does this mean? This passage has to mean more than just miracles, acts of love or acts of humility since it is impossible to think of us performing greater miracles than raising the dead or dying for the lost. Greater works can’t mean more works or doing more things either as if the church could do more works or things than Jesus did.
There is a clue to help us out, “because I go to the Father.” Here is the centrality of why we, who believe, are able to do the works of Jesus; it is because Jesus is going to the Father. How does that clarify anything? Let’s look at another verse in John 5 that parallels what we are talking about here in verses 12-14. “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.” (v. 20)
Now the interesting aspect of John 5 is the context that John puts Jesus’ words. They are set in such a way to introduce the two great themes of judgment and life and resurrection (John 5:21-29). “The life giving power of the Son depends in turn on the Son’s death, resurrection and exaltation.” D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to Matthew p. 496
Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, redemption was a promise, but after these events and the coming of the Holy Spirit everything changed. The followers of Jesus have been able to proclaim the gospel message with clarity and power ever since the Cross. Only after Pentecost, for example, did the Apostles and other followers of Jesus really understand what Jesus had been preaching and teaching throughout His ministry. It was like a light went on and in one day three thousand people came to Christ through their Spirit filled preaching.
I believe John 14:12-14 is revealing to us that the great works we as Christians are to do is witnessing to the world about the life, death, resurrection and power of God to transform the lost to redeemed. That is why Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name I will do it.” (v. 13, 14)
God isn’t telling us in these verses that if we ask for a new car we are going to get it, or if we ask for a new television it will pop up in the living room. He is telling us that when we pray (whatever you ask) in His name for the lost of this world God will listen and minister on behalf of those people. This has to be the greatest news in Scripture. Those of you who pray for your lost family members, neighbors, friends and co-workers never give up. God promises us “that whatever you ask in my name, I will do it,” and the reason for doing it is that, “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Amen, Amen.
The concept of glory in the Bible means the goodness of God and that goodness is manifested in His graciousness and mercy. (See Exodus 33:18-20; 34:6-7). It is no wonder that the new covenant promise in Jeremiah 31:33 is that God would write the law on their hearts.
Joel 2 is a great call for repentance from a dead dry religion to a dynamic Spirit filled relationship with God based on faith and love. “ ‘Yet even now,’ says the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and bounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil.” (v. 12-13)
Do you see in Joel 2 the same words, “gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love,” as found in Exodus 33 and 34? This is the message we have to proclaim to a lost world. By the way, Joel 2 was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2:16-20). And this same cycle as portrayed in Acts will be carried out again in our own day. The same blessings will fall upon us, the same gifts will be manifested and it will be for the same purpose; that God will be glorified through the Son.
“And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2: 21). That is what happened at Pentecost and will happen when revival takes ahold of us and fills us with a desire to share the crucified, risen Jesus with the lost. Our ministry will not come back to us barren because Jesus proclaims that it won’t. (John 14:13-14)
On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the crucified, risen Lord who now ministers at the right hand of God (Acts 2:23-33). When the people heard this we are told in verse 37 that, “they were cut to the heart,” just like Joel 2 said would have to take place when true repentance happens. This is what Jeremiah 31:33 states when talking about the law being written in the heart.
What is the law that is written on the heart? John 13:34 explains, “A new commandment I give to you; that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
Let’s go back to John 14 again and this time look at verse 15-17, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor (Comforter, Advocate) to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him, you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.”
Compassion, love, grace and mercy are all summed up in the call to love our neighbor. This is the driving power of our witness to the world. We are to reflect the love of God that leads people to have the hardness of their hearts cut by the mercy and graciousness of Jesus. What a privilege we have to be called into partnership with God to proclaim the good news of His Son Jesus to a lost world.
It is not us, however, that prepares the hearts of people to receive Jesus, it is not our words that persuade, it is not our intellect or skill in speaking that brings penitent hearts to Jesus; that is the work of the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit whispers the truth of the Gospel into the hearts of people, the Holy Spirit proclaims truth through us, the Holy Spirit leads us and guides us to those people who have responded to His promptings.
This post could go on and on but we will save further thoughts for other posts. Let me just sum up a few things before ending. When we believe in the atoning death of Jesus, His resurrection and ministry at the right hand of God, we have something to say to the world. This proclamation about Jesus is the great work that we do in His name. We are promised that when we pray Jesus goes with us through our witness.
We are motivated to proclaim this gospel because we love Jesus (John 14:15) and that love is manifested through the new commandment to love one another (John 13:34). This is what gives our witness power. When people see Jesus in us they respond. And this is all made possible, not by what we do, how much we pray, how good we are, what wonderful speakers we are, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
* As the world sits by persecution of Christians continues. In 2014 there was more global persecution of Christians than any other year in recent history. Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod of Syriac Orthodox church in Iraq describes the situation as “genocide” and “ethnic classing”. Please take the time each day pray for these people who are suffering for their faith in Christ and that those in this world who have the authority and power to change this injustice and will stand up against this atrocity! Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/