Jesus says something really strange in John 14:12,
“He that believes 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.”
Not surprisingly, there have been wildly different views on this. Some think that it refers to miracles. Others believe that it’s the work of conversions and evangelism, as on the day of Pentecost.
Now these are obviously not unrelated, but there is a bigger point being made here. If it were just the isolated miracle, we can point to certain instances. Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, and Peter raised Dorcas. Christ healed the sick, and the apostles healed the sick. This is all part of it, but something much larger is going on.
The greatest work that Jesus did, including all the words He spoke, was the work of revealing what God is like—so that people could see and know (14:9-10). The miracles and the parables were obviously not excluded from this, and the crucifixion was the zenith of this revelation. But think of it this way—all His works in our midst were works of infinite patience and kindness. The greatest work that Jesus did was (some might say) listening to His disciples talk about theology without punching them all. No, more than that—without even wanting to punch them all.
This is the great work assigned to the Church, the one that (by the power of the Holy Spirit) will eventually be done. The work of revealing the Father. This is the work that Jesus was talking about in v. 12. The Church is called to live and embody the Kindness of God.
The Incarnation, the perfect life of Jesus, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension—and the extension of all this at Pentecost is nothing less than Grace.
And it is this Grace that will be the visible and triumphant glory of the Church as she lives out the gospel.
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