Summary: Jesus came so that we might know God fully and completely. Jesus' greatest work was that he revealed God to the people around him, and we are called to continue Christ's work in the world today.
The other day, I heard that I can do even greater things than Christ. Now, I'm not trying to brag here, I'm just telling you what I heard. And if you were listening this morning, you heard the same thing. But can you fathom that? Would you believe it if you were told that YOU could do even greater things than Christ? It doesn't really sound possible that any human could achieve greater things than Christ, and when we consider our salvation in Christ, there is not even really a comparison. Yet, in this passage from John, Christ says exactly that. He says, "Very truly I tell you, whoever 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." Whoever believe in Christ will do the works that he did, and even greater things!
It sort of feels sinful to even think that is possible, doesn't it? How could we ever compare to Christ? Think of all he did and accomplished. He changed water into wine. He walked on water. He healed the blind and the hemorrhaging. He interacted with all sorts of people, without any prejudice. Jesus walked all over the place, teaching everywhere about a God who was coming to his people in a new way. He even argued boldly with the Pharisees and ate dinner with tax collectors. Jesus raised people from the dead. And after he died on a Roman cross, he defeated death himself, in his Resurrection on the third day. He was God's Son and the Son of Man, who came to reveal God and proclaim God's new kingdom in the world. How could Jesus ever think that his mere human disciples would do greater things than he?
The fact of the matter is that we won't ever be able to do many of those things we associate with Jesus, at least not on our own. We won't change water into wine or walk on water. Except with a good diagnosis and some modern medicine, we will not heal in the way Jesus did. We might revive people, but we will likely never call a dead person out of his tomb as Jesus did. But these aren't really the kinds of things that Jesus had in mind when he was speaking to his disciples anyway. As God's Son, Jesus knew that he came to this earth to do the will of the Father. Jesus came to proclaim the love of God and the establishment of God's new kingdom, which would reign on earth as in heaven; a kingdom of justice and mercy for all people. Jesus came so that we might know God fully and completely. Jesus' greatest work was that he revealed God to the people around him.
So, if Jesus is not around, how will God be revealed to the people of the world? Well, Jesus knows that he will not be on earth forever, but he also knows that his great work must continue. And so as he prepares for his ascension to the right hand of the throne of God, he also has to prepare his disciples. The passage we heard from John this morning is the beginning of that preparation. Jesus knows that he will soon be departing this world, and so he takes a moment in the Upper Room to emphasize the link between the believers' continuing work, and the work that Jesus has begun. And Jesus makes clear that the success of the disciples' works is directly dependent on Jesus' departure to the Father. "Whoever 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."
The final events of Jesus' days on earth -- his death, resurrection, and ascension -- show forth the fullness of his love for God and the fullness of God's love for the world. Now, says Jesus, the works of his disciples, which will be done after he departs from this world, are even greater because they will reveal the completed story of God's Word made flesh and the radical love of God for the world. So the works of Jesus' disciples are not greater than Jesus' works because of anything special about the disciples themselves, but because they belong to the new age begun by Jesus himself. And as a part of this new kingdom, believers continue the glorification of God through Jesus that was the very purpose of Jesus' own works. That is a great thing, is it not?!? Think of how Jesus changed lives by introducing people to the loving God. And now, as Jesus disciples, we are to continue that work; to reveal God to others! We can do even greater things than Christ himself, because as Christ's own body at work in this world, we can continue to share the love of God with more and more people everyday. Christ's transformational work can continue through us, Christ's disciples, the church!