Through the Bible in One Year

Day 161

John 14:8-14

So far we have seen two of the five reasons that Jesus’ departure was to his disciples advantage.  The first reason we saw was that Jesus was going to prepare a better place.  And the second reason we saw was that Jesus was showing them the way to the Father.  And in today’s passage we see reasons three and four, which Jesus combined because they go hand in hand, as we will see when read this passage.  The two reasons that we see are today are: to provide greater intimacy of relationship with the Father and to enable them to do greater works.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.—14:8-14

Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father.  He likely thought a theophany, which is a visible manifestation to humankind of God, like Abraham (Genesis 18:1) or Moses (Exodus 3:6) had experienced.  The disciples failed to understand that Jesus perfectly reveals the Father by his words and deeds.  Philip’s lack of perception demonstrates a lack of faith in the mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son.  Philip’s misunderstanding earned a slight rebuke from Jesus.  If Jesus’ words were too difficult for him to believe, then he should believe Jesus’ works.  In fact, Jesus’ departure to the Father would enable the disciples to perform “greater” works than he performed.  The statement is somewhat surprising, when one considers the amazing signs Jesus performed in this Gospel, how could the disciples do greater works?  These “greater things” probably refer to the spread of the gospel throughout the world, bringing salvation to those outside the land of Israel.  These works would be accomplished by prayer.  To pray in Jesus’ name is to make requests that correspond to Jesus’ character and will.

Now let’s take a closer look at the last three verses of this section, verses 12-14.  And we are going to start with verse 12, which says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

It is Jesus’ desire that his followers continue to do the works that he did.  And we see two big things in this verse about the “greater things” we will do.

  1. The “greater things” include spreading Jesus’ message, leading people to faith in Christ and performing miracles as Jesus did.  This is shown throughout the book of Acts and in Jesus’ declaration in Mark 16:17-18.  Through Jesus’ followers, an even greater number of people would come to Christ and receive new life, healing and supernatural help.
  2. The “greater things” would not happen because of the disciples’ own efforts or spirituality.  Their work would still be Jesus’ work, done only in the power of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus would send once he returned to his Father.  Jesus’ followers could then pray in his name, and God would respond in powerful ways through his Spirit.  As a result, the disciples’ works will be “greater” in number and scope, as Christ’s message and power continue to reach people throughout the world.

And now let’s turn to the last two verse of this section, verses 13-14, which say, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Asking for something in Jesus’ name means being completely aware of who he is, what he is capable of doing and what his purposes are.  It means acting as his representative, with his power and authority.  It involves giving him honor and following his purposes in all we do.  For this reason, our prayer’s in Jesus’ name must:

  1. Reflect Jesus’ character and be consistent with his desires and purposes.
  2. Demonstrate faith in him and his authority.
  3. Reveal a sincere a desire to honor both the Father and the Son.

Prayers offered with this attitude and awareness will build faith and provide peace that God is in control and will do what is best for us.  Jesus will answer any prayer that he would have prayed himself—that is perfectly in line with his purposes.  There is no limit to the power of prayer when it is addressed to Jesus or the Father with sincere faith and according to his desire.  And we will pick up from here tomorrow as we discuss Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

1 Kings 9-10, Acts 8:14-40, Psalm 130:1-8 and Proverbs 17:2-3

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