Jesus’ words: “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12), can be puzzling.
Miracles. No one today is performing miracles on the same scale as Jesus was, two thousand years ago. Today’s instant mass media would be on to it and we wouldn’t be able to get near because of the TV cameras. This suggests that Jesus was either not telling the truth or that he had something much more in mind than the healing of physical ailments.
God’s passion. We need to read text in context. In John 15 and 16 we read about the coming Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s coming was dependent on Jesus’ going. The Spirit’s work would be to breathe new life into the lives of men and women everywhere, opening their eyes to the truth about Jesus. He would also enable Jesus’ followers to recall and to understand Jesus’ words, and to have the boldness to introduce Jesus to people everywhere. On the day of Pentecost following Jesus’ death and resurrection, more people were converted on one day through the disciples’ preaching, than during the three years of his public ministry.
Furthermore, John 20:31 sums up the purpose of John’s Gospel: These are written so that you may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
If we saw things from Jesus’ perspective we would understand that conversion is a greater miracle than healing the sick. On one occasion, he said something like it himself – ‘Which is more difficult,’ he asked ‘to say your sins are forgiven or rise, take up your bed and walk?’
One minister tells the story of an alcoholic whose life was a total mess. A friend introduced him to Jesus Christ and his life was changed. He worked at his drinking problem and began to put his life together. But work colleagues mocked his new faith. ‘You can’t believe in miracles,’ one man said. ‘What about the story of turning water into wine? You’ve never seen that happen, have you?’ ‘No, was the reply, ‘I haven’t seen water turned into wine, but I have seen wine turned into furniture for my home.’
There’s evidence for this kind of change all around us – lives being touched and transformed as people come to know Jesus. We have only to ask any true believer and they will tell us their story of the good that God has done in their life. So Jesus goes on fulfilling his words – even the promise we read in John 14:14: “…If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
This is not a blank check. It’s not a promise that God will supply all our wants – success in every aspect of life. Again, reading text in context, we see that Jesus’ words: ‘In my name’ are key. Prayers he promises to answer are those that he would have prayed himself were he praying in our place. They are prayers that are consistent with his person and purpose.
Prayer and the lost. Jesus’ promise is a great incentive for us to pray without restraint, knowing that we are not working magic spells that might go wrong. No. We are petitioning a loving, all-wise Lord who never makes mistakes and whose greatest passion is to rescue the lost.
Recent research indicates that almost one in five would respond positively to an invitation to go to church. Why not pray for five people you know – that you will have the opportunity to invite them to church so that they might come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior?