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…
Our Lord Jesus when on earth was during the whole of his ministry a Worker. He spoke of his works, and of his resolve to work the works of the Father. In the text there is no disparagement of these displays of power - power to teach, to heal, to rule, to conquer. They were works worthy of him who wrought them, and they answered the purposes for which they were intended. They were not only advantageous and beneficent to men; they were a witness to Christ's claims, for he himself made the well-founded appeal, "Believe me for the works' sake." Yet in this passage our Lord affirms the superiority of the works of his disciples to his own.
I. AN UNEXPECTED AND WONDERFUL SUPERIORITY. The master may naturally be expected to excel the servant, the teacher to excel the scholar, the leader to excel the follower. The reverse, however, was designed in the Christian dispensation. This very marvelous arrangement is to our mind a proof of the Lord's confidence in himself, and in the certainty of his expectations regarding the future of his cause. This is one of those many and instructive instances in which God's ways are not as our ways.
II. A REASONABLE SUPERIORITY. Below the superficial difficulty just mentioned there is a deep-rooted reasonableness in this arrangement. As explained in the text the conditions of this superiority are twofold.
1. They who do the greater works are believers on Christ. Faith is ever the inner power of works, both material and moral. It is the union with the Lord himself that makes his people strong to do the greater works; so that, in fact, they are not their works, but his, who works in and by his own faithful servants. Faith as a grain of mustard seed enables a disciple to remove mountains.
2. They who do the greater works are possessed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Lord himself assigns the reason: "Because I go unto the Father." The ascension of Christ secured the bestowal of the Spirit, and the influences of the Spirit enabled the richly endowed and blessed to do great marvels. "Strengthened with all might" by the Holy Spirit, they were made fit for the great enterprise committed to them. Feeble in themselves, they were strong in their Lord.
III. A PROVED SUPERIORITY. When Jesus uttered this assurance, it was received by those who heard it in faith, because they credited the Divine Speaker. But we have the evidence of the facts that followed the proclamation of the gospel, and of the facts of Christian history. By "greater works" we do not understand works more striking and marvelous in themselves, but more glorious in their effects upon human society and upon the progress of God's spiritual kingdom. The contrast between the signs and wonders recorded in the four Gospels and those recorded in the Acts of the Apostles is mainly in the spiritual results by which they were accompanied and followed. As their Lord foretold, the apostles received power to heal the sick, to expel demons, to raise the dead. They spake with tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews best explains these greater works, when he writes of the great salvation, that it "was confirmed unto us by them that heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will" Thus it was that the moral and spiritual changes, wrought by the agency of the apostles, were astounding to a mind capable of measuring and appreciating wonders of this kind. The works of this nature wrought by them were great indeed. Souls were awakened, taught, counseled, renewed, and saved. The few who were spiritually blessed by the ministry of Jesus were but the firstfruits of a great harvest reaped in the ministry of his apostles. A vast variety of classes was reached. Gentiles as well as Jews received the gospel; great centers of civilization were attacked by the aggressive, apostolic host. Complete change of character was effected in unnumbered instances by this consecrated and inspired agency. Social improvements followed in the train of Christian evangelization - ameliorations which were the earnest of the most amazing transformations which the world has witnessed. Fully to realize these "greater works," it is necessary to take a survey of the history of Christendom. The glimmering dawn has been followed by the glorious day.
IV. AN INSTRUCTIVE SUPERIORITY. These greater works which we witness, and in the production of which we are called upon to bear our part, have practical lessons of value for us in this spiritual dispensation.
1. They remind us of the dignity, power, and glory of the Savior. Promised by him, they are evidences alike of his faithfulness and of his power. He by his Spirit reveals his presence in his Church.
2. They impress upon us our own responsibility. The provision having been made for the continuance of these spiritual operations, Christ's people are called upon to prepare themselves to act as agents in the establishment and extension of his Church on earth. The possession of spiritual gifts ought not to minister to our pride; it should remind us of our dependence and of our duty.
3. They encourage us to cherish a bright and glorious hope. What works have yet to be wrought before the purpose of God is achieved, before the sufferings of Christ are rewarded, before the work of the Church is completed! - T.
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.
WEB: Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father.