John 14:12 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.
The entire Upper Room Discourse (John 13:31-17:26) is so incredibly rich that each verse is worthy of deep meditation. Picking and choosing is problematical indeed! This verse is a real show-stopper. On the one hand, it’s one of the most glorious promises in the whole Bible. On the other hand, it’s so big, and so outside of our usual experience, that it seems to us like Jesus was fantasizing, if not outright lying. Along with the two verses that follow this one, it seems like a blank check to accomplish anything at all, and that’s not our experience. Much has been said through the centuries to sort of “explain this away,” but that is being less than honest, intellectually and spiritually. It’s rather like the people who argue that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were just for the 1st Century simply because they’ve never experienced them. When we “make excuses” for these verses we really are making excuses for ourselves, because we don’t live up to them. It is true that our definition of “greater works” probably differs from God’s, but a bigger issue is that of faith. I have a deep appreciation for science, but if I have more faith in science than I do in God, I have missed out on more than I can imagine. Simply going on the track record of those who heard Jesus say this in the first person, it’s obvious that this isn’t “alakazam magic.” Jesus Himself didn’t go around imposing His will on people and events. He healed all who came to Him but not everyone came, and He didn’t chase them down. He prayed for some things that we still haven’t seen in totality, most notably His prayers for unity among all believers in John 17. He did express the Father’s love in many ways, sometimes gently and sometimes even violently, such as when He cleansed the temple. We aren’t to look at what Jesus said here as a free license to do whatever crosses our minds, but we are to trust that there are no more limits on us than there were on Jesus, if we trust Him fully (have faith) and live in harmony with His heart, His character (in His name).
This is certainly challenging for me. I have seen some miracles, but not many. I serve in the nation with the lowest rate of return on investment in the Gospel in the whole world, following in the footsteps of my parents. Just now as I was reading this yet again I asked God for the salvation of the Japanese people, the nation of Japan. I do believe He desires that, and I cannot begin to explain why it hasn’t yet happened, but I’ve got to believe He can use me in bringing it about. Right now Cathy and I are involved in producing an album entitled Living Hope, to counter the spirit of suicide that is so strong in this nation. I believe that God intends to use it to bring about the salvation of many, and if that spirit’s stronghold is broken, a flood of revival could well wash over this nation. I cannot dictate that to happen, but I must not look at the past and at myself and say it never could. I’ve got to remember that God is big enough and strong enough to use even me, and that’s miraculous indeed.
Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. Thank You that things really are happening toward the production of that album. Thank You for the many people You are drawing in to participate. Things are happening even this week. I pray that Your perfect will would be done in every detail, drawing every participant, for starters, to You and giving You the glory that You alone deserve. Thank You. Hallelujah!