“In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask him for anything, using my name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you. Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it!” – John 14:12-14, TLB.
I imagine that you have been trying without success for three years to learn how to count from 1 to 100 and after another effort in which you failed again, your teacher tries to reassure you by telling you that you will soon become the greatest professor of quantum physics. That would sound incredulous, right? And you might wonder if your teacher is merely trying to encourage you. This is close to the situation that Thomas and Philip, two of Jesus’ disciples found themselves in, as Jesus prepared them for His crucifixion and ascension to heaven. After Jesus had told them that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and that they know the way, Thomas responded “No, we don’t, we haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Philip then says to Jesus, show us the Father and we will comfort ourselves with that, as though to say, all of this talk about mansions and coming over to live there sounds a bit unrealistic – “Just show us the Father.” To this, Jesus responds, “Don’t you even yet know who I am, Philip, even after all this time I have been with you?” (John 14:9). Apparently, these two disciples hadn’t grasped even the basics of what Jesus had been trying to share with them for three years, and His surprise shows in the phrase; “even after all this time?” If Jesus was to ask that question in our time, He might have added “Haba!” What is of greater interest to us however is not that these two had not grasped the seemingly rudimentary elements of Jesus’ teachings, but that He now turns and makes the most unexpected (given the circumstances) promise. He said, “In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in Me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask him for anything, using my name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you. Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:12-14).
It isn’t surprising that Christians may react as surprised to this promise today as Thomas and Philip must have been. The question in your heart may be, “how do I who is still struggling with the basics – having the assurance of faith, keeping a life of consistent devotion and prayer, walking free of the dominion of sin – how do I even start to imagine a scenario where I am doing miracles? And not just miracles, but miracles that are greater than the ones Jesus my Lord did?” This is an entirely understandable response to such a promise; nevertheless, the promise stands that whoever believes in Him, will do the works that He did and even greater ones. What can help our hearts is to realize where the Lord placed the emphasis for how this working of great miracles is going to come about. He didn’t say it is because Thomas, and Philip, as well as the billions coming after who will believe in Him, will be such powerful people, but simply… “because I am going to be with the Father.”
It is the presence of Jesus with the Father, and His continued intercession on our behalf (for He lives evermore to make intercession for us) that ensures that when we ask for something in His name that will glorify the Father, He puts in a word with the Father for the thing to be done. The working of the greater miracles, in reality, depends on Jesus’ intercession with the Father, and only requires our belief in Him and the efficacy of His intercession… “He that believes in me…” Is it not so with Ambassadors? Are the powers they deploy to work in faraway lands not entirely dependent on the backing of the leader of their home country? Or do ambassadors rely on their own authority to command the obedience of foreign powers? For we are indeed ambassadors of Christ as Paul the apostle writes, and the power available to us to work miracles is the full power of the King of our kingdom. Now, where is the working out of this? Were they mere words of encouragement, or do we actually see the Word again made flesh? The account of the early church is replete with this Word become flesh.
Many in the early church who drank from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit saw God work many miracles by their hands that were unique, and hitherto unheard of. A woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and got healed, but just the shadow of Peter that passed over men wrought healing (Acts 5:15-56). Jesus walked on water, but the Spirit by devices unknown to men teleported Philip from the highway to Gaza to Azotus – a journey that ordinarily would take three days (Acts 8:39). What is more, such great testimonies of the workings of the Lord are not limited to the early church. God is working even now! We hear testimonies of shrivelled limbs instantly growing out, women without fallopian tubes giving birth, and the dead coming back to life. God is working even now!
The question for me, and you, my dear reader is this: “is God willing to do greater works through me?” The answer for everyone who believes is a resounding, Yes! God is willing, and He is able. While belief in Him is the primary condition, we also glean from scripture that in deploying the vessels of His house, God chooses to use them depending on whether the vessels are purged of the things that hinder the work of God (2 Timothy 2:21). Never forget that the power is in God, not the vessel, for it is testified; But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own (2 Corinthians 4:7). Knowing then that God is willing and able to turn a struggling pupil of basic arithmetic into a professor of Quantum Physics, we should not cast away our confidence. Finding ourselves at that passage of history where the Bible warns that there will be a great number of false teachers and prophets deceiving great numbers of people with falsified miracles and wonders, we ought to commit ourselves to being used by God to glorify Himself by working greater works through us. As the church refocuses on the assignment of bringing in the harvest before the return of the Lord, there remains no doubt that the Lord will commit himself to work great miracles by our hands; such miracles as shall make the ears of those who hear it tingle.