Greater works than Jesus's

In John 14 Jesus tells his disciples "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do 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. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it." This is the gospel section of today's lectionary reading.

As someone who was part of the Vineyard movement for years and still have affection for it and it's founder, John Wimber, I had long read the "greater works" as greater than the miraculous stuff Jesus did. But now, as I am certainly pre-disposed to look for the love of God on every page, I wonder if Jesus is referring to greater acts of mercy than what he could do as a single human.

Paul refers to the church with a metaphor of Christ's body. Although Christ is physically departed, the church remains in his stead, to perform greater works of love. Obviously, miracles are not commonplace, or they would not be miraculous. So the Christian church is not known as a regular source of miraculous healings. But it is known as the source of local hospitals and leper sanitariums and front line disease fighters. These are examples of mercy and compassion much greater, 3 years vs. 2000 years, than what Jesus did. The church was able to bring the life or death gladiator battles entertainment to an end. Even slavery was brought to an end by certain parts of Christ's body.

These are great works of the body of Christ. They are not negated by all the inhumane things the church also did in the name of God. I am ashamed of the church for those works, not done in love. I'm also glad I can be part of the greater works of Christ today even though I am not personally or supernaturally raising the dead or multiplying loaves and fishes. But I am part of a body that brings food to liberated areas of Mosul, or the outskirts of Aleppo, that rebuilds homes destroyed in Haiti by natural disasters, that heals poor children with cleft palates, that provides obstetric care to women in slums, etc. Most of these outreaches are solely supported by voluntary donations from the body which really is miraculous, comparable to the multiplication of Jesus' loaves and fishes.

I was looking for the exceptional works instead of the greater works of love and mercy. I'm glad I see them now.


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