Doing Greater Things than Jesus?
If you are following my blog at all, you know that I am taking FOREVER to write my Bible study of John. Thank you for hanging in here with me. It is WAY more ANNOYING for me than it is for you!
See, I started out writing for a friend because I wanted her to "love Jesus like I do". Which sounds all super-holy, but I didn’t really want to be changed by what I was reading, I just wanted to help my friend (cause deep down, I sorta think I got it going on!) But God has this super annoying and ultimately amazing habit of wanting me to be better than I am. So…when I really study the Bible, I get confronted with areas where I need to grow (ugh/yay!)
The last section of John 14 really kinda lays it all out there and calls us out on whether we are actually following Jesus and if you honestly think about it, it ought to be a little uncomfortable and a lot exciting so let’s dig in!
In the first section, Jesus is talking to his disciples about how he and God the Father are the same. Then out of nowhere he gives us this impossible challenge:
12-14Whoever 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. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Woah! Hold up a minute Jesus! That’s a pretty tall order I’m supposed to “do even GREATER things” than you did? Uhhhhm…I’m pretty sure I’m NOT doing that!
Through the years, I’ve asked several preachers and Christian leaders about this passage and their answers always sound like a politician who was just asked to explain his campaign spending. No one wants to say, “yeah, I can’t really think of a Christian that is living up to that.” Also, at least in America, we don’t really want to be that freaky weirdo that is over the top religious. So, we just feel awkward, convicted and not sure what to do about it and we think about other things.
This time, I finally decided to nail it down. I want to KNOW. If I’m not living up to my end of the bargain on this whole Christian thing, I want to know. I want to change (well, kinda…).
So, in all my geeky English teacherness, I looked up the words in the verse in my handy dandy, Complete Word Study of the New Testament. I found that the word for “greater” should be understood in the sense of “more” as in replicated a bunch.
In other words, Jesus isn’t telling us to go out and top the walking on water thing, he is saying “remember the essence of all that I did? I want you to do that kind of thing, only a whole lot more of it and I’m going to be all over helping you with it” (CFV)
As I think back over the stories I’ve read so far in John, that challenge incredibly excites me. I think of a story like Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. I think of how broken and hopeless she was and how uncaring the religious elite were. And Jesus blew them all away with grace and love. He wants me to be like that to many more people! That’s awesome!!!
I need help, though…
Thank goodness for the rest of the chapter. Jesus promised that whatever we ask for in his name he will do for us…Well he said, anything we ask in his name and it is linked to completing his mission of loving people like he did. So…I don’t get that Ferrari?
I joke, but that is my struggle. I really really like STUFF. I like clothes, jewelry, make-up, cars, craft supplies, furniture, and every little doo-dad I see. So, yes, I want to pray and be like Jesus, but I also want to ask him to give me a lot more stuff and it’s a real struggle.
I’m certain that the me-focused stuff monster would win all of my prayer battles if it weren’t for the truths found in the rest of the chapter.
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.
(Even as I write this, I realize how much I need to spend more time quieting myself and listening to the Spirit of truth that God has graciously given me. I know I’m not listening like I ought to be because I’m anxious about my stuff!)
In the next section, Jesus reminds us all that if we love him, we will follow his commands. You don’t really get to say, “Yeah. I love Jesus but I’m doing my own thing.” If you love him, you are going to do the things he taught. Which again, is a pretty tall order but he promises not to leave us alone.
He promises to love us and God the Father will love us and their Spirit will be with us reminding us of all the things Jesus taught.
So, when we get caught up in obsessing on stuff we will have a gentle reminder that’s not what life is all about and we will have power to live out that truth.
And then Jesus says something that is completely mind blowing if you really think about it.
In verse, 27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
So, if you put this in context with all that Jesus is saying here, he is warning the disciples that he is going to die. He is forewarning them that they are going to be scared for their very lives and he is going to give them PEACE.
Obviously, we all know that the disciples all went into hiding after Jesus was crucified. And not because they were cowards at all. The Roman government was brutal. Crucifixion was horrific. They weren’t just scared of dying, they were scared of being tortured to death along with their whole family. It was completely reasonable to be incredibly afraid.
What would not be reasonable in this situation would be PEACE.
But, after Jesus’ resurrection, they finally believed. They still had the same threats against them, but they also received the Spirit, they received peace and from this, the early church began.
And for those of us trying to live out Jesus’ teachings in 2017 we have that same promise of peace. And that peace will enable us to “do even greater” works of loving more and more people like Jesus did!!! Which is a super, awesome, amazing, unbelievably wonderful mission to get to be a part of.
I hope you are excited! I'm wrestling with how to live this out in my daily life. I'm more committed to being involved in people's lives. Let me know what you guys are doing. I'd love to chat about it.