Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
Last week I celebrated by 37th birthday and it was nothing monumental. But out of curiosity, I researched some of the great accomplishments people have achieved before their 37th birthday. Michelangelo finished painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Robert Jarvik invented a pneumatically powered heart .Frederic William Herschel invented the contact lens. Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled Banner.” Amelia Earhart flew in an airplane across the Atlantic by herself. Last year, I successfully replaced a broken taillight on my car all by myself (applause please).
The greatest accomplishment in the world came nearly 2000 years ago when Jesus paid the penalty for sin as He died on a cross around the age of thirty-three. Just a few days before this event, the Lord would tell His disciples something truly amazing and intriguing. “You will do greater things than I have done.”
We need to rewind for a moment. The Son of God came to this earth through a miraculous birth and lived a perfect life. He performed countless miracles and emerged as the greatest teacher to ever live. He shouldered the weight of our sin and, in perfect humility and obedience, made the greatest sacrifice of love by offering Himself for us. What could someone do that is greater than the sum of these?
As Jesus sits with His disciples in the upper room for the last time, He proclaims this incredible promise. Judas has been dismissed and the disciples are trembling with fear. Their hearts are trouble at the prophetic instructions from the Lord about the events of the next few days. He speaks to them words of hope. He tells them, “You will do greater things than I have done.”
The current world record for running the mile is three minutes and forty three second, which is held by Hicham El Guerrouj. What if I told you that I possess a single pill that would enable you to break this record no matter your age or medical condition? Would say I was insane or question my truthfulness? The promise of Jesus was even more preposterous. That is until we clearly understand what these “greater works” are.
Jesus is talking about the results of the message that occur after His death and resurrection. This was all part of God’s plan. Jesus was preparing the disciples for a worldwide movement. What the body of Christ can do together in unity is incomprehensible.
When we see a verse like this, it is our unfortunate tendency to soften it. Jesus must have meant that the first disciples would do greater things, right? For example, after Peter’s first sermon, 3,000 people got saved. That result was a greater work. The Apostle Paul would take the Gospel throughout the entire Roman Empire. That progress was a greater work. We can think of many people throughout church history who have achieved great things for the cause of Christ. There is only one problem with thinking that Jesus is only talking about people with some kind of elite spiritual status: verse 12. “Whoever believes in Me…” Jesus simply states that every believer has this potential.
How are we to do greater works? Jesus gives us the two ingredients in the next few verses. “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Pastor Ray Stedman once stated, “It is significant to note that, though Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach, he did teach them how to pray.” We cannot do anything great for the Kingdom of God unless we are connected to our Lord and His Will. We are not working for ourselves, but in His Power. Prayer is the essential first step of any great endeavor for the believer and for the Body.
The second ingredient for “greater things” is the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not have the strength to walk with Christ by ourselves. Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play major league baseball, but this pioneering came at a price. Jackie was criticized heavily for every single mistake. Once when he was playing on the team’s home field, he committed an error and the fans ridiculed him ruthlessly. That is until Pee Wee Reece, the shortstop, came over, put his arm around Robinson, and turned to the crowd. The crowd became instantly silent and Robinson believed that this moment saved his career.
Jesus stated that the Holy Spirit is our Helper. The root of the greek word comes from fortis, meaning to fortify or strengthen. The Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is like the steel beams that hold up a skyscraper. He is like the spine in a person’s back that keeps the Body standing. The Holy Spirit is not an accessory to the Christian life. He is absolutely essential. We could do nothing spiritually without His leading and teaching.
What “greater thing” does God have for you? What is the potential for your life and mine if we would simply yield to the work of the Holy Spirit? Only God knows the answer, but we do have the promise. ”I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these...”