Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daily Bread: John 14:12-13

"I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
John 14:12-13

I have to admit, I find these verses personally troubling. No doubt, they are true and good, yet I am personally challenged in reading them. Why? Because it would seem to me that as a follower of Jesus, I ought to be seeing myself (and other followers) doing the works Jesus did, and even greater works! All we should have to do after all is ask Jesus in his "name" - which I understand as being "in his will".

So how come I don't see this sort of thing happening? I wrestle with many possible answers. Here are some of the possibilities I tend to mull over.

1. I don't really know Jesus. Scary proposition! I do believe I know him though, and that's what makes these verses so troubling and hard to understand. I do seek Jesus, I do knock, ask, etc. If I don't know him, then there must some personal merit in addition to faith that is required to relate to God through Jesus. That would violate the very message of Jesus and the scriptures as a whole.

2. Perhaps what Jesus considers greater works are not works that we readily see or acknowledge in our personal lives, rather a collective work of his body on earth?

3. Perhaps these "greater works" are yet future (in my life at least)?

4. Perhaps I am not doing greater works because I am not asking "in His name" - that is, according to a relationship with the Father as Jesus had?

5. ????

At the moment, I am most inclined to understand these verses in light of option #4 above. One central theme I see in John is that Jesus was totally dependent on the Father for everything and did nothing by his own personal initiative. For example, John 14:10b says

"...The words I speak to you I do not speak to you on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works."

The works of Jesus then are rooted and sourced in His Father. That means that Jesus would only seek to do what He knew the Father was seeking to do. He knew what His Father was doing because of the kind of relationship He had with His Father - one of total dependence. I believe this truth is core to the Christian Life - that everything is sourced in God! We were created to be totally and continually dependent on God. After all, He is the source of Life! To be disconnected from that source results in death (ie. The Garden of Eden)!

Perhaps my problem is that I am not relating to the Father in the same way, with a will ONLY to do what He's doing? That being the case, if I were doing only what I saw the Father doing, maybe I'd be part of doing greater works?

Lord, please help me understand and experience the truths of these scriptures!


Anonymous said...

Hey Andrew,

I do believe that whatever Jesus may have been meaning within the context of this passage... (what's the "greater works than these"?)... I don't believe we will ever accomplish more than Christ. I am confident this is not what the Lord intended to say.

However, what is very clear within Scripture and presented to the believer over and over again... Christ is "in you" and we are in Christ. When that life is known in spirit and in truth... it will indeed manifest itself in the things (work) of Christ.

I understand that believers in America are drawn to the works of Christ because we know very little of that same power. We are mostly unacquainted with suffering and unaccustomed to walking by faith instead of sight.

So... we are drawn to his works. Yet, I find that the apostles where continually drawn to his Person... in the "knowledge" of Jesus. When the works of Christ are mentioned in the lives of believers... it is only to confirm that they know Jesus and his life is working through them; the Kingdom of God has come to town.

I am persuaded not to concern myself with the measure of power (or lack thereof) that is on display, but to look only to knowing the Lord for the sake of that eternal relationship.

Keep up the good thoughts.

Andrew said...

Thanks for the comments David - specifically for the admonishment to focus on the person, rather than the works. I admit, that's a continuing struggle for me. I don't know if it's just my nature, or growing up in and around performance-based religiousness rather than relationship. I find comfort in seeing the apostles struggle at times with the work rather than the person too - I guess those things are common to everyone.

I really appreciate the feedback on this one and for pointing me to the person.