After some time in prayer this evening after returning from seeing my good friend Johnny Ryland (this is the way we affectionately refer to our main library – he seems to only be much of a friend to many of us around exam time!!) Anyway I was asking the Lord to really help me grasp the Bible, to see more and more and indeed I read this passage much later on tonight and grasped so much more from one chapter of Scripture than I have in a long time.
I’m going through the gospel of John at the minute and tonight I read John chapter 14.
The gospel of John is the last canonical gospel written, scholars place it around 90 AD. It was written by possibly the youngest disciple of Jesus and the only one not to be killed for his faith, John, who was nicknamed by Jesus as a ‘Son of Thunder’ along with his brother James. (This may have something to do with their personality – well I mean they did once ask Jesus to basically blow up a town because the people there would not believe in Him – to which Jesus basically told them to calm down – it goes to show Jesus doesn’t call perfect people [indeed there are none] but he does call people and trains them and saves them to be more like him – John was probably like 80 years old when he wrote this – I’m sure he wasn’t asking God to blow up more towns like in his younger days!)
‘Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
“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. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.’
Three things can be picked out of this next statement by Jesus
The followers of Christ are enabled by him to do the works he did. Now it is taken as consensus by many theologians that the ‘greater’ here does not simply refer to a greater quality of works, but rather that the amount and scope of our works will be greater. We can see this surely by the mushrooming nature of the expansion of the Church during the first three centuries AD, where it pervaded every corner of the Roman Empire, and even in our day where, as an example the church in China seems to be growing at a phenomenal rate.
These works are done by God, for God, through us. Let us not get caught up in thinking that the operation of these works has anything to do with our ability or prowess. We see straight away Jesus says ‘whatever you ASK in my name’. It would appear that we are to ASK for the grace of God to be poured out upon us to complete these works. It is all God, let us never take glory for ourselves, for it is not ours to claim.
The final thing I see here is something often overlooked. We see Jesus here saying to ask for the grace to be able to do these things and it will be given. It can be easy to take the Lord’s words here out of context and understand them to tell us that ‘oh well anything I want I just have to ask in Jesus name and its done! Wipee, blank cheque’.
That is not what he is saying here, there is a caveat, a condition. Yes he will do whatever we ask, but this is where we ask for the grace to be able to do works ‘that the Father may be glorified in the Son’
Oftentimes a promise is given in the Bible and people try to explain away why it doesn’t seem to always apply, and many times the explanation of the condition given, I never see it, but I do here! I see a clear condition here, yes he will give us what we ask of him, but it is when we ask to do God honouring works that will glorify the Father IN the son, that is why we ask IN the name of Jesus (c.f. verse. 14).
vs. 21 – 24
‘Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “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. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.’
An interesting description painted here by our Lord.
He marks those who are his followers and those who are not, and it is made clearer by the question the disciple asked.
He and the Father will reveal themselves more and more to those who keep his commandments (they keep his commandments because they love him – ever heard the phrases – ‘talk is cheap’ or ‘show me you love me’).
Why is that you will reveal yourself to us and not to others? It is because they are in him, they love him, they follow him and then naturally they obey him. Just as a side bar, suffice it to say that Christians do not obey God out of their own strength, no man is able to, but only by the help of the Holy Spirit which He has given us, He makes us able!
‘…the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me’
I love this line! It evokes an image of the Lord standing tall and bold as the King of Kings he is and firmly declaring that not even Satan the old enemy, the old dragon has anything to do with him – “can’t touch this na, na, na, na!!”
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Be blessed, keep reading the Word of God and keep praying!