Question: What did Jesus mean when He said we would do GREATER WORKS than he did"?
Answer: The statement is found in the Gospel of John:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, 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."
Jesus in this passage was referring to the many miracles that He had performed while on earth.
The following verses confirm that it was MIRACLES that our Lord Jesus did:
But I have a greater witness than John's; for the WORKS which the Father has given Me to finish--the very WORKS that I do--bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the WORKS themselves.
If I had not done among them the WORKS which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
4 God also bearing witness both with SIGNS and WONDERS, with various MIRACLES, and GIFTS of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
Jesus performed many miracles even raising the dead. However, He was NOT suggesting that WE perform greater MIRACLES that He did.... The latter portion of the verse has nothing to do with miracles as such, nor does it refer to Preaching the Gospel.
To best understand what He meant, we note that when our Lord Jesus miraculously healed someone of their illness, it was not the greatest work he could do. In fact, He did not heal everyone in Israel at the time nor attempt to do so. The point of His healing of physical infirmities was proof positive that he had power, on earth, to FORGIVE them of their sins, that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, Immanuel, our Savior.
1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.
2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you."
3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!"
4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?
5 For which is easier, to say, "Your SINS ARE FORGIVEN you," or to say, "Arise and walk'?
6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"--then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and GO TO YOUR HOUSE."
7 And he arose and departed to his house.
8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
By healing the physical infirmities of the people, the resultant miracle was wonderful, but He himself was not laying down His life for them. He would do this at a later time and for a far greater benefit.
(Healing the Leper)
And He said to him, "Arise, GO YOUR WAY. Your faith has made you well."
(Healing the Blind)
51 So Jesus answered and said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight." 52 Then Jesus said to him, "GO YOUR WAY; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road
Oh, how we wish we had the miraculous gift of healing today. It would be just wonderful to pronounce them healed and then say "GO YOUR WAY". If we could in fact do this, a great miracle would be performed, but God's Love (in us) toward that person would not be evident.
The result now, that instead of instantly healing someone and telling them to GO THEIR WAY as our Lord did, we now show forth the LOVE of GOD toward others by:
Thus, LAYING DOWN our LIVES.... for it is written:
Greater LOVE has no one than this, than to LAY DOWN one's LIFE for his friends. And this laying down is LOVE...
When love is administered, then that person must stop what THEY are doing and DO WHAT IS REQUIRED, put their shoulder to the burden, thus become a "LIVING SACRIFICE".
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have LOVE for ONE ANOTHER."
This is My commandment, that you LOVE ONE ANOTHER as I have loved you.
May I say, when Jesus performed each wonderful and spectacular miracle on the diseased, the crippled, the blind, the lame, the lepers, HE DIDN'T LAY DOWN HIS LIFE for ANY of THEM. He was NOT A LIVING SACRIFICE ! ! !
For each miracle that He performed He said (or it was implied), BE HEALED and GO YOUR WAY.... Yes, go away in the physical sense, but in the Spiritual sense, Jesus says: Follow ME....
Our Lord Jesus would indeed LOVE us, but not by devoting his life to healing ALL the sick, for in fact He didn't, or spending the remainder of His life ministering to one or more diseased persons as we are sometimes required to do. No, he would LOVE us all by laying down his life for ALL. He would accomplish this Greatest Work after His earthly ministry was done.
But God demonstrates His own LOVE toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ DIED (laid down his life) for us
Of course Jesus would provide for God's ultimate love for us. God would lay down His life for us on the cross, not to have a physical and temporary healing, but that we might have Eternal Life.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (On the Cross), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE.
So our Lord has called us to a higher calling than even our Lord Jesus did with respect to performing miracles. We are to lay down our lives and thus manifest God's love toward ONE ANOTHER. In this fast paced world of ours, it seems more expedient that if we could just HEAL someone and be done with it, then that would be the best way and we could just say: "BE HEALED and GO YOUR WAY". After that, You can get back to your business and I can get back to mine. Such an act would produce a wonderful RESULT, but not wonderful LOVE.
But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE.....
The remainder of so much of the writings in the Epistles has to do with our LOVE toward one another, and next to nothing is said about performing miracles. After the Epistle of I Corinthians, there is a shift from the Sign Gifts to a greater emphasis on LOVE for ONE ANOTHER. As you proceed through the book of Acts, you see the same thing.
1 Thessalonians 3
11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.
12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in LOVE to ONE ANOTHER and to all, just as we do to you,
13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
2 Thessalonians 1
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the LOVE of EVERY ONE of YOU all abounds toward each other,
4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,
9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and LABOR of LOVE which you have shown toward His name, in that you have MINISTERED to the saints, and DO MINISTER.
11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,
1 Peter 4:8
And above all things have fervent LOVE for ONE ANOTHER,
1 John 3:16
By this we know LOVE, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to LAY DOWN our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:23
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and LOVE ONE ANOTHER, as He gave us commandment.
Food for Thought --
Could there be a fundamental reason that a great desire exists to purse the "Gift of Healing" among Christians today?
So the scriptures have answered our question. We will do Greater Works than our Lord Jesus did. His miracles did not, of themselves, administer His Greatest Work toward the people.
In some cases you hear of a family who has one born who has a serious birth defect of some sort or and elderly family member who requires care. One Christian family decides to shoulder the burden. Another Christian family decides to abandon the child, the elderly, or whatever, and forfeit the work that is placed before them. So you see my beloved, that our Lord is omnipotent in such matters.
1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.
2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the WORKS of GOD should be revealed in him.
For Christians, our Lord commands:
Bear one another's burdens, and so FULFILL the LAW of CHRIST
I Cor 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the GREATEST of THESE is LOVE.
If you were given the "Gift of Healing" you could just empty out the hospitals on a daily basis. However, this would not require you to lay down your life for any of them...
Greater LOVE has no one than this, than to Lay Down One's Life for his friends.
Therefore, up until the time that our Lord Jesus went to the cross on your behalf, you are to do greater works than He did. Although His healing ministry was wonderful in so many ways, it did not require Him to lay down his life for the people that He healed. You are required to do a work which He didn't do by laying down your life for those who need your help.
In what way has our Lord Jesus asked YOU to do a greater work than He did?