In John 14:12 Jesus said that those who believe in Him would do “greater works” than what He was doing. Did Jesus mean that Christians are supposed to be doing even greater miracles and wonders than He did?
Jesus performed many wonderful miracles and works of power. A quick survey of some of His miracles will show us how wonderful His miracles really were. On one occasion, He fed four thousand with just seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. On another occasion, He fed five thousand with five loaves and two small fish.
Our Lord’s miracles demonstrated His power and authority over life and death, over the natural world, and over practically every aspect of creation. He raised the dead, stilled storms, drove out demons, and healed sick bodies. It is hard to believe that there are any miracles “greater” than these.
Did Jesus tell an untruth when He said that those who believe in Him would do “greater works”?
Certainly not. The answer to this seeming puzzle is found in John 14:12, which reads: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Jesus said it’s because He goes to the Father, referring to His ascension.
Prior to our Lord’s ascension into Heaven, the Holy Spirit was given from time to time to certain individuals for a certain work. Following the ascension, however, the Holy Spirit was given as a universal donation to the entire church.
During His earthly ministry, our Lord’s work on earth was confined to the region of Israel. But following His ascension, our Lord’s apostles would go everywhere proclaiming the Gospel to large multitudes of people. Thousands were converted. Peter’s message on Pentecost, which followed the ascension of Christ, brought more followers to Jesus than did our Lord’s entire earthly ministry. The disciples were able to see such amazing results because Jesus went to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to empower them.
So, the disciples did greater works in EXTENT, and greater works in EFFECT, but I don’t believe that they did greater works in kind.
For the last two thousand years the Gospel has been preached all over the world. Great multitudes have been saved by the blessed grace of God. Lives have been transformed all over the world—from the United States and Europe, to the darkest reaches of the planet. Once Jesus said, “it is finished,” the door was opened for the Holy Spirit to save and sanctify multiplied millions.