Summary: Jesus promised that His people would do greater things than He had done, after He was risen from the dead. We are called to perform the work of Christ in the power of the Risen Saviour.

“Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” [JOHN 20:30-31].

“There are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” [JOHN 21:25]. [1]

Sixty years had passed since Jesus had last walked the dusty trails of Galilee. John, the Beloved Disciple, now an old man, had witnessed the incredible advance of the Kingdom of Heaven. Like a lava flow relentlessly pushing aside every barrier and engulfing every natural impediment to its relentless advance, the Kingdom of God had penetrated the darkened world, flooding the continents with the flaming brilliance of the Gospel. The world was bathed in light which the darkness could not extinguish.

Prompted by the Spirit of God to draft a firsthand account, the aged saint put down on paper the events of Christ’s ministry in the days of His flesh. Nearing the end of the Gospel account that would bear his name, the old man wrote the words of our text. Listen again to the words: “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” [JOHN 20:30-31].

John was saying that the reason he wrote was so that any who read would believe. To encourage belief, he noted all that Jesus had done, and testified He had done so much more. Shortly, the man of God would write again, “There are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” [JOHN 21:25]. Jesus was constantly at work, doing those things the Father had appointed Him to do. On one occasion, Jesus responded to a group of angry Jewish leaders, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” [JOHN 5:17].

If Jesus died and did not rise from the dead, then He cannot be said to be working to this day. However, if Jesus did conquer death, rising from the dead, we would expect that as He worked in that day so long ago, He continues to work even to this day late in the Church Age. John’s words stimulate us to reflect on whether we see Him working in this day, or whether we have believed a myth for which there is no evidence. Perhaps the reason we do not see Jesus working in this day is that we have closed our eyes to what is happening about us. Perhaps we are not looking for the right things, thus ignoring what is obvious. If the congregation of the faithful is the Body of Christ, then we should see Him working through His Body.

WHAT DID JESUS DO? John arranges the Gospel around seven signs that Jesus performed. His purpose was to reveal Jesus as very God in human form. It will be worthwhile for us to review those seven signs, since they are each unique, revealing various facets of Jesus’ divinity. His divinity is revealed through mastery over various aspects of life itself. [2]

The first sign provided John’s Gospel reveals JESUS AS MASTER OVER QUALITY. This first miracle is recorded early in this particular Gospel account. “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

“Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.’ So, they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” [JOHN 2:1-11].

You recall the account, especially when it is read in your hearing. We are all familiar with what occurred at the wedding of an unnamed couple in the town of Cana in Galilee. Mary, Jesus’ mother, noted that the wine was about to be depleted. She mentioned this fact to the Master, expecting that He would do something about what would have been a serious faux pas. Mary demonstrates consideration for the couple, apparently wanting to avoid embarrassment as they begin their life together.

Though He questioned why she would involve Him, the Master did as she tacitly asked. She, as you know, instructed the servants to do whatever Jesus said; and they obeyed. They filled the large ewers with water, but when they dipped into the vessels and tasted the product, the wine was pronounced exceptional. According to John, the practical impact of what occurred was that Jesus “manifested His glory” and “His disciples believed in Him.”

I must wonder what the servants thought—they were aware of what happened. I would hope that some, if not all, placed faith in this Galilean. Whatever else may be said of this sign, Jesus demonstrated His mastery over quality.

Perhaps there is someone listening who feels she has failed in the matters of life. Perhaps she feels she has not accomplished all that she thought she would do. May I encourage you to look up. Jesus is the Master over quality; and the things you do will redound to His glory and for your good. Someone has said, quite accurately, that Jesus is not a junk dealer. As He works in your life, He will refine you and bring you forth as pure gold [see 1 PETER 1:7].

John next demonstrates that JESUS IS MASTER OVER DISTANCE. The account will be found in JOHN 4:46-54. “[Jesus] came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So, Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So, he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’ The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.”

Can anything be more frightening, more distressing, for a parent than a child who is ill. Each parent listening can relate to this father’s concern for his child. He heard that Jesus was nearby and rushed from the side of his child to find the Master. When he found Jesus, he pleaded with Him to come quickly so He could heal the child. Jesus appeared to gently rebuke the man, but the man persisted in his request, at which point Jesus said, “Go; your son will live.” The text merely says, “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way” [JOHN 4:50].

The man returned home to discover that his son was recovering from the illness. Inquiring further, he learned that he began to recover at the very hour Jesus spoke to him. John is careful to note that as result of Jesus’ work, “[the man] himself believed, and all his household” [JOHN 4:53]. True signs result in faith for those who know the futility of man’s efforts, though witnessing the power of God.

Here is great encouragement for believers who wonder if their prayers have any impact. Perhaps a father listening wonders what impact his prayers have on a wayward son; he questions what God will do when he is unable to actually speak with the lad. May I remind you that Jesus is Master over distance. Though you are far from your child, ask the Master for mercy on the boy or on the girl who has turned away and is suffering because of sin. Our Saviour is well able to work even when we are not present. He rules the heart, even when we cannot be present. May I remind the one who follows the Master that he can rest secure in a Saviour who cares even more deeply for your family than you care when work compels you to be away.

We next witness JESUS AS MASTER OVER TIME. “There is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked” [JOHN 5:2-9a].

The man who was healed had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. We don’t know how old he was, but we do know that his malady was prolonged and severe. We don’t know precisely why Jesus chose to approach this man, but He did. What we do know is that when the man explained that his helpless condition prevented him from being the first to rush into the pool when it was supposed that an angel stirred the water, the Master simply commanded this man, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” [JOHN 5:8]. The text notes, “At once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked” [JOHN 5:9]. The transformation was immediate. Apparently, this man recognised that he was healed, for there is no indication that he struggled to stand nor that he was somehow unsteady on his feet. At Jesus’ command, the man stood, reached down to pick up his bed and walked away.

John makes note that this sign was performed on a Sabbath. Consequently, a man walking with his bed rolled up would be noticed by the religious Jews. Some of these individuals confronted the man, informing him that he was working on the Sabbath. This man protested, explaining that he was healed by a man he didn’t know. When he was healed, he was told to take his bed and walk. Later, Jesus saw this same man in the Temple. The Master recognised something in the man that wouldn’t necessarily be evident to us, and He warned the man, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” [JOHN 5:14]. The man rushed away to tell his interlocutors that it was Jesus who healed him.

Let me encourage anyone who wonders whether it is worthwhile to seek Christ’s intervention for problems that occurred long ago or fears concerning some future event. Perhaps you are plagued by memories of some matter from long in the past. Jesus is Master over the past; He can erase the guilt of matters that have long plagued you. Perhaps you have given up because of some persistent illness, some malady that seems never to release its grip over your life. I remind you that our Saviour created time and that He rules over time and eternity.

Years ago, I was injured in a serious truck crash. A truck in which I was a passenger rolled down a mountainside after the driver crashed into some trees. Resulting from that accident, I suffer to this day with severe headaches that incapacitate me. For over seven years, I experienced constant headache pain. I awakened with migraine-like pain and went to bed with the same pain which would increase in intensity throughout the day. I cannot tell you how often I prayed for relief, never fully receiving the answer I sought. What I did discover was reliance on Christ for strength and for ability to fulfil the service to which He appointed me of planting churches or reviving moribund congregations. Time, and acceptance of limitations is no barrier to the Son of God; He works without hindrance even in the most refractive conditions.

The fourth sign reveals JESUS AS MASTER OVER QUANTITY AND SIZE. The account is given in JOHN 6:1-14. “Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So, the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’ So, they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world’” [JOHN 6:1-14]!

This was a dramatic sign, and it wasn’t the only time Jesus fed a multitude. Some people have suggested that the real miracle was that a little boy would give up his lunch! However, I have observed that children are generous when they have been taught to share through example. Children of parents who are giving and generous tend to be generous themselves. Children that are raised in an environment of exalting self-interest tend to be stinting, penurious, grasping. God is able to change the heart, but short of His intervention, the training we receive in childhood fixes our future in this matter of generosity.

Those present, perhaps as many as fifteen thousand people, witnessed Jesus’ power over quantity and size. The small lunch the lad surrendered to Jesus was employed to feed that multitude, and those present were fully aware of what had taken place. As is so often the case in our broken world, however, the crowd was motivated more by what appears to be “mobocracy” than by reason. They saw the sign and determined that Jesus was the Prophet promised by Moses, so they endeavoured to force Him to be their king [see JOHN 6:25-51]! This was less an issue of faith in Jesus as the Son of God than it was a matter of fulfilling selfish desire.

I don’t want anyone to imagine that Jesus is a conjurer or a means to wealth in this world; He is the Son of God. Most of our financial problems arise from our own greed. However, I do note that throughout the Word, God promises to provide our needs! We are taught to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” [MATTHEW 6:11].

Many Christians today need to hear again the words that Jesus spoke when He cautioned, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” [MATTHEW 6:19-21].

Our Master will give us what is necessary to serve Him; and He will provide our necessities in sufficient quantity to meet whatever need we may face. We cannot, however, expect that He is obligated to rescue us from our own greed! We cannot spend ourselves into debt trying to keep up the rat race and then cry for deliverance when we discover that we cannot pay the debts we have contracted. God has promised to provide for our needs—not for our wants. We appear to have a difficulty distinguishing between needs and desires. As James has written, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” [JAMES 4:2-3]. Ouch!

We have this promise: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” [MATTHEW 6:25-33].

The fifth sign John records demonstrated JESUS AS MASTER OVER NATURE. “When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going” [JOHN 6:16-21].

It was the same evening after Jesus had fed the multitude with the little boy’s lunch. He had sent the disciples ahead to get into a boat and journey across the sea to Capernaum. As the disciples moved toward the other side, an opposing wind arose causing the sea to become rough. As waves rose higher, they struggled against the waves, trying to stay on course. Suddenly, they were startled because they saw the Master walking on the water and nearing the boat. When Jesus assured them that it was truly Him, they took Him into the boat. In itself, that was a stunning event. However, upon receiving Jesus into the boat, what happened next was truly miraculous and inexplicable. Immediately, the boat was at land, arriving at the precise destination for which they had struggled.

To those facing storms, though they are spiritual storms and not necessarily physical storms, you can be certain that Jesus is able to rule over the threats that accompany those powerful storms. When you are intimidated by the thunder and the lightning, remember that Jesus our Master rules over the storm. On another occasion, we read, “There arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but [Jesus] was asleep. And [His disciples] went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him’” [MATTHEW 8:24-27]? The same Lord who ruled over the storm in that distant day rules over the storms in your life. You serve a God too wise to make a mistake and too good to needlessly injure His child.

John records a sixth sign that reveals JESUS AS MASTER OVER MISFORTUNE. “As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So, he went and washed and came back seeing” [JOHN 9:1-7].

Surely, congenital blindness qualifies as a misfortune in the mind of most people. Some might employ a stronger word, but we can all agree that such does appear to be a tragic situation. The disciples saw this man as a social prop that permitted them to debate obscure theological questions, exhibiting their grasp of arcane matters of doctrine. Jesus, however, destroyed their supposed insight by stating that the man was born—for God’s glory! Think about that. Whenever you begin to ask, “Why am I here?” or “What is the purpose of my life?” know that the answer is that you are here for God’s glory!

Baptists of another era will recall that in Spurgeon’s Catechism, the first question is, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer to that question is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.” [3] Whatever your situation, if you are a child of God, He has permitted you to occupy this time and this place so that He may receive glory through you. Your purpose is to glorify His Name. Your purpose is not to have a good time, nor to enjoy an easy life, nor even to avoid difficulties. Whoever you are and whatever your situation, you are appointed to glorify the Living God. Your life has eternal purpose!

Even the wicked exist for God’s glory. Speaking of Pharaoh, the LORD declared to Moses, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” [EXODUS 14:4]. This was but an iteration of God’s warning to the Egyptian king, when He said through Moses, “For this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” [EXODUS 9:16]. This truth is proclaimed by the Wise Man when he writes:

“The LORD has made everything for its purpose,

even the wicked for the day of trouble.”


In the Letter to Roman Christians, Paul has written, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles” [ROMANS 9:22-24]? Scope in on the 23rd VERSE that tells us that we who have been saved from sin were “prepared beforehand for [God’s] glory.” Who can comprehend such mercy? Imagine! Wicked people prepared for God’s glory!

As a follower of the Christ, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” [EPHESIANS 2:1-5]. Now, you are a trophy of God’s grace.

The seventh sign John recorded reveals JESUS AS MASTER OVER DEATH. “Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’ So, they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go’” [JOHN 11:38-44].

This should encourage each follower of the Christ. Jesus unequivocally said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” [JOHN 6:38-40].

Then, when the religious people groused because He had said this, Jesus testified, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” [JOHN 6:44b].

Jesus’ testimony anticipates the promise given to all believers when the Apostle wrote, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words” [1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18].

Each follower of the Risen Son of God may be assured—you are immortal until He calls you to His side. Though one day you may set aside this tent, you have this precious promise. “We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” [2 CORINTHIANS 5:1-5].

THE IMPACT ON THOSE WHO WITNESSED JESUS’ MIRACLES — “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true” [JOHN 21:24]. John’s life was transformed by being with Jesus, just as the life of each disciple was changed dramatically through association with the Son of God. Likewise, your life cannot help but be changed when you walk with the Saviour.

I have always been encouraged by the words Doctor Luke recorded concerning the encounter of Peter and John when they were haled before the Sanhedrin on the first occasion. “When [the council] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” [ACTS 4:13]. Association with the Son of God is transformative! When you have been in His presence, you will become bold; you will not be brash, but you will be bold.

We have often talked about the lives of these men after the Resurrection of the Master. Each suffered greatly, but they did not shrink from following the path which the Saviour laid out. God gave each a testimony of what the Saviour had done, and they were faithful to His appointment. Just so, because the Saviour is with you, because the Spirit of Christ lives within you, you will faithfully fulfil all that He appoints you to do. You will speak the truth despite slander, despite opposition, despite bitter vituperation from those who hate the Master. And when you stand firmly in the Faith, you will silence the foe and glorify the Lord Christ.

There is something beautiful in the testimony of one who has walked with the Saviour. Their testimony may not be dramatic, but it will be real. They will not always remember every detail of all that Jesus has accomplished through them and through their testimony, but they are fully aware that the Son of God has been with them and that He has worked through them. These older saints have known the Saviour and they have witnessed His power. The young are well advised to hear their testimony. It is a fulfilment of the Psalmist’s words:

“One generation shall commend your works to another,

and shall declare your mighty acts.”

[PSALM 145:4]

God can work in every situation. Jesus is Master over Quality, Master over Distance, Master over Time, Master over Quantity and Size. He is Master over Nature, Master over Misfortune and Master over death. We draw back from allowing Him to be Master over our life, but we need to remember that we call Him Lord, Master. When we received Him, we surrendered the whole of our life to Him. When God wants to do an impossible task, He begins with an impossible person and crushes that individual so that God can be glorified. Perhaps you question why you face such pressure as you now face. Is it possible that God is preparing you for His use? Is it possible that Jesus is actually working in your life and that is why you hurt?

WHAT IS JESUS DOING? We began the study by looking at what Jesus did. We conclude by asking what Jesus is doing? It would be easy enough to say that Jesus is at work in our world (He is at work), but it is how He works that is sometimes forgotten. Jesus is at work through those whom He has redeemed. My mind turns automatically to Jesus’ promise to His disciples. “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. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” [JOHN 14:12-14].

An old saying informs us that life consists of a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. It is an accurate description of the challenges each of us faces. What shall we do? When we at last realise our lack of power, our inability to do anything, our Master will reveal His power through us. As Christ our Lord works in us during each storm, our faith grows and He receives glory. That is what Jesus is doing through us. This is the reason I say that Jesus is working still.

We who are redeemed have become the hands of the Saviour touching the soiled soul and offering hope in the midst of a hopeless situation. We who are saved have become the voice of the Master speaking in power when the storms threaten and calming the raging storm. We who are set free from condemnation are now the eyes of the Lord seeing the broken condition of humanity and seeing also the possibilities of new life. We who call ourselves by His Name have become the feet of the Master carrying His message of hope and of life to the farthest corners of the globe. Jesus our Lord is now working through us. This is what is meant when Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” [JOHN 5:17]. God is working—He never ceased working; and Jesus is working continually through His holy people.

Jesus is at work through His disciples to this day. Jesus is at work through you, if you are a follower. What situation are you now facing that you think is impossible? Perhaps it is a financial challenge—you have a financial need that is impossible to meet. Perhaps it is a physical limitation that seems to press you down and leave you helpless before the world. Perhaps it is a family situation that just cannot be fixed. What I know to be true is that each of us who follow the Saviour now faces, or we will shortly face, situations that are impossible. Here is what I want you to know. Write these few thoughts down so that you will remember them.

THE BEST TRAINING GROUND FOR YOUR FAITH IS THE REALM OF HUMAN IMPOSSIBILITY. [4] If all your problems could be resolved by the application of a little more effort, by thinking a bit harder, by calling on friends to lift you up, your faith would stagnate. However, if you ever hope to see your faith grow, it will only do so in the soil of human impossibility.

When you are facing what you realise is an impossible situation, where can you turn except to the Lord? When you your world comes crashing down around you and friends have deserted you, and even your family rejects you because they have rejected the Saviour, you will be comforted to know, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” [PROVERBS 18:24a].

When you stand before those who demand an answer and you are at a loss for words, be encouraged by Christ’s promise, “Do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” [LUKE 12:11-12].

When hated because of your faith in the Son of God, be assured that, “Not a hair of your head will perish” [LUKE 21:18]. You are immortal until you have finished your service.

When you feel deserted by loved ones, comfort yourself that the Master has promised, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” [MATTHEW 10:32]. Remember! Your name is spoken in the sacred precincts of Heaven before the throne of the Father!

We who follow the Saviour have received this precious promise, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” [MATTHEW 28:20b]. Our Lord has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” [HEBREWS 13:5b]. Indeed, “We can confidently say,

‘The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear;

what can man do to me?’”

[HEBREWS 13:6]

I believe I feel a shout of joy coming on. I exult in the Name of my Lord who always stands with me. He will fulfil His will and accomplish all that is required to ensure that His will is done through His servant. That is the glory of our God. That is the power of our Master. Amen.

God is at work in your life, training you and preparing you to be a powerful trophy of His grace. There is a day, may it come soon, when the Master shall return as He promised; and at His return, all the redeemed of the ages will be gathered to Him. At that time, He will be glorified in His saints, and that includes you who have believed. We will marvel at His majesty, majesty we cannot imagine now. And He shall exult in the beauty of His redeemed saints and all that He has accomplished through us.

There is yet another lesson to be learned from our study this day. When you face an impossible situation, THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR YOUR IMPOSSIBILITY IS DIVINE INTERVENTION. To explore this thought, I want us to hear an account of Christ’s work in one man who was used powerfully in an impossible situation. Learning of this almost unknown man’s ministry may serve to encourage many among us to dream great dreams and to attempt great things in the Name of our great Saviour. Let me speak of a missionary we have almost forgotten in this day, a man named John Hyde.

John Hyde grew up in a godly home in Illinois, his father being a Presbyterian minister and his mother a very godly woman. John’s father would frequently pray for labourers to be sent into the harvest, and three of their six children were sent as an answer to that prayer. John’s best friend, his brother Edmund, went to seminary to become a missionary. During a short-tern mission he contracted an illness and died. The loss of his brother effected John deeply; ultimately, he took his brother’s place on the mission field. Once John had settled the issue with God, he started breathing and living missions so that over half of his class in seminary went to the mission field. It was during those years that the foundation for John’s prayer life was laid. John graduated in 1892 and only months later he set sail for India, to take his brother’s place.

After a few years of fruitlessness on the mission field and discouragement in his language studies due to partial deafness, John sent in his resignation. However, the people in the village where he laboured also sent a letter, saying, ‘If he never speaks the language of our lips, he speaks the language of our hearts.’ Consequently, John Hyde did stay in that village. John devoted considerable time to Bible study, but it was the lack of conversions that drove him into prayer, neither of which disciplines were received very well by his co-workers. He was “thought to be fanatical and extreme, yet was willing to be called crazy and face this religious opposition.”

A missionary facing a situation where he could not speak the language well? A missionary who was partially deaf? A missionary who had witnessed no conversions? Surely, that sounds like an impossible situation. What would you do? This is what John Hyde did. In 1908, John Hyde began to pray, “God, give me one soul each day.” He prayed when he first awakened and continued praying each day for God to give him one soul. It appeared to be an impossible request for an impossible situation. He would pray sometimes for a full day, skipping meals and pleading with God to do the impossible. At the end of that year, his records showed that he had been used by God to lead over four hundred people to Christ.

In 1909, Hyde changed his prayer, asking God to give him two souls each day. At the end of that year, records showed that almost eight hundred people had given their life to Christ the Lord through this man’s prayers. After this, he became known as “Praying John Hyde.” God was working in an impossible situation to glorify His Name.

The following year, 1910, he changed his prayer again, praying, “O God, give me four souls each day, and nothing less.” At the end of that year, the records of the mission revealed that more than sixteen hundred people had received Christ Jesus as Master over life as result of John Hyde’s prayers. [5]

John Hyde died in 1912. It is fair to say that John Hyde accomplished more for the cause of the Kingdom of God in those few short years than most Christians accomplish in a lifetime. We wouldn’t be wrong to say that he accomplished more in those few short years than most churches accomplish in their lifetime. This is what God is prepared to do through His people when they are facing an impossible situation that drives them to look to God to accomplish the impossibility.

Today, some of you are facing an impossible situation. It may be a physical malady for which there seems to be no cure. You wonder how God can use you, weakened as you are and hindered by your condition. I’m challenging you to let the Saviour take control so that He may receive glory through you. He will accomplish great things through you.

Some of you suffer financial needs that seem to box you in. You thought you were pursuing the will of the Lord, but in the process you allowed your own desires to take precedence over His will. Now, you are in a narrow place and you see no way out. It is time to permit the Master to take control. Do it today.

Some who hear me are in an impossible situation with those whom you love. They oppose you and seem intent on destroying your heart. You’ve wept enough tears to fill an ocean. How can God use you when you are so deeply wounded, and the wounds continue to bleed? Know that our Saviour is even now working and will continue to do so powerfully as you surrender your impossible situation to Him.

Among us are some who know God has appointed them to a great task, but they don’t know how they can ever fulfil the appointment they have received. Look to Him who appointed you, believing that He is well able to work in the midst of your impossible situation. As you look to Him, He will prevail. Amen.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2] I followed Chuck Swindoll in arranging and identifying these signs in this manner., accessed 17 September 2018

[3] C. H. Spurgeon, A Catechism, With Proofs (Logos Bible Software, Bellingham, WA 2009) 3. The question and answer appear as the initial question in, Westminster Assembly, The Shorter Catechism Agreed upon by the Reverend Assembly of the Divines at Westminster (Early American Imprints, 1639-1800; No. 39222 (Samuel Green, for Samuel Phillips in Boston, Cambridge Mass. 1682) and in, The Westminster Larger Catechism: With Scriptural Proofs (Logos Research Systems, Inc., Oak Harbor, WA 1996)

[4] Swindoll, ibid., initially suggested the applications given in this message.

[5] I heard this story as an illustration included in a sermon preached by Dudley Rutherford, broadcast on 09.08.18 (“Dynamic Duo,”, accessed 17 September 2018. See also, Captain G. Carré, Praying Hyde: Apostle of Prayer (Bridge-Logos, Alachua FL 1982, or Basil Miller, Praying Hyde: The story of John Hyde, Missionary to India (Ambassador International, Greenville, SC 2008)