Greater Things?

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 
–John 14:12

I don’t know about you, but this verse has always bothered me.

Perhaps you’re like me. When I read this statement by Jesus, I keep coming back to the same question. Is He really saying what it appears He is saying? Are we really supposed to do “greater things” than Jesus did while He was on earth? It just seems impossible, doesn’t it? I mean here is a person who healed all kinds of sickness and ailments, cast out demons, even raised people from the dead, yet He is making the most amazing statement.

“They will do even greater things than these…” Is He serious? Yes.

Imagine what was going through the disciples’ minds. “Us? Even greater things than we’ve seen You do? Are you serious, Jesus?” Yes, He is.

In our rush to understand the latter part of this teaching, we often forget the first part. “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing…”

Jesus makes an enormous assumption; namely, those who are His followers should be doing the things that He is doing. Apparently, in Jesus’ mind, it is impossible to call yourself a follower and not have your life look like the person you are following. If you are His follower, then your life will look like His. If you are His follower, you will listen to, absorb, and re-orient your life around His teachings and way of life.

But what about these “greater things”? How is that even possible?

What Jesus proclaims in John 14:12 is not that the disciples would do something, better, or more meaningful than Jesus did. He was inviting them to be involved in something “greater,” more expansive. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus was opening the door wide for the kingdom to invade earth. The kingdom was breaking into their midst, and Jesus was inviting people to get involved in taking this kingdom kind of life and spreading it like an aroma.

Jesus came proclaiming that a kingdom was here, a new kingdom, a different kind of kingdom. The kingdom He was proclaiming was foundationally different than the dominant kingdom of the day, the Roman Empire. Rather than a kingdom built with power and oppression, His was built upon love and grace, upon generosity, compassion, and peace.

This was the kingdom of God.

Being involved in the expansion of this kind of kingdom was to be involved in something “greater.” They were being invited to be a part of nothing less than a movement.

And so are we.

In your life, do you have a sense that you are a part of something “greater”? The invitation was not merely for then; it is for today. Live the way of Jesus. Live the way of this new kingdom, and you’ll be involved in something “greater” than you ever imagined.

In what ways can you join the expanding of the kingdom of God in your city? Your church? Your neighborhood? At work? At school?

John 14:5-14

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Mike DeVries

Mike DeVries is a husband, father and a veteran pastor and youth pastor. He is an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University in the School of Theology.

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