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DOING GREATER WORKS THAN JESUS?

Updated: May 25

Did Jesus really expect us to do greater miracles than what He did? I doubt it.

Did Jesus really expect us to do greater miracles than what He did? I doubt it.


I hear people say this, but I have a hard time believing it. They are saying it based on something Jesus said in John 14:12: “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.”


While this verse clearly shows Jesus expected His ministry to continue through us, I don’t think He was saying we will do bigger and better miracles than He did.


I have heard preachers ridicule us, shame us, and even blame us, for not having more power in our lives and ministries. They often point out that we are supposed to be doing even greater miracles than Jesus. I don’t think a release of power is going to come about by scolding, and I don’t think this verse will motivate us for very long. Try it. It soon leads to the conclusion that you are not spiritual enough or holy enough. We can’t even get people to teach Sunday School or do outreach in the local park, so how are we going to get them to do greater works.


Stop and think about it. Have you ever heard of anyone doing greater works than those done by Jesus in the Four Gospels? The apostles performed many wonders by the Holy Spirit, but I don’t see any greater than what Jesus did. Perhaps some miracles were different, but certainly not greater. 


I am an avid student of church history, but I have never read about any greater miracles there than the ones done by Jesus. It’s hard for me to imagine any of our church people actually pressing in, to the extent of doing any greater works than Jesus. Incidentally, neither have I seen “greater works” in the ministries of those who chide us about this. I wish they would finish their message by giving us a practical demonstration.


When we set out to do or outdo the miracles of Jesus, we will fall short—way short! After a few failures, it becomes increasingly difficult to get motivated to yield again, “We tried, we failed, and now we believe there is something wrong with us.” We are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot with it. Perhaps the problem lies with our understanding of this verse?


GREATER OR MORE?


Some have tried to unravel this teaching by looking into the word works. Some try to despiritualize it by implying that Jesus must have been referring to something other than the miraculous, but this quickly becomes a dead end, because there is no question that He was referring to miracles. He often refers to. them as His works (John 5:36, 9:3-4, 10:32,37,38). If you try looking this word up in the Greek, you will come to a dead end.


I think the key to understanding this issue is in looking into the Greek word for greater. We usually think of greater as “bigger and better.” There is a Greek word for that, which is megaleios (GK. 3167). You can see our modern word megain this, which we use to describe anything that is the biggest or best. It is translated as “being superior, as in more miraculous, more extraordinary, or more in quality.”


However, this is not the word Jesus used. The word He used was meizon (GK. 3187) which has to do with “more, specifically in age.” This word is used to describe more in number, more in quantity, more over a longer period of time. It has to do with duration or age. This makes more sense because the reason Jesus made the statement in the first place was because “I go to my Father” which implies, “I am leaving after a short time down here – but you are going to stay around a lot longer, continuing to do what I was doing.”


Jesus was leaving after a brief three and a half years of ministry. The disciples would be able to do more miraculous works because the duration of their ministries would be longer. Someone has suggested that they were all young men. One proof is that they were too young to pay the required Temple Tax, which only Jesus and Peter paid, because they were older. When we look at their ministries, we should bear in mind that the great miracles that took place in the Acts of the apostles took place over a thirty-year period. We should not be concerned about superior miracles, but more, in terms of longevity and consistency, as we learn to yield to the Holy Spirit. This seems to be a more reasonable goal.


And let’s not forget, they were apostles. There are certain signs that accompany apostles, which do not follow all believers. Paul wrote: Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. (2 Corinthians 12:12)


We need to stop comparing ourselves with modern-day apostles like John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, or John Wimber, because there are signs that follow the office of an apostle that don’t follow all believers. It is simply a different level of proficiency and authority.


At the same time, we need to encourage people to become more open to the prospect that there are signs that follow believers, as seen in Mark 16:17-18. These signs are attainable and practical for most believers: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”


These signs are more obtainable, more doable, and more practical. Let’s start at this level and see where it leads us.


Finally, we need to bear in mind the larger point that Jesus was making: He fully expected His miraculous ministry to continue through us. He also expects us to function as He did, not in word only, but also in power. People often say they want to be like Jesus, but never prophesy or believe for healing for those in need. Let’s make that our focus instead of doing greater miracles than Jesus.


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