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Questions of Faith

What did Jesus mean when he told his disciples that they would do greater work than he?

It would be helpful if we would look at the entire verse that is found in Jn. 14:12: "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." The words of Jesus are not only surprising, but feel almost sacrilegious as we consider the possibility that we can do greater works than Jesus.

Biblical scholars have encouraged us to look closely at the important word "because" in the passage. They have suggested that because Jesus left the world, and in so doing sent the Spirit to share his message and mission, we are then empowered to work on his behalf.

As miraculous as it was to feed five thousand people on a mountain side, the Spirit inspires us to feed five million who struggle to survive amid an African famine. As miraculous as it was to heal a beggar at the city gate, the Spirit inspires us to feed thousands through our food pantries and heal thousands through the nursing ministries of the church.

The mission of Christ is multiplied millions of times as we are able to become his hands, feet, and heart in the world. As the body of Christ we are able to do greater works because we are inspired by the Spirit of Christ who lives within us.

Questions of Faith ran as a regular column in The Church Herald with answers coming from Gregg Mast, Jack Cherry, and Jackie Smallbones. It continues in RCA Today with a variety of writers offering their perspectives to the greater church.

Answers in Questions of Faith reflect the views of the author and are not necessarily the views, beliefs, or official policies of the Reformed Church in America.

copyright © 2014 Reformed Church Press.

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