Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do…
I. THE WORKS IN WHICH CHRIST AND THE BELIEVER HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON.
1. In His greatest work of course Christ stands alone. He came to work out and bring in an everlasting righteousness; to be the embodiment of a perfect obedience. Further, He came to die as an atonement for sin, and to rise and ascend and plead its merits in heaven. In neither of these can the believer have any part. "I have trodden the wine press alone." "Mine own arm hath wrought salvation." And yet in the ministrations of truth, in the exemplifications of goodness, and in the triumphs of mercy in which that sacrifice shall demonstrate its power, and that righteousness find its embodiment, all believing souls are invited to take their share.
2. The apostles were endowed with the power of working miracles. In this sense the doing of the works of Christ was confined to them. But Christ's miracles and theirs while real, and not to be spiritualized away, were physical types of spiritual. As bodily misery pointed out the misery of the soul, so healing symbolized salvation.
II. THE WORKS IN WHICH RELIEVERS, IN SOME SORT, SHALL EXCEL. To apprehend this, look at —
1. The results of our Lord's personal ministry. That cannot be regarded as unsuccessful. No doubt much of His teaching ripened after the rain of Pentecost, and those impressed before became converted afterwards. But during those three years how many benighted minds must have received light and foul hearts cleansing! Yet — as far as visible results now — how few even amongst the disciples, and of what a quality!
2. The results of the ministry of the Church. These great works are the burden of the Acts of the Apostles. How soon in the place where they murdered Christ were thousands won to His cause? Then the work spread to Samaria. Then the representative of far off Ethiopia was converted: then Cornelius the representative of Rome, and so on under the Apostles and their successors the tidal waves flowed on, until in the course of three centuries Christianity had overflown the world. Better still the nature of the results produced. The world was then at its very worst. At Thessalonica you have only a representation of what was universal. Men swallowed up in idolatry, but "the Word came with the demonstration of the Spirit," etc. In Corinth philosophy was rampant on the one hand and vice on the other, but then people were "washed, sanctified," etc. And thus from that time to this the gracious words have been fulfilled.
III. THE GROUND OF THIS. "Because I go," etc.
1. Christ went from them, but for them. It was not His departure simply, but what followed upon it — the gift of the Comforter, the burden of this discourse. Christ's departure was expedient —
(1) In regard to their character, that they who had been so worldly, ignorant, and timid, might become spiritual, enlightened, and heroic.
(2) In relation to their work.
2. Christ went from them yet remained with them. This enigmatical form of speech occurs often. "I go away." "Lo, I am with you alway." Our Lord would not leave them to the miseries of defeat or to the calamity of self-sufficiency. He therefore resolved to abide with them, and by His Spirit to be in them, their energy, courage, wisdom, sanctifying power.
3. All this is guaranteed to us.
IV. THE RESPONSIBILITY THIS INVOLVES. "If ye shall ask anything in My name," etc. You will prove your faith that you are Mine, and that I am with you, only as you, by grace work out these results.
Parallel VersesKJV: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.