(I've been working on this for a while, it mirrors what I've been teaching at church for the last several months, but it was getting a little long so I'm going to break it up into four parts for easier consumption. This is part one.)
Doing The Works of Jesus
We have a tendency to read the Bible as though it’s always addressing us and our needs, but it’s often addressing us as the disciples of Jesus, explaining how we are to meet the needs of others, how we are to collaborate with God in causing the Kingdom of God to show up on the earth, how we are to do the works of Jesus, the works of the body of Christ. That’s the case with this passage:
John 14:12 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. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
This is not a prayer scripture. It’s not about asking for yourself, it’s not about petitioning God for something you need or want. It’s about ministry. It’s about doing the works of Jesus. It’s about our role in causing the Kingdom of God to show up on the earth. You can tell that just from the context:
John 14:12 …He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; …
He’s not talking about asking God for things he’s talking about his disciples doing the same works he had been doing and even greater works.
What works did Jesus do? He healed the sick. He caused the blind to see, the lame to walk. He multiplied the loaves and the fishes. He stilled the storm. He raised the dead. That’s what he wants his disciples to do. In fact, that’s what it means to be a disciple, to imitate your master, Luke 6:40.
A disciple is an apprentice. An apprentice learns to imitate the master. The electrician’s apprentice imitates the master electrician. The carpenter’s apprentice imitates his master, the plumber’s his. They all do this in hopes of becoming like their master, of someday doing the works of their master. The disciples of Jesus are supposed to learn to imitate their master. The apprentice Christian is supposed to learn to imitate the master Christian. Most Christians see Jesus as the plumber who’s come to repair their plumbing, instead of seeing him as the master plumber who is teaching them to repair plumbing.
Jesus had already, before the incident recorded in John 14 which takes place the night before he is crucified, sent his disciples out with instructions to do the same kinds of things he had been doing.
Luke 9:1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come… 8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”
It says Jesus “gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases,” but how did he give them this power and authority? I suspect he did it by telling the disciples something quite similar to what he says in John 14, “…whatever you ask in my name that will I do…,” especially so because when the 70 disciples returned they said to Jesus:
Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
We do the works of Jesus by demanding, by giving orders, by issuing decrees, in Jesus name, as ones authorized by him to implement his sovereignty, his rule, his dominion, his reign, the kingdom of God. That's what I'm going to start talking about in part 2.
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