We Can Do What Jesus Did

by John Richardson  |  October 15, 2013

For anyone having a small identity crisis, let me help you out.  You are NOT God.  You didn’t create the heavens and the earth.  You didn’t lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  You didn’t make salvation possible. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about something that may be a little harder to swallow.  You CAN do what Jesus did.   Jesus said it this way; “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). 

You have probably heard that verse before.  But, if you are anything like me, that is one of those, “Ok…I’ll remember this, but I’m not sure how to accept it” verses.  Seriously?  Is Jesus saying that some of His works may pale in comparison to ours?  That’s crazy talk.

But, apparently, Jesus meant it.

Here’s how this verse fits into the culture of 1st century Israel.  In those days, it was common to see rabbis walking around town with their disciples.  The rabbis were the upper crust of society.  They were the elite of the academic world.  They were the leading Harvard graduates before Harvard existed.  And little Jewish boys dreamed of being rabbis when they grew up (this was in the days before astronauts).

Very few boys made it to the point of being a disciple.  Most of them dropped out of school along the way and went home to learn a trade from their father.  But, those who made it to the top of the academic world would eventually petition a rabbi…asking if he could shadow his every movement for the next few years.  At this request, the rabbi would put the student through a series of tests.  At the end of the tests, the rabbi would make a determination on whether or not this boy could be his disciple.  And the litmus question for the rabbi was this – “Can this student do what I do?  Can he, over time, become like me?”

If the student was deemed worthy, the rabbi would call to him, “Come, follow me.”

Here’s the amazing part.  Rabbi Jesus didn’t wait for students to come to Him.  He sought out some who had previously dropped out of school…who had been passed over by society…and He called to them, “Come, follow me.”  To the fishermen, the tax collectors and other everyday, “uneducated men,” Jesus said, “I want you to follow me because I believe that you can do what I do.  You can be like me.”

Then, He told those disciples to come find us – people who would be disciples.  In other words, when Jesus calls us to be disciples, He says to us, “I believe you can do what I do.  You can be like me.”  In fact, as we saw in John 14:12, Jesus went beyond the norm and said that we would not only do the same things He did, but we would do even greater things than He did.

That’s why Peter asked to walk on the water.  Remember that story?  The disciples were scared to death.  They thought Jesus was a ghost until He identified Himself.  And then Peter made a strange request.  He said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

The reason I think Peter made that request is because He knew the terms of discipleship.  He knew that disciples could be like their rabbi.  And so, Peter made a ridiculous request to prove the identity of Jesus and to validate the terms of discipleship.

In practical terms, what does that mean for us?  I don’t know that I’ve been able to wrap my mind completely around this idea yet, but here’s what I do know.  Jesus, our Rabbi, is radically generous.  He gave sight to the blind.  He gave a personal touch to lepers who had not been touched in years.  He gave freedom from the evil one.  He gave Peter money to pay his temple tax (Matthew 17:27) and eventually He exchanged our place in death for His share of the eternal inheritance.

That’s radical generosity.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

We can live generously.  All of us…every disciple of Jesus.  The only question is, “Will we?”

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Thank you for sharing about the cultural norm of the 1st century, because it sheds light on why Jesus said "come, follow me," The verse about doing the works Jesus did and even greater is one of the surprise. But I like how you connected it to being the disciple of Jesus.

Ekaterina Green
November 24, 2013 - 03:16:45 PM
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