Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on January 22, 2017
Open your Bibles to John 14:12-31. Today we continue our journey through the Gospel of John and we find ourselves in the upper room on the night of Jesus’ arrest. Today we are going to read a large portion of Scripture and my intent is to spend at least one more Sunday, if not two in the same text. With that said, lets jumped right into this morning and read our text, we will pray, and then we will meditate upon the Word of God.
If you recall, prior to the words we just read, Jesus had just spent the previous 20 verses talking about leaving his disciples. Where is he going? He is leaving the disciples to go and die for them so as to reconcile them to their Creator. As we saw, the disciples were having a difficult time wrapping their head around the departure and death of Christ, therefore this information of Jesus leaving was devastating news to the disciples. It was a spiritual punch to the gut.
However, things start to take on a different tone in verse 12 of our text today. “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.” Lets just start with the question, “Are you kidding me?” Greater works than Jesus? Really?
Yes, really. Notice how Jesus begins this statement, “Truly, truly.” The Greek word behind this word is “amen.” We are familiar with this Greek word due to how we end our prayers, “Amen.”
When used at the end of a statement it means, “so be it” or “may it be fulfilled.” However, when it is used at the beginning of a statement, it means that what follows is true, and not only is it true, but the person who says that statement has firsthand knowledge of its truth.
If anyone has first hand knowledge about something it is Jesus. If you recall, Jesus had just said in verses 9-11 that he is equal to God. Therefore, for Jesus, who is equal to God, to say “amen” not once, but twice, is to suggest that the truth that follows is one that you can take to the bank. It is a promise of God that will not be broken.
Therefore, the question is not, is this true, but how can this be? How can it be that we, wretched sinners, clay pots, ordinary people do greater works than Jesus who can raise the dead?
A Great High Priest
First, I think it would be best to understand what Jesus means by “greater works.” When we hear “works” we immediately think about the spectacular, the miracles. We think about calming storms, multiplying bread, raising the dead. That is not what Jesus is saying when he is speaking about greater works. He is not saying that his disciples will do more spectacular things then Jesus. What he is saying is that after he leaves them, dies on the cross, and is resurrected there will exist something that has never existed before. The powerful actual reality of the Gospel.
What do I mean by this? I mean that up until the moment of the cross, the Kingdom of Christ was merely a promise. During that life of Jesus, the Kingdom was something that was upon them, but had not yet fully arrived. Jesus had not yet prepared them a place in the presence of God. The veil of the current had not yet been torn. There was still a separation between a sinful man and a holy God. This all changed at the cross. Notice what Jesus says at the end of verse 12, “because.” The reason that we will do greater works is because Jesus is going to the Father. Why does that make a difference?
First, all disciples now have access to God through Christ. Look at verse 13, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Because of the cross we have a faithful high priest that has entered into the Most Holy place. So as the author of Hebrews says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Because Christ goes to the Father, all disciples can ask in accordance of the will of Christ, and Jesus promises that he will do it.
Perhaps think about it this way. On Friday we had a transition of power in the United States. From the perspective of republicans, in general, this is seen as a good thing. Last week, I misspoke and said that last Sunday was Sanctity of Human life Sunday, it is actually today. Now that republicans have a representative in in the White House many of our our hoping that he will do all he can to end abortion. His presence in DC gives us hope that our voice will be heard. Jesus, at a high greater level, now stands in the presence of the Creator advocating for our will when it matches his will.
Now, I want us to also notice what Jesus does not say. Jesus does not say to pray to Mary, or anyone else. He speaks of praying to Him and praying in His name. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” When you pray, you pray to God alone, in the name of Jesus. Praying to Mary is a sin. Why? Because she is not God. She is a sinner in need of a Savior. This is why Mary sang in Luke 1:46, “My soul magnifies the Lord,47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” The only people who need a Savior are sinners. If you have no sin, you don't need saved. Therefore, if you are praying to Mary, stop it. It is absolutely, 100 percent wrong. If anyone is telling you or teaching you to pray to Mary, run as fast as you can from them. They are a false teacher, who will have to give an account on the day of judgment for leading people away from the truth of God.
Now the second reason that our work will be a greater work is found in verse 16, Jesus says “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Who is Jesus speaking about? He is speaking about the Holy Spirit. The Third person of the Trinity. Let's take some time to unpack this other Helper.
First, let us recognize that Jesus refers to the Helper as a person. He does not say “it”, as if the Helper is an impersonal force. The Holy Spirit exists as a relational being. A number of verses speak to this reality. We are told the Holy Spirit speaks, teaches, bears witness, forbids, intercedes, has a mind, has knowledge, posses love, and has a will. We are told He can be grieved, blasphemed against, insulted, resisted and lied to. An impersonal forces does not have these attributes, only a personal being does.
Second, Jesus designates the person-hood of the Spirit as masculine. Jesus refers to the Helper as a him three times in verse 17. Does this mean that the helper has sexual organs, no. The Holy Spirit is spirit, but it does mean that God views the Holy Spirit as a masculine. The reason I mention this is that there is a feminist movement that wants to change God's Word and make the Holy Spirit a women. For those of you who are familiar with the blasphemous book, the Shack, the author portrays the Holy Spirit as an Asian women. Why? Because the author has an ungodly agenda. There is no Biblical support for seeing the Holy Spirit as a women, and we should shudder with the thought of changing the Words of an Almighty God.
Third, let us examine the word helper. In Greek it is the word, “paraklētos” (pä-rä'-klā-tos). Which means to “call along side”. What is interesting is that this calling along side is a legal one. In secular writing, parakletos meant a “legal assistant or advocate.” In fact, if you use the NIV, this is how they translate it, advocate. This makes sense, for an advocate speaks the truth on your behalf, and that seems to be what Jesus is emphasizing in verse 17 when he says, “Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit's primary function is to advocate for the Truth, namely Jesus.
Fourth, let us now look at the word “another” in “another helper.” This is actually a very interesting word. First it implies that you already had a Helper, or advocate. You can't have another, unless you already had one. So what does Jesus mean by this? Think about it in the context of the night. Jesus is leaving them. They are struggling with his departure. But now he tells them, not to worry, for he will send a replacement for himself, another Helper.
Now what is really interesting about this word “another” is that the Greek for it is “allon.” What is interesting is that there are two words that can be used for another. Heteros and allon. Heteros means another of a different kind, such as heterosexual. Another sex. A sex of a different kind. “Allon” on the other hand means another of the same kind. This helper that the Father is going to send to the disciples is of the same kind as Jesus. How similar? Perfectly similar. Exactly the same.
How do I know this? Look at verse 17, how does Jesus introduce the Holy Spirit, “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” What does Jesus mean that they know him for he dwells with you? Who dwells with them? Jesus does. John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” They know this Spirit because he is in every way like Jesus. We are told in John 1:14 that Jesus is full of truth. We are told in John 14:6 that Jesus is the truth. Now Jesus says, I am going to the Father to send you the Spirit of the truth.
As many of you already know, the word Trinity is not in the Bible, but the truth behind it is. This is where we see Jesus begin to pull back the veil of one God in three persons. Last week we saw Philip say in John 14:8, “show us the father” and Jesus responds, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me.” Now we see Jesus say I am going to send you another Helper, you know him already because he stands before you. The concept of the Trinity is incomprehensible to our creature minds, but this does not make it untrue. It merely means that we have a God who is awesome.
God in Us
However, perhaps what is even more incomprehensible is that an incomprehensible God, chooses to dwell within sinners. Verse 17, “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Verse 20, “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Verse 23, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” God has chosen to take up residence in the heart of the redeemed. This is true for all Christians. In fact, if you do not have the Spirit of God dwelling in you, then you are not a Christian. Romans 8:9, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”
This is the difference between the religious and the redeemed, Christ dwells within his true disciples. And this is why we will do the works of Christ, for we have the Spirit of Christ. And this is why we will do greater works then Christ, for there is not just one of us, but there are millions of us. Each one of us having within us the light of Christ shining forth into the darkness of this world, the Spirit of Truth proclaiming the excellencies of Jesus.
Whoever Believes in Me
And who are these disciples of Jesus? Jesus tells us in verse 12. “whoever believes in me.” As we see again and again, the foundation to everything is faith in Jesus. Those who have true saving faith will have a faithful high priest, those who have a true saving faith will receive another Helper, those who have a true saving faith will have the Tri-Une God take up residence inside of their heart, those who have true saving faith will be a part of doing greater works then Christ.
The only requirement is faith. This is true for “whoever”; Jew and gentile, black and white, young and old, rich and poor, male and female, new believer and mature believer, republican and democrat, American or Indian. Upon believing in Christ, you have everything you need to turn the world upside down in the same way Jesus did.
If you don't believe me, just look at Peter. Just a few hours from these moments Peter will deny Jesus three times. 40 days later Jesus ascended to the Father, and on the day of Pentecost, who showed up? Another another Helper, the Spirit of Truth. And Peter stood before the same crowd the killed Jesus fifty days earlier and rebuked them for killing the Author of Life, and you know what happened? Acts 2:41 tells us that 3,000 people put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior. When Jesus died on the cross there was only 120 followers of Christ in Jerusalem. Now there were 3120. How is this possible? Only one way? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
That same Spirit lives in each of us, and we have been given the same command, go and make disciples. So let us, by the power of Christ within us, get to work. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” But not just good works, but greater works.