greater than Jesus?

The weekend offers a little extra time to consider, to perhaps dive a bit deeper into the Scriptures. Schedules can slow down a bit and offer more opportunities to think. So here is a topic and several scriptures to consider. Please share your own thoughts or comments.

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Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, all who have faith 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 14:11-12

 

The other day I was writing down notes on this place in John where Jesus says some pretty amazing things. I mean, have you ever really considered what Jesus is saying here in John 14? We will do greater things than Jesus did?!

That must be hyperbole right? Jesus just being Jesus—saying things for shock value and to get people’s attention, and then later it turns out he means something different than what it sounded like. That has to be it, right?

But it doesn’t seem so. You don’t see the subtle reveal and it turns out that what he really meant was a little different than first appeared. There isn’t the gathering of the disciples off to the side where Jesus helps them put the pieces together and explains it all. We don’t find this being one of the things that disciples misunderstood until after the resurrection and then suddenly it all clicks and they realize he meant something different than they thought. No, he just leaves it at this. And so do the disciples. And so does Paul. The Bible doesn’t offer further commentary on what jesus says here. At least not direct commentary.

So I was pondering this and questioning and considering what Jesus must mean and how could I do greater things than Jesus when I definitely don’t even do “as good as” things. And I was wondering at how frustrating it is to read things like this and considering just moving on and chalking it up to the millions of things in the Bible I don’t understand.

Then, later in the day I found myself reading Ann Voskamp’s writing on this same subject, on the same day I was reading about it. Weird. Or maybe God. Sometimes I’ve found it’s harder than you might think to distinguish between the two!

Ann wasn’t looking at the passage in John, but a related passage in Mark. It reads like this:

 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 16:17-18

You can read Ann’s whole writing on this passage here. It is well worth your time. And helpful in considering the words of John 14.

As for John 14, where does this leave us? What does it look like to do greater things than Jesus? I’ve never healed the sick. I’ve never commanded the dead to rise again. I’ve never walked on water. How could I do greater things than these?

I have however, had moments—brief though they may be—of living with resurrection power. With Jesus in me I have forgiven when it was beyond painful to do so. I have let go of habits and bitterness and hate. I have carried the whole of God in my heart and walked roads I would rather have run from. I have watch myself heal and heard the Spirit speak.

Is that what Jesus means? Are the greater things than what he did things we can do because of what he did?

 

Consider these words from John 14: “…all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”

 

What does that mean? What should we expect?

Please share your thoughts and questions.

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10 thoughts on “greater than Jesus?

  1. I believe the correct interpretation of us doing greater things than Jesus has to be in the sense that we and all Christians throughout the world have done a greater work in proclaiming the gospel of salvation to unbelievers than Jesus ever did in His earthly ministry. It is the only explanation. It is the spiritual works on this earth in broad range that we are doing for God that are greater than Jesus did in Israel alone. Thank you.

  2. i’m not sure that i’ve come down on any one side of the issue, but i think we have to at least consider a reading like that of liviu. because Jesus makes it clear that he must leave in order to send the Spirit, and that we’ll be better off with the Spirit present. i assume this has something to do with the Spirit’s ability to indwell, and/or with the Spirit’s ability to be in all places at one time — unlike Christ in fleshly form. the first understanding, the indwelling Spirit — along with Jesus’ talk of giving anything we ask from heaven — seems to lean the direction of miracles being performed in great ways. the second, Christ’s inability to be present everywhere, leans toward an understanding like liviu’s.

    i’m not sure where i fall, but i think i’m in the “both – and” category. i think Jesus is referring probably to both the quality of work and the quantity of work. but i’m not standing firmly in that belief. just ideas….

    • Thanks livius and jamesbrett. Good thoughts from both of you. I think what struck me most about this is just the sense that Jesus expected great things from us. Sometimes I feel like as followers of Jesus it’s so easy for us to become accustomed to our daily activitites that we lose sight of the opportunities to live and make great impacts for the kingdom of heaven.

      I think I agree with both of your thoughts here about the fact that Jesus’ leaving brought the Spirit to us and so we may live in that presence of God. Not to mention what you identified as the message we can proclaim. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection he proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Through his death and resurrection we can proclaim, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is here! Now!”

      I sense that in some way there may be even more here that I’ve yet to uncover or understand (as often I find to be the case with the words of Jesus), but I think we are on the right track!

      Any other thoughts you all may have would be welcome. I appreciate learning from one another.

  3. When Jesus speaks of us doing “greater things” than he did he means in number. Jesus’ ministry was only roughy three a half years long so he could only do so much while here on earth. We know that God’s greatest action was raising Jesus from the dead which means that if that’s what it meant for God then there isn’t anything “greater” in stature or importance (for lack of better words) that we can do but only greater in number as the body of Christ has had over 2,000 years to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Now, as for John 14. Jesus is being quite literal when he said we will do the same things. Name one thing that Jesus did that another man in the bible did not do in the New Testament? Jesus healed the sick and so did Peter, Paul, John and other disciples. Jesus walked on water and so did Peter (briefly, but we know it was his lack of faith in Jesus that kept him from making to Jesus without sinking). Jesus raised the dead and so did Paul. Jesus drove demons out and so did Philip. Jesus disappeared through the crowds and so did Philip after baptizing the Eunic. I myself have prayed for people just as Jesus tells us to and seen them healed immediately. Many of the “Word of Faith” ministries have medical
    documentation of miracles, the dead raised. I don’t demand God move like many accuse me of. I don’t claim to be God. It’s not my power that heals people but God’s power, His spirit (Romans 1:8) in me that allows me to do these things. “Whoever believes”, that’s the qualification. If we don’t believe that we can do these things then we are essentially saying, “Lord, I don’t believe you” and we won’t see these things come to pass. If you believe then these things will happen just as Jesus said they would. However, for sufficient faith we must have revelation, revelation comes from a good understanding and a good understanding comes from good teaching which is few and far between (and that’s being generous). If we have an open heart, open eyes and open ears then the Lord will reveal what the scriptures mean and you can DO just as Jesus did, what God desires you to do. God bless!

    • Thanks ROb for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the perspective you bring. I am curious, when you say so difinitively “When Jesus speaks of us doing ‘greater things’ than he did he means in number.” I wonder if thewre is biblical support for that interpretation. I am not certain if you I agree or disagree, but curious about such a difinitive statement without context of other paces where Jesus says we will do what he did only to more people. Again, I’m ntos aying I disagree, just curious about how you come to that interpretation.

      However, I will say I disagree when you say, “If you believe then these things will happen just as Jesus said they would. However, for sufficient faith we must have revelation, revelation comes from a good understanding and a good understanding comes from good teaching.” This implies that there is a certain level of faith necessary to bring the right unerstanding before God can use us in these types of ways. Idon’t think the Bible suports that kind of interpretation.

      Jesus speaks of faith the size of a mustard seed and time ad again we see the disciples being used by God without any sort of correct understanding. Thanks for bringig your thoughts to this, and I definitely rappreciate what you aresaying. I just think I see it differently. I cannot count the number of times God has used me n dynamic and powerful ways while I was utterly clueless to his prupose or meaning. SOmetimes, i think God prefers to use us this way to ensure that we know it;’s all about him and not aboutus.

  4. Any time!
    I will say, just to clarify, I’m not saying that we need to know God’s purposes or meanings in order to do things as you stated at the end. Obviously no one has His knowledge and I too have had things happen when I didn’t know why or what for. Eventually it is shown but that’s all about willingness and obedience but that’s a whole other topic. If your heart is for Him then He can work through you but there is a limit to what can be done if faith is lacking. Faith is how God’s kingdom operates.

    About the mustard seed, keep in mind that it’s a seed. And like any other seed it must be nutured, cultivated and cared for in order for it to grow. This is the picture of faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God and it grows as we are continually filled with His word. This is why people don’t get born again and start raising people from the dead for the most part. It takes time to build. Jesus was also well aware that very close to nobody had faith that small.

    About my belief in what “greater things” means. I can’t point it out in scripture it’s just revelation that I received. I know that’s not good enough for some but I’m only here to please the Lord. However, if you look at it logically, the closest person to walking JUST as Jesus did was Paul who wrote two thirds of our New Testament and he did the same things that Jesus did. Again, if the greatest act in history was God’s raising Jesus from the dead how can anybody do anything greater? Jesus wasn’t lying when he said that, that’s for sure so what’s our other option?

    • Rob, thanks for the added thoughts on what you were saying. I didn’t necessarily disagree that Jesus was talking about numbers being why what we do is greater. I was just curios as to where youw ere coming from on that. I don’t have a problem with people saying that what they have is a “revelation” so long as when I look into the Bible I don’t see anything that contradicts what they are saying.

      In this case, it certainly could mean that greater has to do with numbesr as we have taken the message of the gospel to the larger world. I wonder too though, if it might have soemthing to do with living out life with the indwelling of the Spirit–God making his home in us. Jesus said that unless he left teh Spirit couldn’t come. So I think there may be more to it than just numbers. But thanks again for sharing your own perpsective.

  5. A couple more things : )
    you said in your response, “this implies that a certain level of faith is necessary to bring the right understanding before God can use us.”

    I actually said the converse. Understanding comes before faith. You understand that God can work through you and therefore believe that He can and because of that He can and does.

    Lastly, if we need to be reminded that it’s Him and not us then we are living in a carnal state and not living by the Spirit which is how we ALL should be living yet most aren’t. We are one with Him in spirit and wouldn’t need a reminder. Living by His spirit in us focuses us on Him as opposed to living a carnal life which focuses us on ourselves.

  6. That same Spirit that dwells in us dwelt in Jesus. Also, I completely forgot but if you research that word “greater” in the original Greek text it refers to volume, specifically quantity.

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