When Jesus was planning His Church – the one that He is currently building – He made some powerful and phenomenal statements. One of them is found in John 14:12
“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.”
This is a specific time when Jesus was talking with His disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be sent after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. He would be “another Comforter,” Jesus being the original Comforter or Great Shepherd of the sheep.
We read verses like the one quoted above and slide right past it often without giving it much thought. However, Jesus is speaking to His future Church leaders and is laying a foundational understanding of the Church and what it will be able to do and accomplish. So, what did Jesus mean?
Was He saying that the anointing of the Holy Spirit on us would be stronger than it was on Him? Yes! But the key is why it would be stronger.
The Spirit’s anointing on us is not stronger in quality than it was on Jesus. After all, He was sinless. And, as a result, His relationship with the Holy Spirit of God was totally unhindered. So how will the Spirit’s anointing on our lives enable us to do greater things than Jesus did?
We will do greater things, not because of the quality of the Spirit in select ones among us, but because of the quantity of the Spirit spread throughout all of us. Remember, Jesus is talking to and about His Church – the people of God. The Spirit of God does not rest on just one individual, as we observe in Jesus. No, the Spirit of God rests on every disciple of Jesus who has been born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit. And, because of this empowerment of the Spirit (see Acts 1:8) all across the community of faith, we can see greater things than anyone ever saw in the ministry of Jesus.
Let’s speak for a minute about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son, ad Holy Spirit). He was released upon the Church on the Day of Pentecost – the birthday of the Church at the very beginning. This story is told in the book of Acts, chapter two.
But, let’s step back a bit. When a person is born again the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us. We say, “would you like to receive Jesus and be born again?” We say, “Jesus now lives in your heart” after a person becomes born again. Neither of these statements is true. When we are born again it is the Holy Spirit who comes in to live within us.
Jesus appears to His disciples post-resurrection. The story is recorded in John, chapter twenty. The Word states, “…when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” This was the point in time when the original disciples were born again. Until this time Jesus had not died and so there was absolutely no way to be forgiven and born again. There had been no shedding of blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). After His death and resurrection there is now a way to be forgiven and receive eternal life. This was their born again experience.
Jesu, at a later date, says to His disciples, “I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) This promise was made through the prophet Joel (chapter 2). This would be when the Holy Spirit comes upon them on the Day of Pentecost – the birthday of the Church as we read in Acts, chapter 2. So, the Holy Spirit is “in” us when we become born again and then comes “upon” us and empowers us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. They were to wait for that second encounter with the Spirit before heading out into “all the world to make disciples.”
The purpose of this empowerment and enablement is that we can the be a witness for Him in every nation in the world. Acts 1:8a states, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses…” As we – the Church – move in this power “great and greater things will you do.”
This is the meaning of Jesus’ comment to His disciples in John 14:12 …“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.”
The Church is an amazing organism that is to take the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14) to the ends of the Earth and demonstrate that this Gospel is true by doing powerful miracle, signs, and wonders (see 1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
This is the Church that Jesus is building.