Jesus says farewell – Part Four (John 14:12-14)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. So far, we’ve seen that Jesus is God’s authorised representative. He alone gives access to the Father, and is the only one qualified to make the Father known. Today, we focus on our role…

We are also God’s authorised representatives!

Believe it or not, Jesus tells us that we will do greater works than he has done:

John 14:12-14 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

How can we do greater things than Jesus? What can be greater than turning water into wine, healing the sick, raising Lazarus from the dead? This is a very puzzling statement, which has led to many scholarly opinions. But I think we get some clue from some similar statements elsewhere:

Luke 7:28 “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

And earlier in John:

John 5:20-21 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.

There seems to be a big change about to happen: a big shift which renders everything that has gone before somehow inferior. All the miracles Jesus has performed up until this point are of limited value. They impact one person, or a small group of people, in the here-and-now. The water that became wine eventually ran out. Those who were healed and raised from the dead eventually died. And the nations around Israel were left untouched.

But that was all about to change. Jesus was about to die for the sins of the world, bringing the offer of forgiveness to all. He was about to be raised to life again in victory. And he was about to return to the Father and send the Holy Spirit – as we’ll see next week – whose power would bring this message to the ends of the earth.

The works that the disciples would do – and the works that we do in spreading the gospel – are greater. Greater in that they have a global, eternal impact. The message that we proclaim as God’s authorised representatives has the power to bring eternal life. It’s done against the backdrop of Jesus’ completed work on the cross. No wonder John records Jesus’ final sentence ‘it is finished’. His work was done. History was changed. And now we get to be a part of that history as we bring the message of life to others.

To think about

As we finish our first week looking through Jesus’ farewell speech, I hope that makes you feel different. Firstly, knowing that you’ve trusted in God by trusting his authorised representative, his only son, Jesus. That he alone is the way, the truth, the life – the one who has made the Father known to us and gives us access to the Father.

And secondly, I hope you feel different knowing that you have a commission. That you too have been sent to be God’s representative, with his full authority. To do ‘greater’ works than mere miracles, because your task is to have an impact on other people’s eternity.

As you go off to work, to school, to uni, to whatever you do during the week, take John 14:12 with you. Write it down on something and read it throughout the day.

John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Remind yourself of who you are and what you’ve been called to do. Live and speak in such a way that when people want to get in touch with God, they’ll know where to find his agent.

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