December 7, 2018

Greater Works

By: Larry Shaffer

Leigh with our sweet niece, Emily

Greater Works

John 14, part five 

Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because, I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it. 

If you love Me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. 

A person with aspirations of sensationalism might read Jesus’ promise that they’ll do greater works than He and be drawn to thoughts of healing, calming storms or creating food out of nothing to feed thousands. God can do whatever He wants. And He can do miracles in and through us. But the concept of a miracle worker touring the world performing miracles in Jesus’ name is not what Jesus is speaking about here. I simply don’t trust those that claim such power. 

Jesus’ miracles were needed to validate that HE WAS GOD. Jesus did them to make it crystal clear that HE is the Messiah of God. The greater works that Jesus is promising is not power to do miracles but power to impact people with the gospel to a greater extent than He accomplished while on earth. Let me explain.

Those that labor to take the gospel to their community, to their city, to their country and even around the world; those who suffer hardship in their commitment to reach the lost; those who plant the seeds of the gospel verbally or through written words; they are doing works that go way beyond what Jesus did during His three-year ministry on earth. 

Jesus’ earthly ministry was small to the extent of geography and limited to the Jewish/Samaritan people. The initiation of this promise by Jesus, that the disciples would do “greater works”, is seen in Acts 1:8 when it says: 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and Samaria and in Judea (expanding what Jesus began) and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  There it is. There’s the greater works. Being witnesses through the power of the Holy Spirit with far reaching impact.

The disciples and those of us who follow Jesus will do the work of Jesus way beyond the area of the holy land, where Jesus lived. The disciples, in their lifetimes, took the gospel further and farther than Jesus did. And now, we are part of taking the gospel around the world. Begin where you are today! 

Jesus then says, if you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. It’s easy for some to take this verse out of context and make Jesus a magic genie to do their bidding. Of course, that is silly. The context indicates that when it comes to doing great works for God, we should ask for God’s blessings and pray big for extensive results from our best efforts. 

Paul wrote about this in Ephesians 3:20. He says that through the power of the Spirit and Christ who dwells within us, we should praise God, who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works with us…  God does the extensive work through us by the power of the Holy Spirit who is within us. And He does beyond what we ask. I guess Jesus wasn’t worried about overpromising when he says ‘ask me anything in my name and I’ll do it,’ because we never really ask big enough. God will step in and do beyond all that we ask or think… WOW!

So, once again, what are the works of Jesus we are to do in greater measure? What does it mean to be His witnesses, even to the remotest part of the world? The following statement may surprise you, but please let me clarify it fully.  

This is not about doing charity work only; this is not about feeding the poor only; this is not about giving comfort and care to hurting people only. Those efforts certainly bring about good in this world. But for disciples of Christ, those efforts are the means to the real work which is taking the saving gospel of Jesus to others. This is work of eternal impact. We should do charity work, we should feed the poor, visit the prisoner, care and comfort hurting people because it is the right thing to do. And it provides a means to share the love and grace of the saving gospel of Jesus. The greater works of Jesus are to do these things as a means to share the gospel of Jesus and plants seeds of ETERNAL impact. Think big. Ask big. Take action. Start where you are today. 

Jesus, my requests are too small. My mind and my heart doubt. Help my unbelief; expand my limited faith. Enlarge what I ask for in Your Name!