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Jesus was a culture changer.
He loosed the hold of faulty man-made traditions. He elevated Gentiles, slaves, women, and children. He challenged the proud and arrogant. He showed compassion to the repentant. He ate with men of poor reputation and rebuked the self-righteous religious leaders.
Jesus upset status-quo.
He talked of a Kingdom where the least would be the greatest and the greatest would be the least. The Jews expected a conquering King to free them from Roman oppression. Instead, He offered Himself as a sacrificial lamb to free all mankind from sin’s oppression.
So why do we doubt what He says? Why do we stumble over hard passages as though Jesus didn’t really mean what He said.
Case in point:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”John 14:12-13 ESV
Why do we stumble over the part where it says, “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do”? We struggle to see ourselves helping people like Jesus did. Never mind the part where Jesus says, “Greater works than these will he do”!
Many people explain these verses away by claiming that Jesus was only speaking to the apostles. Others just ignore it. Honestly, when was the last time we saw a girl raised from the dead by the touch of a hand? Or watched a blind man regain his vision after mud and a prayer? Or witnessed a woman being healed from a chronic disease from the touching a garment?
Our experience suggests that these verses were intended for the Twelve Apostles, not us.
But is experience a reliable bench-mark for interpreting Scripture?
Let’s look at other Scripture to interpret this hard passage.
What are these works that the Father sent Jesus to do?
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has annointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”Luke 4:18-19
Jesus read these words from the prophet Isaiah in his home synagogue on a Sabbath day. He declared that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Him. These few sentences summarize Jesus mission on earth. Each item in the list is just as miraculous as the dead being raised or sight being restored.
Through Jesus’ earthly ministry and His death and resurrection, He proclaimed:
- good news to the poor
- liberty to the captives
- sight for the blind
- liberty for the oppressed
- God’s favor
Delivering a man held captive by pornography is no less miraculous than the earthquake that freed Paul and Silas from jail. Setting a sex-trafficking victim in a new life full of love is no less marvelous than freeing an oppressed nation.
Jesus performed miracles both big and small…so that we could see what He wants to do THROUGH US! It might not look dramatic and exciting, but as we obey Jesus one small step at a time, HE makes these things happen. We are merely His human instruments blessed to come along for the ride.
Obedience to God unlocks His favor and blessing. It gives us a special connection to the Father’s heart. He then shows us what He is doing and invites us along. Jesus never stopped doing what He did when He was physically here on earth. The only difference is that WE are now His physical presence on earth. He does these works through us.
And after seeing what the Father is doing on a regular basis inside the hearts of people…maybe a physical healing or two won’t seem so unusual after all.
Let’s step up and take Jesus at His word. Instead of rationalizing the power out of a hard verse, let’s walk in faith expecting God to do great things as we surrender to His will.
After all, Jesus WANTS us to ask for big things in His Name. Because when we do, the Father gets all the glory!
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”John 14:13 ESV