"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. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will l do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (John 14:12-14).
The Savior opened His public ministry in the Sermon on the Mount with the same subject He uses here in His parting address from the Gospel of John: prayer. But there is a difference. The Sermon on the Mount is directed to disciples who have just entered His school, scarcely knowing that God is their Father, whose prayers have reference chiefly to their personal needs. In His closing address, He speaks to disciples whose training time is coming to an end, who are ready as His messengers to take over His place and His work.
Christ's first lesson had been: Be childlike, pray believingly, and trust the Father to give you everything good. Here He points to something higher. The disciples are now His friends. He has told then everything He knows about the Father. They are His messengers into whose hands the care of His work and Kingdom on earth is to be entrusted. Now they must assume that role, performing even greater works than Christ in the power of His approaching exaltation. Prayer is to be the channel through which that power is received. With Christ's ascension to the Father, a new epoch for both their working and their praying commences.
This connection comes out clearly in our text from John, chapter fourteen. As His Body here of earth, as those who are one with Him in heaven, the disciples are now to do greater works than He had done. Their successes and their victories are to be greater than His. Christ mentions two reasons for this. One is that He was going to the Father to receive all power; the other is that they could now ask for and expect that power in His Name "Because I go to the Father, and' (notice this and "and whatever ye shall ask, I will do." His going to the Father brings a double blessing: The disciple; could ask for and receive everything in His Name and as a consequence, would do the greater works This first mention of prayer in our Savior's parting words teaches us two most importantlessons. Whoever wants to do the works of Jesus must pray in His Name. Whoever prays in His Name must work in His Name.
In prayer the power for work is obtained. When Jesus was here on earth, He did the greatest works Himself. Devils that the disciples could not cast out fled at His word. When He went to be with the Fether, He was no longer here in body to work directly. The disciples were now His Body. All His work from the throne in heaven must and could be done here on earth through them.
Now that Christ was leaving the scene and could only work through commissioners, it might have been expected that the works would be fewer and weaker. He assures us of the contrary: "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" (John 14:12). His approaching death was to be a breaking down of the power of sin. With the resurrection, the powers of the eternal life were to take possession of the human body and obtain supremacy over human life. With His ascension, Christ was to receive the power to communicate the Holy Spirit completely to His Body. The union-the oneness between Himself on the throne and those on earth was to be so intensely and divinely perfect, that He meant it as the literal truth: "Greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father."
And how true it was! Jesus, during three years of personal labor on earth, gathered little more than five hundred disciples, most of whom were so powerless that they weren't much help to His cause. Men like Peter and Paul did much greater things than He had done. From the throne He could do through them what He Himself in His humiliation could not yet do. He could ask the Father, receiving and bestowing new power for the greater works. And what was true for the disciples is true for us: As we believe and ask in His Name, the power comes and takes possession of us also to do the greater works.
Alas! There is little or nothing to be seen of the power to do anything like Christ's works, not to mention anything greater. There can only be one reason: the belief in Him and the believing prayer in His Name are absent. Every child of God must learn this lesson: Prayer in the Name of Jesus is the only way to share in the mighty power which Jesus has received from the Father for His people. It is in this power alone that the believer can do greater works. To every complaint about difficulties or lack of success, Jesus gives this one answer: "He that believeth on me shall do greater works, because I go to the Father, and whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do." If you want to do the work of Jesus, believe and become linked to Him, the Almighty One. Then pray the prayer of faith in His Name. Without this our work is just human and carnal. It may have some use in restraining sin or in preparing the way for a blessing, but the real power is missing. Effective working first needs effective praying.
The second lesson is this: Whoever prays must work. It is for power to work that prayer has such great promises. Power for the effective prayer of faith is gained through working. Our blessed Lord repeats no less than six times (John 14:13-14; 15:7,16; 16:23-24) those unlimited prayer-promises which evoke anxious questions as to their real meaning: "whatsoever," "anything," "what ye will," "ask and ye shall receive."Many a believer has read these with joy and hope, and in deep earnestness of soul has attempted to plead them for his own need, arid has come out disappointed. The simple reason was that he separated the promise from its context.
The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free case of His Name with the Father in conjunction with doing His works. The disciple who lives only for Jesus' work and Kingdom, for His will and honor, vain be given the power to appropriate the promise. Anyone grasping the promise only when he wants something very special for himself will be disappointed, because he is making Jesus the servant of his own comfort. But whoever wants to pray the effective prayer of faith because he needs it for the work of the Master will learn it, because he has made himself the servant of his Lord's interests. Prayer not only teaches and strengthens one for work, work teaches and strengthens one for prayer.
This is true in both the natural and the spiritual worlds. "Unto every one which hath (more) shall be given'' (Luke 19:26). Whoever is "faithful over a few things, I will make ....ruler over many things" (Matthew 25:21). With the small amount of grace we have already received, let us give ourselves to the Master for His work! It will be to us a real school of prayer. When Moses had to take full charge of a rebellious people, he felt the need, but also the courage, to speak boldly to God and to ask grea things of Him (Exodus 33:12,15,18). As you give yourself entirely to God for His work, you will feel that these great promises are exactly what you need and that you may most confidently expect nothing less.
Believer in Jesus! You are called-you are appointed -to do the works of Jesus, and even greater works He has gone to the Father to get the power to do them in and through you. Remember His promise "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do. "Give yourself and live to do the works of Christ and you will learn how to obtain wonderful answers to prayer. You will learn to do not only what He did but much more. With disciples full of faith in Himself, boldly asking great things in prayer, Christ can conquer the world.
Lord, teach us to pray.
O my Lord! Once again, I am hearing You say things that are beyond my comprehension. I can do nothing but accept them and keep them in simple childlike faith as Your gift to me. You have said than because of Your going to be with the Father, anyone who believes in You can do not only the things You have done, but greater things as well.
Lord! I worship You as the Glorified One and eagerly await the fulfillment of Your promise. May my whole life be one of continued believing in You. Purify and sanctify my heart. Make it so tenderly susceptible to Yourself and Your love that believing in You will become its very breath.
You have said that because You went to the Father, You will do whatever we ask You to do. You want Your people to share Your power. From Your throne, You want to work through them, as members of Your Body, in response to their believing prayer in Your Name. You have promised us power in our prayers to You and power in our work here on earth.
Blessed Lord! Forgive us for not believing You and Your promise more. Because of our lack of faith, we have failed to demonstrate how You are faithful to fulfill that promise. Please forgive us for so little honoring Your all-prevailing Name in heaven or on earth.
Lord! Teach me to pray so that I can prove Your Name is all powerful with God, with men, and with devils. Teach me to work and to pray in a way that glorifies You, and do Your great works through me. Amen.
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