Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do…
It is a common thought and remark with us, that the child and the day labourer now use forces and truths, and do works, without esteeming it unusual, which the earlier ages of science and thought, the ages of Copernicus and Columbus, were dimly and laboriously guessing and imagining and hoping. Those early masters laid down theories and principles, and they were ridiculed if not persecuted, misrepresented if not denied, obstructed if not stopped and interdicted. Their work was immense, greater than the work of their successors. It was the massive foundation. But their successors stand on a vantage ground. Slowly those beneficent theories have won acknowledgment. They had enlarged their sphere and field and power of operation. Their activity has increased till nothing now impedes. The noble originators have mounted into universal recognition. And their children daily develop the power which they made possible; make new applications as new exigencies arise and new fields open. Their successors and disciples do the same works in one sense, for it is the continuation of the same principle in activity: or, in one sense they do a lesser work, for it is less to continue than to originate. But in another sense they do "greater works," for their activity is daily widening, daily less impeded, daily more and more encouraged by more auspicious surroundings. And yet they are not greater than the early originator, who cannot show the "greater works" which come so properly and naturally to them. They follow him. Yet they go beyond him. Nay, stranger still, they go beyond him only because they follow him, and are the disciples of and the believers in his first great underlying work. Apply this illustration to Christ and His disciples. True, His was the great spiritual, all-supporting work. The great problem was finished and enunciated at the Cross. It received its seal at the Easter. And yet the field of the Lord's activity during His own earthly life was contracted to the smallest limits. He could not go beyond Judaea. His spiritual work found no spiritual surrounding, found no spiritual response, left no spiritual fruit (John 1:5, 11; Mark 6:5). These were the judgments of His contemporaries upon Him (Matthew 13:55; Mark 3:22; John 9:29; John 7:47, 48). Stop the world after Christ's ascension, and ask it how it had been the better for Christ's living, and it would have nothing to show you. It would know of nothing done, but a few that were blind, now seeing, a few that were deaf, hearing, a few lepers cleansed, a few inanimates restored. And a single generation would have removed even these. Struggling as man in the world of men: bearing sin in the world of sin, Christ laid indeed the massive foundation of a world's redemption; but it was a work wholly wrought out in and by Himself. None other knew of it. It hardly left any outward impression upon men and their lives. And what it did leave was vague, and easily lost. But at the Ascension a change begins. He goes to the Father. He is no more a mere single labourer, working out a great work among men; sufficient to do all, and doing all by Himself; but He has mounted to the seat of His power. And the Spirit of His power goes forth to create outward impressions upon men, to carry His work to others. In the first day of Peter's preaching three thousand are converted; vastly more than Christ ever influenced; greater works than Christ's, because He has gone to the Father. His successors and followers stood on a vantage ground of work. Their great, earlier Master had mounted into universal power. He was no longer compelled simply to suffer and submit as in the garden; but was omnipresent and omnipotent by His Spirit. And daily His Spirit makes new advances possible for them, which were not possible for Him when dwelling in the flesh.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.