Greater Than These
[Jesus said,] “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he he will do, because I go to my Father.” John 14:12
“Greater than these works Jesus did? You’ve got to be kidding!” That’s the way most of us respond when we weighed Jesus ‘ world, but we’re missing the point. We’re thinking about healing the sick, giving site to the blind, walking on water, and raising people from the dead. Jesus wasn’t saying that we do more of these things than he did. Those aren’t the primary reasons He came anyway.
What was the primary “work” He did? He took the gospel to people. Jesus came to communicate the incredibly good news of God‘s forgiveness, love, and acceptance to the lost and dying world.
Where did He do it? During His brief life on earth, Jesus was confined to a very small patch of ground, just a few miles from one town to the next in the backwater country of Palestine.
When Jesus went to the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit to live inside each believer. Today, there are estimated to be a billion Christians worldwide. With the Spirit’s direction and life – changing power, God is using us to take the gospel to far more people throughout the world than Jesus met in tiny Palestine. That’s the point Jesus was making.
The question for all of us is, Are we doing our part? Are we actively engaged in telling friends and neighbors about Christ, praying for missionaries, giving to fund missions efforts, and going to see what God is doing throughout the world? If we are, then we’re doing “greater works“ than he did because collectively we’re going to more people to tell them about him.
“Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all, pray“
R. A. Torrey
As we read the story of the Acts church, we find that it began with 120 believers meeting together in prayer for about a week after Jesus ascended. On the Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was poured out on those believers, they began to proclaim the gospel in the streets of Jerusalem in the languages of those who had come for the festivities. Acts records that the listeners heard the gospel in their own tongue as the 120 were enabled by the Holy Spirit. Not quite understanding, they began to ask questions. The two most important questions of the day were, “What does this mean?” and What shall we do?” Peter responds and Acts says there were about 3000 men added to the church that day. Later as God works through him and John in the healing of the lame man, Acts says that another 5000 were added to the church. As we continue to read the book of Acts it tells us that daily there were those added to the church and later it says the church grew and multiplied. That’s what Jesus was saying when He said we would do greater works after He went back to the Father.
What does theirs mean for us? We are certainly more than 120 or 8120 strong today. We are somewhere around 42 million professing Christians(6% of the 7 billion). That means that the church ought to be bursting at the seams. Instead we see decline especially in the western regions. One might ask why this is.
Perhaps we have forgotten the primary purpose that Jesus gave to us. In order to to the works He did and greater works we must be busy doing what He did. And what was that you ask? Building a bridge between fallen humanity and God was the work of Christ. Oh we aren’t being asked to hang on a cross but we are commanded to take up our cross and deny ourselves. To engage in the work of Jesus requires being less engaged in other things.
What would you say that the most important thing that people need? Is it more food, better shelter, better pay, more recreation and such? Would that satisfy their inner longing for peace or joy? Would all the things available in the world be enough to help them face death?
Our bodies have needs if they are to continue to live. Six minutes without air causes irreparable damage and most often death. Three days without water dehydrates the body to the point of death. Somewhere around forty days is the limits to go without food.
But a soul without Christ faces eternity in torment without any possibility of reprieve. That’s why the work of Jesus has to become the work of every professing Christian. All-not a select few have been called to this work.
Some of us are fearful, embarrassed to show our faith in the One who hung naked on a public cross, who was beaten on our behalf, mocked and died a criminal’s death for us. The Bible says that He is not ashamed to call us His friends. Can we truly be completely His and never mention Him to our friends and family?
Can we love Him even in a small way compared to His love for us and keep silent about Him? Can we just ignore the truth that those who die without Christ are lost for eternity in hell?
I know this is an uncomfortable subject for many. We excuse ourselves from doing the work of Christ lest we offend or hurt someone’s feelings or invade their privacy. We are told that we shouldn’t engage with those of other religions, that we are to tolerate and accept that all religions lead to God. That may be the worldview that has crept into the church but it’s in violation to the One who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.”
Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up from some other place [on the stone wall], that one is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [the protector and provider]. 3 The doorkeeper opens [the gate] for this man, and the sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And [knowing that they listen] he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture]. 4 When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call. So Jesus said again, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I am the Door for the sheep [leading to life]. 9 I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).
In a couple days we will celebrate Easter. What does it mean if not that Christ the Son of God died on a cross and rose again on the third day? Why celebrate Easter at all if we don’t truly believe that the only way to salvation is through Christ and His atoning blood? That’s what the 120 believers believed and what Peter said in answer to the question,”What shall we do?” As Peter explains the healing of the lame man, he has this to say:
“let it be known and clearly understood by all of you, and by all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you [demanded be] crucified [by the Romans and], whom God raised from the dead—in this name [that is, by the authority and power of Jesus] this man stands here before you in good health. This Jesus is the stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief Cornerstone . And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].”
Let us then rise up as the people of God and put our hands and hearts to the work of Jesus.
Dr. John Thompson