Jesus meant exactly what He said.
“Doing greater works than Jesus?“, I hear you say, “Don’t be ridiculous! No one can do greater works than Jesus, we can’t even come close“. Oh, really? Are you calling Jesus a liar then? “What?!? No, of course not Matthew – I would never call Jesus a liar!“. Okay, but didn’t Jesus say in John 14:12, “I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do—yes, they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father” (Good News Translation). “Well, yes, but He meant……“. Yes? What did He mean? Surely Jesus meant exactly what He said. He even started off by pointing out that He was telling the truth. Doesn’t it seem strange, that Jesus would feel the need to say that He was telling the truth? After all, you wouldn’t be expecting Him to not tell the truth, would you? But Jesus knew that what He was about to say was so amazing, that He needed to make it absolutely clear that this was the truth. So if Jesus said that we can do greater works than Him, our first step in doing greater works, is to believe in faith that it is possible – even if we do not understand how.
Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses and was able to operate in its blessings.
“Um, okay, but Jesus was the Son of God. How can we do the sort of things that He did?“. Glad you brought that up! Because Jesus being the Son of God, is where a lot of the confusion arises as to how we could possibly mirror the works of Jesus. Of course, Jesus was and is the Son of God. Anyone who disputes that is not a Christian, it’s as simple as that. However, when Jesus came to the Earth as a baby and grew up to become a man, He was not operating as the Son of God – He was operating as the Son of Man. Philippians 2:5-6 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God“, now there’s an interesting topic to look at! But actually, for now its verse 7 that I want to focus on, “but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men“. Everything that Jesus did whilst on the Earth, He did as a man – as a Jew – operating under the old (the Abrahamic) covenant. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law of Moses and was able to operate in its blessings. In theory, any Jew could have done the same.
The pharisees had been very good at teaching people about the curse, they had been less good at teaching people about the blessing.
“Oh come on! Are you saying that any of the Jews could have died on the cross for us?“. No! To be clear, that is not what I am saying. In order to be a suitable sacrifice, Jesus needed to be ‘without spot or blemish’. This required firstly for Him to be free from the curse of sin passed down from Adam via earthly fathers – hence the virgin birth. Secondly, Jesus needed to live a sinless life. None of the Jews, or anyone else, were able to meet those requirements. But as for Jesus’ miracles, they could have been performed by any of the Jews who were living right before God. The problem was that the pharisees had been very good at teaching people about the curse and about the consequences of sin. They had been less good, at teaching people about The Blessing (sounds familiar, doesn’t it). Most of the Jews were not aware of the benefits of the covenant they had with God, through Abraham. Jesus made reference to this in Luke 13:16 when He said, “Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?“. Jesus was saying, “This woman is a daughter of Abraham. She has a covenant with God. Satan should never have been allowed to keep her bound, its time for him to let her go!“.
The miracles occurred, not because Elisha was the Son of God.
In order to show that Jesus was operating as a Jew, not as the Son of God, let me give you some Old Testament equivalents of Jesus’ miracles. 2 Kings 4:42-44 says, “A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe corn, along with some ears of new corn. ‘Give it to the people to eat,’ Elisha said. How can I set this before a hundred men?’ his servant asked. But Elisha answered, ‘Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’ Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord“. Doesn’t that sound very similar to the feeding of the five thousand? What about 1 Kings 17, where Elijah is praying for a boy who has died? Verses 22-23 say, “The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, ‘Look, your son is alive!’“. In these two examples, the miracles occurred, not because Elisha was the Son of God – he wasn’t of course and neither was Elijah, but because they had a covenant with God through Abraham, and because they were obedient to what God told them to do.
We no longer have to look on from the outside, at the blessings that God has promised to His people.
“Well, okay…..so the Jews could have done miracles like Jesus did and His disciples could have too because they were Jewish. But what about those of us who aren’t Jewish? Surely we can’t do the works of Jesus?“. Actually, we can! You see, up until the resurrection of Jesus, only the Jews had a covenant with God, everyone else was not part of this. However, following Jesus’ resurrection, a New Covenant came into effect. Hebrews 8:6 says, “But now He [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises“. Unlike the Old Covenant, which only applied to the descendants of Abraham through Jacob, this New Covenant includes everyone who receives Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. We no longer have to look on from the outside, at the blessings that God has promised to His people. This New Covenant, authorises and empowers all of us, to do the works of Jesus and greater works. Our part, is simply to listen to what God is saying and obey – it is God who will do the works through us. Jesus Himself made it clear that it was the Father, not Him, who was doing the works in John 14:10, “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works“.
We can do the works of Jesus – it just takes faith and obedience.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to click on the link below. Clicking on the link will not secure your salvation, but praying the prayer you find, from your heart, will.
For the salvation prayer, please click here.