Anyone who has read the Bible invariably hits a Scripture that makes them stop and scratch their head in confusion. These texts are God’s way of getting our attention and causing us to pause and ponder.
One such Scripture is John 14:12 where Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
What in the world is Jesus talking about? How could we possibly do greater things than Jesus? In John’s gospel alone we’ve learned to this point in the story that the eternal God entered history as the God-man Jesus Christ, He has raised a dead guy named Lazarus, healed a blind man, and is on the brink of atoning for the sin of the world on the cross and defeating death through His resurrection. How could any Christian possibly do greater things than Christ?
The reference to “greater” does not, and obviously cannot, refer to greater in magnitude. Instead, it means greater in number. While on the earth, Jesus Christ the Son of God accepted the temporary limitations that came with a human body. Jesus was limited to being in one place at a time and ministering in one place at a time. After His death, burial, and resurrection the Spirit was sent to empower Christians to continue the ministry of Christ in greater numbers.
Today, Christianity continues to grow as believers in greater and greater numbers testify to the greater works of Jesus Christ. When Jesus spoke of these “greater works”, He had not yet died on the cross or risen from death and returned to heaven. Having completed His greater works, Jesus has now sent Christians filled with the Spirit to testify to what He has accomplished. One Bible commentator says it this way, “we might say that the disciples’ works were greater than his because they had the privilege of testifying by word and deed to the finished work of Christ, and the fuller coming of the kingdom that it ushered in, whereas Jesus’ ministry prior to his death and resurrection only foreshadowed these things.”(1)
Today, a few billion people on planet earth claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ is the biggest, longest lasting, and most diverse movement of any kind in the history of the world. Filled with the Spirit, Jesus’ people are ministering across the globe as Christ works through Christians to bring the hope, help, and healing that only Jesus provides. If you are a Christian, you are part of God’s plan to bring His works to the world.
In what significant ways have God’s people ministered to you? What people has God put in front of you to minister to?
(1)Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 4, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 297.