Following Jesus With Great Expectations
John 14:12-14 (KJV) 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth 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. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 14:12–14 is a part of the Upper Room Discourse (John 13–16). The disciples assembled to celebrate the Passover, not attend the Last Supper. It was a festive occasion, until Jesus broke the bad news. One of the twelve would betray Him (John 13:21). He was going away. And Peter would deny Him (John 13:38).
It seemed the mission of Jesus was doomed to fail. But in John 14:12–14, Jesus declares that this new phase of His mission will not only continue the work He performed on earth; it will exceed it. In a real sense, the Acts of the Apostles is a commentary on John 14:12–14. But it is not the end of the story. The mission of Jesus continues through you and me. This scripture gives three reasons why we should follow Jesus with great expectations.
1. We have a sovereign promise that enables us to do great things for God (v. 12).
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth 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.
In order to embrace this promise, you must first recognize that Jesus is talking to and about born-again Christians. Jesus identified the beneficiaries of this promise as “he who believes in Me.” This promise is not limited to the original disciples, the apostolic age, or the early church. It applies to any and every believer. It also gives us an objective way to identify those who have true saving-faith.
a. True believers share the work of Christ.
The importance of Christian service. Jesus assumes believers work. We are justified by faith alone. But it is not a faith that is alone. True faith is accompanied by holy desires, loving obedience, and good works (Eph. 2:8–10). Faith works!
Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV) 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The nature of Christian service. Faith works. But the good works of true believers are more than random acts of kindness. We are to continue the work of the Lord Jesus. We are to fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV) 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
b. True believers surpass the work of Christ.
What does it mean for believers to do “greater works” than Jesus did? It is “greater” in nature. It makes sense that the Father would use Jesus to represent Him, save the lost, and advance the kingdom. Jesus is the unique, divine, and sinless Son of God. But it is a greater work for God to use sinful people like you and me. It is also “greater” in scope. The ministry of Jesus was limited by time and space. But His disciples were commissioned to reach “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We have means of reaching the ends of the earth today that the early church could not imagine.
Furthermore, it is “greater” in effect. Jesus ministered to multitudes during His early ministry. But when the Lord ascended to the Father, His movement only consisted of 120 people (Acts 1:15). But on the day of Pentecost, more than 3,000 people were baptized as followers of Christ (Acts 2:41). Since then, untold millions have trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord. And there is no limit to what the Lord can do in and through us if we follow Him with great expectations.
2. We have a special partner that enables us to do great things for God (v. 12).
Jesus said, “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.” This is the reason why the followers of Jesus will do greater works. The mission of Jesus is to continue through His disciples. This required the Lord’s departure. But the Lord’s departure would result in the Holy Spirit’s arrival. After the Lord Jesus was glorified through His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, He would send the Holy Spirit to abide in every believer (John 7:37–39). This is the reason we can live and minister with great expectations. We have a special partner who lives in us to help us to know the truth, live obediently, resist temptation, endure hardship, and do great things to the glory of God.
3. We have a special privilege that enables us to do great things for God (v. 13).
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
a. Pray in the name of Jesus.
What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus? First, to pray in the name of Jesus is to pray with dependence upon Him. The privilege that enables us to pray to the Father is not based on our worthiness. We go to God in prayer with confidence in the name of the only One who is worthy of an answered prayer. Likewise, to pray in the name of Jesus is to pray with devotion to Him (Col. 3:17). Colossians 3:17 (KJV) 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. It is to pray for things that are pleasing to Him. It is to pray for things that line up with His character. It is to pray for things that advance His cause.
b. Pray to the glory of God.
Verse 13 says, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The purpose of prayer is not that you may have your desires granted, needs met, goals reached, dreams fulfilled, or problems solved. It is that the Father may be glorified. God is glorified in the Son (14:31). In the name of Jesus, we are to live and labor to reach lost men, women, boys, and girls with the gospel of salvation.
c. Pray with great expectations.
Note the scope of this promise of answered prayer. Verse 13 says, “Whatever you ask in My name.” Verse 14 says, “If you ask anything in My name.” Nothing is excluded from the word whatever. Everything is included in the term anything. This is a claim of deity. Only God can answer prayer. Yet Jesus claims to be the means of answered prayer. Do you believe this? If you do, pray with great expectations to the glory of God.
High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.
Let’s play ‘Let’s Pretend’. Let’s pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until a new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family and move to Europe for six to eight months. And I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you directions and instructions. I leave and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival, I drive down to the office and I am stunned. Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the Receptionist’s room. She is doing her nails, chewing gum and listening to her favorite disco station. I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing. The carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I asked about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, "I think he’s down there." Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office, which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas. "What in the world is going on, man?" "What do you mean?" "Well, look at this place! Didn’t you get any of my letters?" "Letters? Oh yes! Sure! I got every one of them. As a matter of fact, we have had a letter study every Friday since you left. We have even divided the personnel into small groups to discuss many of the things you wrote. Some of the things were really interesting. You will be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two - Great stuff in those letters."
"OK. You got my letters. You studied them and meditated on them; discussed and even memorized them. But what did you do about them?" "Do? We didn’t do anything about them." (Improving Your Serve, Chuck Swindoll)
Are you sharing in the work of Christ? Are you part of His community so that together with others in His body you can do greater things? Are you praying in such a way that your answered prayers would advance His cause and glorify His name?
If so, you are following Jesus with great expectations. If n we need to repent and get busy not just studying His Word; discussing His Word; or even memorizing His Word, but living it out and doing it every day.