In John 14:12, Jesus makes a promise to his disciples and to all who believe in him. 

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.

John 14:12 (NIV)

Today in Sunday School, someone asked about this verse. “What greater works can we do?” When we read the Bible, we read of Jesus doing some amazing stuff, and what we read doesn’t come close to capturing it all. From raising the dead, walking on water, healing people, and feeding two enormous crowds of people on two separate occasions, that’s a very high bar. If you’ve not done any of that, you’re not cutting it as a Christian. 

At least, that’s what some people might be thinking when they think of the “greater works” and then look at their lives. The good news is that Jesus wasn’t talking about any of that. Before I get into what Jesus was talking about, we should examine this verse in context. 

In John 14, Jesus is telling his disciples that there’s only one way to God. Through Him. He tells them, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6-7 NIV). 

Philip astutely asks Jesus, “show us the Father and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8 NIV). 

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. 11 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 (emphasis added).

John 14:9-11 (NIV)

In verse 11, Jesus advises his disciples to believe in the evidence of the works that have been done if they don’t believe that he and the Father are one. The next verse is where Jesus promises that we’ll do even greater works than he did. This is likely why people might get confused about those “greater works.” 

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.

John 14:13-14 (NIV)

Verses 13 and 14 might also cause a bit of confusion if we’re just thinking about those works; raising the dead, feeding large amounts of people, etc. While God can do all of those things, the “greater works” Jesus is talking about have to do with what he next talks about. 

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14:15-17 (NIV)

The Holy Spirit. Before Jesus was glorified, the Holy Spirit filled people on occasion but didn’t dwell within them as he does now in we who are saved. However, now that Jesus has been glorified, the same Holy Spirit that dwelled within him and raised him from the dead lives in us. 

For all the miraculous works Jesus did, there were only about 120 people who were saved from his earthly ministry when he was glorified (cf. Acts 1:15). However, after the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost in Acts 2 upon the disciples, about 3,000 people were saved that same day! Think about it. Jesus ministered on Earth for three years, and about 120 people were saved. After he was glorified, 25 times that amount are saved in one day after the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples!

This is what the greater works were that Jesus was talking about in John 14:12. He wasn’t talking about resurrecting the dead or feeding large numbers of people. Jesus was talking about the ministry coming after him and all of the people that would consequently be saved. Something that wasn’t going to happen if he hadn’t been glorified. 

When you think about the greater works you are doing in the name of Jesus, don’t be discouraged if you haven’t raised the dead or anything like that. In fact, raising the dead or feeding massive amounts of people is nothing compared to the saving of eternal souls! Also, remember that it’s not you or me doing any of it. It’s the Holy Spirit working through us.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.