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It is a provocative, challenging thought. Listening to Jesus’ words to his followers as they gather in the upper room before his death, Jesus speaks about what he anticipates for his disciples:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12)

I’ve been thinking (and posting) about this “Truly, truly” statement, and the other times Jesus uses this expression in that exchange with his friends. Jesus really does expect his followers to do works similar to what he himself had been doing. Really.

Most Christians understand that Jesus expects his followers to celebrate the “Lord’s Supper.” The Gospels report that Jesus instituted this memorial on the evening before he was betrayed (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26). There is, perhaps, a passing reference to communion (another name for the Lord’s Supper) in Acts (2:42-47, where the “breaking of bread” might be a reference). There is just one time in the epistles where we find an explicit mention of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

So, this ongoing practice is anchored in Jesus’ explicit command (found in the Gospels only in the establishment of the memorial), referenced one time in Acts, and specifically addressed one time in the whole of the of the New Testament. But Christians everywhere are convinced (rightly so!) that the Lord’s Supper is supposed to be part of every contemporary Christians’ ongoing experience. The Biblical support is not extensive, but more than sufficient. We should take Jesus at his word and participate regularly in the Lord’s Supper.

So then I start thinking . . .

Jesus repeatedly, in the Gospels, instructs his followers to do the things that he was doing. That is the point of John 14:12–doing the works that he also did. He told the twelve to participate in his kind of ministry (Mark 6:7-13). He instructed seventy others to do similar things (Luke 10:1-17). He commanded his followers to teach others to do all that he instructed them to do (Matthew 28:18-20).

When we turn to the  book of Acts we find multiple references. As widely understood, the original twelve (the apostles), continued to do things similar to what Jesus had been doing (as mentioned in Acts  4:30-33; 5:12, 14-16, and elsewhere). But then we find others, like Stephen and Philip, doing the same kinds of things (Acts  6:8; 8:3-8).

When we turn to the epistles, what we find is staggering. The kinds of things that Jesus did are mentioned as being part of the life of the church in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12-14), to the Galatians (3:5), and to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:19-23). We find other mentions of such things in James’ writings (James 5:13-16) as well as the letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 2:4).

Why is it that we can seemingly do without something that Jesus commanded of his followers, that we see pictured in the life of the church in Acts, and that is repeatedly mentioned in the Epistles as fitting for followers of Jesus? Jesus’ followers don’t live as if they can ignore his call to celebrate communion. So . . .

Jesus intended his followers to do works similar to his own. He gave those instructions. We see it lived out in Acts. We find instructions about that kind of life in the letters. We just don’t seem to be very open to the idea in our lives.

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2 Comments

  1. “WHY do we not do those things Jesus said for us to do ?” ………………In my opinion, because of a basic unbelief in what Jesus said, and years of systematic wrong teaching that only taught us to get saved and then behave well on your way to heaven…. Jesus was, and still should be, our model. I believe that Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” For those who do believe that we should be doing “those things”, and your pastor / church doesn’t teach or model “those things”, you probably won’t be very open to being the “Lone Ranger” in your church.. But there “are” churches and people who really do model Jesus ministry if anyone is interested. I would suggest finding and hanging out with them with an open mind. You just might see what Jesus really had in mind……….

  2. Jesus seems to heal and deliver people in a variety of kind and personal ways. Please help me to grasp the hearing and the seeing what the Father is doing – and how He wants to do it – for His glory. Can you share thoughts on “abiding”?


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