Sermon – Greater Works
May 14, 2017
Let us Pray
Dear Lord – Let these humble human crafted words
be saturated by the Holy Spirit
so that we may believe in Jesus
so that we may truly trust in His teaching
so that we might feel the freedom of His presence
Let these words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
How do we know if we truly believe in Jesus?
This is an intensely difficult question,
there might be none of greater importance.
Today’s Gospel message,
gives us a simple formula that can help us answer this question.
However the answer will bring us to face why it matters so dearly,
And then it will demand of us,
what are we going to do about it?
This Gospel can be both confounding,
And amazingly powerful,
all of this occurs in the final three verses of John Chapter 14.
Let us listen again, with these three points in mind:
“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes
in me will also do the works that I do”, do we believe
and, in fact, “will do greater works than these,
because I am going to the Father.
I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Why it matters!
“If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
What are we going to do with this promise?
Let us simply begin with this message from Jesus of Nazareth,
recalling the context is His earthly ministry
And that His message is for everyone,
to all who might believe,
not for the elite alone,
not for the first disciples alone
not just for future priests and deacons.
Jesus is calling out to all who might believe in him.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us how
to know if we believe in him,
and also how we will live out of our belief,
“Very truly, I tell you,
the one who believes in me
will also do the works that I do”
He is also teaching us,
that if we don’t do these works,
we don’t truly believe in him.
This is why it matters so dearly,
if we do not try to do the works of love he did:
do we truly believe in Him?
I think of my life before I gave Jesus the time of day,
that world held many shiny things and intriguing places.
Many of my hopes were filled with self-glory and pride,
but I missed a lot of truly human hope.
I recall the dark face of a youth group member,
I knew his family was broken,
We knew substance abuse surrounded him,
One day I might have felt sorry for him and moved along.
But in the day I knew him,
I was working in a church youth group.
my hope was to do works of love,
I felt sorry at his loneliness,
he was unloved and unaccepted.
We found a place in a youth group play for him,
his part in the play was that of an angel, named Gabriel.
A few of the more popular kids in the group played angels as well.
As he became accepted by his peers,
his face took on a new light,
we watched the darkness leave.
For our team he was truly Gabriel the messenger Angel of God
that showed us love at work,
as the darkness in our Gabriel disappeared,
the shiny things of this world became more dull.
Jesus’s hand was at work.
As my belief in Jesus grew, it changed the way I saw the world,
much in the way the lens in my glasses change my ability to see.
Living in Jesus can correct flawed vision,
it can bring brighter clarity to the darknesses we face,
it can help screen out shiny false promises of this world,
it can help us to see the better world,
the one where Jesus’s works of love are abundant.
CS Lewis spoke of belief and vision beautifully,
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen
not only because I see it
but because by it I see everything else.”
Believing in Jesus simply asks that we see the world,
see it as he did,
through a lens of love,
and that in our heart,
we try to seek a path to that better world,
and then that we try …. each as we are able
to make our world be that better place.
It is only ours to try as we can and to seek,
we know this, from the Psalmist,
“The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who
understand, any who seek God”.
And from the Letter to the Hebrews,
“And without faith it is impossible to please God.
For whoever would approach Him
must believe that he exists
and that He rewards those who seek him.”
So let us trust that we believe in Jesus,
simply because we seek him
and because we seek his world of love.
However, The Gospel message continues,
more challenging and more startling.
After saying “the one who believes will do the works that I do”
Jesus says, “And in fact greater works than these.”
What works could be greater,
than feeding thousands,
resurrecting the dead,
casting out demons,
and walking on water?
If I were to say that you or I would do greater works than Jesus
it would be a blasphemy.
But this is what Jesus said.
This is where the Gospel can become confounding.
We need to recognize that we have a world-changing message here,
in just these three final verses of today’s gospel.
First, Jesus said if we believe in Him we will do the works he did,
Second, that we will do works greater than His,
And finally that anything we ask for in His name he will do it.
Then Jesus finally unlocks it all, when he says
“I am going to the father”.
This is the power flowing through the Cross-,
This is how we are empowered to do Greater Works.
However, this gift of Easter
is both our empowerment and our Call to do Greater works.
Jesus is saying
“you will do greater works than these,
because I am going to the Father.”
Never before had humanity had the power of the resurrection,
To do greater works on earth.
Saint Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians,
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Today there are over two billion Christians in the world,
this is the earthly evidence of the power of the cross to do greater works.
Although our church is struggling,
I believe this is just the beginning,
that our church can be reawakened,
that the love and power of our God
is bigger than any challenge ahead of us.
Because we believe!
This was the easy part of the Gospel,
Next, Jesus says,
“I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
Now we have the promise of the power of God,
I think of this as this as the great empowerment,
We are being empowered to achieve all the greater works
and Jesus will be with us, bringing anything we need.
Why does it matter so critically that we do something about this?
Let me go back to verse 13, Jesus tells us
“so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
It is this glorification of God in the son,
that brings His love into this world,
It is that love that can set people free,
free from fear,
free from hate,
free from injustice,
free from discrimination,
free from a future doomed by disbelief.
This is the heart and the call of today’s Gospel message,
that we believe in Jesus,
that we do his works,
all for the glorification of God,
all of this is in service to the future of God’s people.
This is the ‘what are we going to do about it’ part!
It brings us to the question,
what is our part in rekindling this Jesus Movement?
This can only be found in each of our own hearts, in our own beliefs.
We each have our own gifts to bring to the Glory of God,
we can spread the Gospel message,
we can evangelize by our works,
we can love as Jesus did.
We do all of this so that many distant people far in the future,
will know the Glory of God.
This will be so, because many will have heard the good news,
just as a small group of believers
at a distant and then ancient community in America had,
the Many came to believe that the greater works of God still lie ahead.
Edward C Andercheck