“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
Jesus continued to instruct His beloved disciples in the upper room. This followed His various announcements concerning Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial and Jesus’ intention to go to the Father and that sinners may only do the same through personal trust, commitment, dependence and worship of Jesus Christ alone (John 13:21-14:11).
Jesus then instructed His disciples of three additional truths. We know that what Jesus said is truth because He said it wherein He also prefaced His statements with the phrase, “truly, truly” for additional emphasis. Notice that once again Jesus invokes His own authority as God with His use of the pronoun “I.”
The first truth Jesus said in today’s text is “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus said that those who belong to a particular class of people, that is those who believe in Him, will also do the works that Jesus has done. In fact, not only will believers do the works Jesus has done but they will also do greater works.
Jesus was not referring to His work of redemption which only He accomplished on the cross. Neither was He referring to a greater number of works or more spectacular works.
Rather, Jesus meant that the works the disciples would perform following Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:1-11) would be greater because they would be done in what is referred to as the church age. The birth of the New Testament church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) with the particular outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s ministry which is unique to this period. This includes the Spirit’s indwelling, baptism, regenerating, sealing, gifting, and filling of each believer in Christ.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Jesus did not mean greater works in power, but in extent. They would become witnesses to all the world through the power of the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and would bring many to salvation because of the Helper dwelling in them. The focus is on spiritual rather than physical miracles.”
Secondly, Jesus said “whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Jesus made the first of two statements concerning prayer at this point in His discourse. His statement that whatever you ask in my name refers to praying in submission to and in recognition of Jesus as Lord and Savior. If believers pray according to the will and Lordship of Jesus Christ, Christ will fulfill the request. This will be done for one singular purpose: that the Father will be glorified in what the Son accomplishes at the request of believing disciples.
This parallels what the Apostle John records in I John 5:14-15 which says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
Finally, Jesus said “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Again, this statement refers to the will of God when Jesus used the phrase “in my name.”
Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “In My name (vv. 13–14) is not a magical formula of invocation. But the prayers of believers, as Christ’s representatives doing His business, will be answered. John expanded this teaching in his first epistle. He wrote, “If we ask anything according to His will … we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14–15). To ask Me for anything in My name means to ask according to His will (cf. “in My name” in John 15:16; 16:23–24, 26).”
Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” May the Lord Jesus Christ be pleased with the work He does in and through His disciples. May we as disciples seek to glorify the Father as we serve the Son.
Soli deo Gloria!