Summary: Jesus prepares his disciples for his death by telling them about their union with God and how they are never alone in the world.
We tried to get to verse fourteen in our last study, but I really felt like I was rushing it, so we’re going to back up a little and start again from verse twelve. Twelve, thirteen, and fourteen are pretty tough verses, and they can cause a lot of confusion:
12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Taken by themselves it sure sounds like Jesus promises all Christians that they can get whatever they want as long as they ask for it in his name. And you know that there are preachers out there who make their living off verses like these; they tell people they can be rich and worry free if they’ll just have enough faith to believe these verses, and if they’ll just demand their blessing from God “in Jesus name.”
But even when they’re considered in context they still aren’t easy to interpret. We know that Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples, and that he’s trying to get them ready for his crucifixion. They’re about to carry on their lives without him, and they need to know everything will be ok. They need to know he didn’t fail, and that the gospel is more than just another Jewish king.
And so, what we saw last time, is his promise to go and prepare a place at his father’s house. There are many rooms there, and, when the time is right, Jesus will come again to bring all God’s children home. The disciples can be sure he’s telling the truth because Jesus is one with the Father. If they have any doubts about that, they can just remember all the great works he’s done in their presence. Works prove union. Take note of that. Works prove union, and this is another source of comfort:
12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
These “little children” will also do great works, but it won’t be from their own power; it will be the power of God in them.
But how does anyone do greater works than Christ? And what about today’s disciples? I doubt any of us have ever done even a minor miracle, let alone something greater than what Christ did. How do we explain that?
Well, it’s certainly debatable, but remember that he’s only talking to his disciples, and they actually did go and do some amazing things. They raised the dead, healed the sick, and cast out demons, and this promise confirms their union despite his absence.
But what about modern disciples? Perhaps this verse is directly aimed at only the first eleven, but I think that conversion and salvation are bigger works than those temporary miracles. Bearing the spiritual fruit of the Holy Spirit and walking in a manner worthy of our calling is something that all Christians everywhere have in common. Victory over death and sin and Satan are greater miracles, and this, I think, could be what Jesus means.