Today’s passages: Jeremiah, chapters 10-12; John, chapter 14
Scripture: John 14:12-17 (NRSV) – Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
Observations: That title – “Greater Works than Jesus” – sounds so presumptuous! As I was typing it, I thought, “What are you talking about?” Many times I’ve read this passage as a promise: Jesus will do whatever we ask if we ask in his name; he promised to send the Holy Spirit to be our advocate, and to lead us as the Spirit of truth; he will be in us. But today, I’m challenged and convicted by this passage, because Jesus says, “the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” If that’s true – and, of course, it is – then what does that say about my belief? If I believe, I will do greater works than Jesus did – not because of me, but because he has gone to the Father. I know he has gone to the Father, so it must be my belief that is the problem! And I think that is demonstrated by my reaction to the title. As soon as I hear it, read it, or write it, I immediately start to discount it – and convince myself that I’m being humble by doing so. But what if I’m not? What if my reaction is really the result of a lack of belief on my part? What if Satan’s just trying to deceive me by making me think that my lack of belief is really a demonstration of humility?
Jesus has promised to do whatever we ask him when we ask in his name. Now, I know that “in his name” is an important qualifier; I can’t just ask for whatever I want. But when I ask in his name – when I know what he would want to do, and my desire is to glorify him, not myself – he will do whatever I ask.
This promise has not changed. The power of God has not changed. The position of Jesus has not changed. The presence of the Holy Spirit has not changed. I need to believe more, and more effectively! And I think that Jesus is telling me that my belief is demonstrated in how much I ask him to do. The belief that Jesus is talking about is not belief that “I can do it”; it is an understanding that I cannot do it, but Jesus can. If I know that I can’t do it, and I believe that he can, why am I not asking him more?
Applications: I think the application is obvious: Jesus wants to do more in this world, because that brings glory to his Father. He’s calling me to believe more, and to ask more, so he can glorify the Father by doing the sorts of things that he came here to do. It’s a little scary – I guess because I know myself and how easy it is for me to think about myself rather than about Jesus. But if I’m really following him – if I really believe in him – I have to trust that he will do what is according to his will, and he’ll help me to recognize what’s not. I just need to ask more.
Prayer: Father, I confess that it is hard for me to do that. I don’t trust myself to know your will enough to be able to ask boldly; I don’t trust myself to remember that everything is for your glory. But I want to honor you, to obey you, to glorify you – so help me to ask, to ask boldly, and to keep asking; help me to know your will; help me to recognize when you’re telling me that what I’m asking is not your will; and help me to give you the glory for everything that you do. May your Kingdom come and your will be done today, by me. Amen.