Jesus said, “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–John 14:12
The carnal mind reads this passage and naturally thinks about jaw-dropping displays of great power and miracles. Viewing this verse in that manner has caused many believers to chase after signs and miracles instead of allowing them to follow us. For others, this verse has been a great obstacle.
This passage is often misunderstood by believers and unbelievers alike. Skeptics read this and call Jesus a liar because Christians aren’t walking on water across the English Channel. Many Theologians refer to this as a “difficult” verse, and struggle to explain it.
The problem is that we read this verse from our point of view, and we don’t stop to think about the viewpoint of the One who said it. To easily understand what Jesus was saying to us, we have to get out of our heads and look into the mind of Jesus to see what He was thinking.
Was Jesus primarily motivated by POWER, or was He primarily motivated by COMPASSION?
…If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.–1 Cor. 13:2
In the mind of Jesus, what did GREATER look like?
On the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”–Mark 9:34-35
What kind of WORKS did Jesus think He was doing? Based on Christ’s motives, did He PRIMARILY see them as works of great POWER ? Or did He PRIMARILY see them as works of COMPASSION by a humble servant meeting a need?
When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.–Matthew 14:14
Jesus did miracles, but they were motivated by compassion and a need to teach and edify others. They were works of compassion. That is the key to understanding John 14:12. Jesus saw His own works as works of humble compassionate service. Power was just the method, but not the basis. Jesus is not impressed by power. He is impressed by love and “faith which works by love”. He was greatly impressed by the lady who lovingly poured her perfume on Him and called that a “beautiful work”(Mark 14:6).
What does Jesus have to say about those who spend their life pursuing a lust for power and believing that “Greater Works” are necessarily works of power?
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’–Matt. 7:22-23
What does Jesus have to say about those who spend their life pursuing Him in humble compassion?
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’–Matt. 25:34-40
Jesus said, “they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”. How are we doing greater works?
Jesus held children, but many of you, by His grace, have gone further and adopted children.
Jesus did not get to see his cousin, John the Baptist, while he was in prison. But many of you have answered His call, and you gone further by visiting prisoners and sending support to others who do the same.
Jesus only had the clothes on his back and had no home to take anyone in. Many of you have gone further and given clothes, shoeboxes. You have opened your home and let folks sleep on your couch and eat your food.
I’ve been personally involved in praying and watching my friend see again after decades of blindness. My wife and I have witnessed another friend have her hearing fully restored in an instant. I believe in signs and wonders. They do happen and they FOLLOW them that believe. But we should never be deceived into lustfully pursuing them. We are called to pursue Christ and serve in love. There is nothing wrong in asking for God to work in power…Just don’t be deceived and go lusting after it. Be motivated by the things that motivated Christ.