Responsive Reading: John 14:1-15
Key Verse(s): John 14:12
Background Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:8-22
In our key verse for today’s message, Jesus tells His disciples, “he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” Now, think about that statement for a moment — Greater works, Jesus says, the follower of Christ will do in comparison to the works that He did. Do you believe this? Do you believe you can do greater works than Christ? How determined are you to do such? Are you a determined servant of Christ?
We Can Do Greater
The very thought that we could do greater works than Christ would cause some of us to hesitate or to even laugh at the very thought. I believe we would all wonder how it could even be possible for us to do greater works than Christ. Yet, Jesus was very confident in what we can do as His followers.
The works of Christ
Off the top of our heads, we will consider all of the great miracles that Jesus performed and the signs that He showed. Jesus, as we know, healed the blind, made the lame walk again, cured the sick in their illness, cast out demons, and even raised a man from the dead.
Now, we know that Jesus did even more than just the famous miracles that we can think of off the top of our heads. Jesus was always very uplifting in His love towards all people but especially towards those that love and follow Him – those He would go on to call His friends (John 15:13-15).
Jesus, in the three years of His ministry, opened eyes and shined a light on the truth and the kingdom of God through His teachings and His preaching. So, in summary, when we consider the works of Christ, He came with a message of mercy, forgiveness, and salvation – victory – to all people.
How can we do greater works
So, the idea of us being able to do greater works than those Jesus did would simply leave us wondering – how could that even be possible?
We would consider right away that we cannot make the blind to see with just the touch of our hands, nor can we lay hands on someone to make them walk again. We would consider that if someone was just to grab the hem of our garments that they would not be cured of any kind of illness. So, why would Christ say that we could do greater works than those He did?
In the book of Acts, the answer is given to us through the apostles. When the apostles first set out in ministering they performed some of the same miracles Jesus did. Yet, over time, the miracles stopped and the apostles’ preaching of Christ became more prevalent. Why did the performing of miracles fade away? I would suggest to you that it was because a greater work needed to be done for the soul.
You see, the miracles could only go so far. Even when Jesus performed miracles, the people would be caught up in the miracles and would only follow Him to be amazed by the next miracle rather than learn to believe in Christ in their hearts (John 6:26-27). Jesus eventually called those that followed Him for this reason out and questioned their faith. They would then ask Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God (John 6:28)?” Jesus responded to them, “believe in Him whom He sent (John 6:29).”
The greater works
Faith is still required today. We should not limit ourselves to the idea that we cannot do greater works than the works of Christ because we cannot perform a miracle physically.
As shown in the book of Acts, on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles had received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), Peter stood and preached of Christ to all of the people that had gathered together in Jerusalem. Scripture declares to us that those who gladly received the message of Christ were baptized that day and about 3,000 souls were added to the kingdom of God (Acts 2:14-41). Does that sound like a great work to you?
There was no physical miracle of healing done by Peter – just him using his voice to lead people to Christ. You see, we may not be able to physically heal a body with our touch, yet, we are able to share Christ to anybody. Like Peter, we are able to lead souls away from spiritual death and to Christ! How is that not a great work?
You see, the greater work that Jesus said that we can do is just that: loving and caring for others to help restore, heal, and save souls. We may not be able to perform a miracle that can cause the blind to see, make the lame walk, but I tell you that we can certainly lead people to the One that can heal and save a soul.
Instructions for the Servant of Christ
Do you believe you can do greater works than Christ? This, to me, is such an interesting thought because some of us will still doubt that we can do what Christ says we can do. Yet, we are left with instructions from the Lord as to how we go about doing even greater works.
The great task
Christ instructed us through the Great Commission to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; to teach all people all things that Christ commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). In essence, we are instructed not to be closed off from others but to be open; we should reach out to all people with the message of the kingdom of God.
For this reason we are to do the great work of ministering Christ — to save souls through sharing Christ and the kingdom of God. Someone might ask, what are we saving souls from? In Joel 2:28-32, the prophet prophesied about the day of the Lord; he said that the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand (Joel 2:1). Because the day of the Lord is coming and is at hand, Joel prophesied that God would pour out His spirit on all who would believe – men and women, sons and daughters.
As we saw in my sermon last week – Heaven Is on My Mind – the hour is coming and now is (John 5:25). We live in a day where God has poured out His Spirit on all of those who have genuinely believed in His only begotten Son. We are guided in our hearts by the Spirit to preach the kingdom of God and to warn of that Day; this message is to encourage people to go to Christ — for this reason we are able to do greater work!
To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “God did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9).” As you have heard me say before, God does not desire for any soul to suffer wrath – His wrath – because they ignorantly chose to live in sin (in opposition to Him). For this reason God has commissioned us so great a calling: to do the great work of leading souls away from sin and eternal death.
These reasons motivate me to keep the instructions of Christ and to reach out to as many souls as I possibly can with God’s message! I am so determined that I often find myself wondering if I am doing enough as I want to do more! As a servant of Christ, we are obligated to move with this drive and passion to let the world know about the kingdom of God and that the day of the Lord is coming – people must be made ready!
Sadly, I look around today and it seems that most people are not getting themselves ready. Why is that the case? I feel that this comes from the end result of a lack of drive – a lack of motivation – from those who should be sharing God’s message. We, the servants of Christ, can do more. We can do greater works, but many of us believers seem to settle for the thought that we cannot do anything.
Imagine that — a servant of Christ believing that they can do nothing. So I ask you today, how determined are you as a servant of Christ to do nothing? I ask you today, how determined are you as a servant of Christ to try and do something? Here lies another great work that the determined servant of Christ must perform as Jesus performed for those around Him.
Exhortations for the believer
As I mentioned earlier, yes, Jesus did great works through many miracles but another great work of His that often gets overlooked is His work of constantly uplifting those around Him. How often are you uplifting those around you, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ? I feel that we as believers are always in need of uplifting and that we often miss out on the opportunity of serving one another.
Serve each other
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul set aside a portion of his letter to exhort the Thessalonians to do the great work of uplifting and serving one another. This is a great work that is so vital, especially within the congregation of faith, because those that labor for the Lord are often beat upon by this world that we live in.
Now, this was not new instructions coming from Paul as Jesus taught the apostles the great work of serving one another. At the Feast of Passover, the disciples argued over who out of them was greater. Jesus set forth a very powerful example when He took that opportunity to wash their feet in service to them (John 13:1-16).
Jesus then said to them, “He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.” He then asked, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves (Luke 22:24-30).” If we cannot do right by each other in the faith, how can we do right by those outside of the faith?
Comfort each other
So, with this thought in mind, Paul first exhorts us to comfort and edify one another (1 Thess. 5:11). This exhortation is an exhortation of encouragement; we are to encourage each other in doing the great work of Christ. Again, so often, we meet challenge after challenge that can be so great and so overwhelming for the servant of Christ. As relentless as the challenges are, the comfort and uplifting should exceed that for the servant of Christ. A little comfort and uplifting can go a long way in keeping the servant of Christ motivated and determined in doing the good work of God.
With this thought in mind, Paul continued in his next exhortation by urging us to recognize others who labor for the Lord. Paul tells us to esteem (respect and admire) the fellow laborer very highly in love for their great work (1 Thess. 5:12). I genuinely believe that we ought to appreciate one another in the work we do for the kingdom of God.
Too often I feel we punch down on each other when we should be supporting one another. From personal experience, I tell you that it can be very easy for the servant of Christ to feel like they are on an island all alone; it can be an isolating labor. We should recognize and esteem (support) each other as a means to keep all of us uplifted in our soul. By comforting, edifying, recognizing, and esteeming each other, Paul says that we should be at peace among ourselves.
Keep each other in line
After saying that we should be at peace among ourselves in the faith, Paul exhorts the servant of Christ to warn those who are unruly (1 Thess. 5:14). This – keeping each other in line – is another great work of the servant of Christ that we must not take lightly.
The unruly, we should understand, are those that walk out of step in the faith. As servants of Christ, there is one message we ought to share and we should all move on one accord. In a sense, Paul spoke about the unruly as those who walked in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but were busybodies that did their own thing (2 Thess. 3:6-7,11).
The unruly servant of Christ moved in a manner that could sow doubt and confusion. Here is where the determined servant of Christ is called to warn the unruly so as not to sow any doubt or confusion among those who are of the faith and even those who are out of the faith.
The unruly, by doing their own thing, are a danger to themselves and to others as they could lead themselves and others away from the truth. Again, I am determined to lead people towards the truth – that is Christ – what about you? James said it best, the determined servant of Christ can save the souls of those that wander from the truth from death, spiritually, and cover a multitude of sins (Jas. 5:19-20). Again, I tell you, this is a great work that you and I are more than able to perform and should be performing!
On this thought, Paul exhorted us further to comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, and to be patient with all (1 Thess. 5:13). The faint of heart, we should understand, are those who are too fearful to move in the service of the Lord. The weak are those who are weak in faith. We should be patient in encouraging and strengthening those of little to no faith so that they can withstand this wicked world and also be made ready for the kingdom of God.
Determined to Serve
This, again, I tell you, is a great work — uplifting all of those around us, those in the faith and those out of the faith. This work is truly the greater work that Jesus said we will do and is greater than those He did. I ask you again, do you believe you can do these great works? Are you determined to do these greater works?
We should never take the task laid out before us by Christ so lightly. Personally, I believe that both the world and the church is in the shape they are in because the servants of Christ have slacked off in their service; the great work has slowed down to the point to where it almost seems to be fading away. God has blessed all of us with wonderful gifts but we are not putting these gifts to any use – this must change.
Paul encouraged Timothy to stir up the gift of God which was in him through the laying on of Paul’s hands; Paul spoke of the giving of the Holy Spirit that was dwelling within Timothy. The Holy Spirit has been poured out on all believers and today I encourage you to stir up the gift that God has poured out on to you.
Lastly, Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to see that no one renders evil for evil, but to always pursue what is good (1 Thess. 5:15). We should always be determined as a servant of Christ to pursue what is good amongst not only ourselves but also all of those around us.
I genuinely believe that if we keep to the instructions that have been laid out before us that we will most certainly produce great works just as those who came before us. I think of people like my dad who were unashamed when it came to letting people know about the Lord. With his voice and his actions, he did the great work of opening many eyes to the Lord. This is the greater work that we can do — open hearts to the Lord.
I encourage you today to have faith and believe what Christ said you are able to do! Let the Holy Spirit take over and guide you in your labors for the kingdom of God. We have the privilege to be able to reach out to hearts today through the inner dwelling of the Spirit, and by the Spirit’s guidance we can lead souls to Christ.
Again, we may not be able to heal and restore a physical body by our touch, but by the words of God we can heal and restore a soul unto His glory. How is that not a great work? I exhort you today to move with no shame but move with great faith and determination in the hope of Christ – mighty and great will your works be if you do so.