Summary: For Graduate Recognition Sunday, June 1989. Christ promises that if we ask, we will do greater things than He. Trusting Him means that in this room there are those who can heal, can bring life, can teach, can exceed all expectations.
The most memorable line spoken by singer Al Jolson in the 1927 movie classic The Jazz Singer was the ungrammatical but prophetic word, "You ain’t seen nothin’ yet". I don’t remember what that line contributed to the story, but it was really there as a kind of canment about this wonderful new invention, the talking motion picture. The Jazz Singer was the first movie to match pictures and sound, and its producers were in effect saying, "This is only a small beginning. We’re going to do a whole lot more than this. If you think this scratchy, sketchy indistinct sound is something, if you believe this grainy black-and-white film is something special, well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
It’s easy enough now in 1989 to look back at 1927 or 1947 or for that matter 1987 and see how much has been accomplished, how many wonderful inventions there have been, how even great things become greater. It’s easy to look back and see a host of improvements ... but it’s not so easy to see that you can play a part in making things even greater. It’s not so easy to imagine how you or I can really make a difference in our world.
People don’t always have a vision of greater things to come. Sometimes they just feel that there is nothing new to do. They just cannot cook up a vision of what might be ... and so there is no vision of greatness, no vision of new possibilities. A book was published once in which the author made the assertion, "Nearly everything that can be invented has already been made. There are few places where we can expect scientific or technical advancement". How about that …few things that can be invented?! When was that book written? In 1895! The author thought his world had reached its peak ... no greater things to be done.
Or sometimes we lose that vision of greater things to be done because we don’t really believe we have the ability ourselves to matter. We can’t see how our little lives can possibly make a difference, and so we just cut off the discussion before it starts, in our nobodiness, and settle for too little. I wonder, to be honest about it, how many blessings this world has been deprived of because people were put down so hard, were told so often that they were stupid, and they really began to believe it, and before long, they just quit trying to achieve. I just have to wonder how many of the greater things that could have come we still don’t have because somebody lacked faith in himself.
But you know here we are at the time of the year when we are recognizing our graduates ... junior high school, high school, college, and graduate school ... and everyone of these folks has had to sit through a commencement exercise by now ... and if these exercises are at all typical, what does the speaker say? Well, he inevitably begins by observing that the word is commencement -- that it means a beginning, not an end ... that now you have to go out into the real world ... and that we expect great things of you ... greater things than we have done. I imagine by now you have heard 500 speeches of this kind ... we expect you make this world a better place ... we expect you to correct our mistakes … we want you to cure our failures ... greater things are needed from you, this year’s class. Isn’t that right? Didn’t we all hear something like that?
Well, this morning I bring you a very, very special graduation speaker, Dr. Jesus. And Dr. Jesus not only issues a challenge to this year’s graduates .. he also offers a promise .. and not to graduates only, but to every one of us. Dr. Jesus’ challenge and promise is this, "He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father."
In other words, "You ain’t seen nothin’ yet". "He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father."
But, as I have said, so often we don’t have much sense that we matter. We don’t really believe that we can do greater things. And now when Jesus comes along and tells us that we can do even greater things than He, it really is mind-boggling, isn’t it? Greater things than Jesus?! Why, he healed the sick; how can I do that? And he raised the dead; I know I’ll never be able to do that. Jesus … why Jesus taught in such a sublime fashion that 2000 years later we still remember what He said ... and, well, I can’t even teach a bird to sing or a puppy to bark. Greater things than Jesus? How can this be true?! And to cap it off, in the end He rose up from the grave, and I don’t ever expect to do that. How can I do his works and greater to boot?!