Skip to content

Even Greater Things Than Jesus Did??

January 15, 2016

B 3Jesus says to his disciples in John, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He [or she] will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Of course our first reaction is to ask, “Greater than Jesus? How is that even possible?”

One possible meaning: Because I am going to the Father–because I am going to die and rise again–sin and death will be defeated and you will have even more power than you do now.

The Kingdom would be even more fully ushered in at the end of John. Is this what Jesus means?

This, at least, is what D.A. Carson suggests:

In short, the works that the disciples perform after the resurrection are greater than those done by Jesus before his death insofar as the former belong to an age of clarity and power introduced by Jesus’ sacrifice and exaltation. Both Jesus’ words and his deeds were somewhat veiled during the days of his flesh; even his closest followers, as the foregoing verses make clear, grasped only part of what he was saying. But Jesus is about to return to his Father, he is about to be glorified, and in the wake of his glorification his followers will know and make known all that Jesus is and does, and their every deed and word will belong to the new eschatological age that will then have dawned.

I think it could also be helpful to understand Jesus’ statement in light of the signs he has performed.

Jesus says the above in John 14, shortly after the conclusion of the “Book of Signs” portion of John–the first 12 chapters containing his “7 Signs.” John 13-21, then, constitute what scholars call the “Book of Glory.”

A sign, after all, is that which (while good in itself) points away from itself and to a greater, deeper, fuller reality. So if Jesus is referring to “greater things than these signs,” that is not so hard to grasp if we consider that signs always point to something greater anyway. One could read Jesus’ statement as a sort of tautology, where the “greater things” mean that somehow the deeper reality Jesus’ signs point to is more fully unearthed through the ministry of the disciples.

In other words, Jesus says to Philip, these signs are just a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven, and you and all the disciples after you are going to work and work and work together to keep bringing the Kingdom in.

When puzzling over John, I can think of no better place to turn than to Raymond E. Brown, to whom I give the last word. Note especially the final sentence of this paragraph.

 

Ray Brown on John 14.12

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2016 8:10 pm

    I find it fascinating how much preachers and theologians unnecessarily complicate things that may have a more obvious meaning. This is not meant as a criticism, since I’m just as guilty as anyone else! There is something that you and I can do that Jesus never could; give testimony to having been lost and ruined by sin, but now rescued by God’s incredible undeserved favour. We can witness that once we were sinners who revelled in our lostness, but are now saints who have been redeemed at the dearest price of all, the very blood of God shed on the cross. Testimony could well be that “greater thing,” and is indeed only possible because of the incarnation, life of full and final obedience, the death and resurrection of God’s Word, Jesus Christ our Saviour. SDG!

    • January 15, 2016 9:43 pm

      Thanks for the comment–that’s an interesting perspective, although I don’t think Carson and Brown (or I) are complicating it with other reads.

      • January 16, 2016 4:17 am

        Perhaps it’s just complicated to begin with. Jesus doesn’t always speak simply!

  2. January 15, 2016 11:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

Trackbacks

  1. Recommended Reading: January 16-22 | Pursuing Veritas

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: