Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “This is how the work is greater.”
As we now move into the first weekend of social distancing and the resulting canceled activities that come with it, and as our thoughts turn towards the worship services we would normally be attending on Sunday, I want to take us a little deeper theologically into the theme of “Life on this side of the cross”.
In recent devotionals in this series, I’ve been urging all of us to consider how we can use the troubling circumstances being caused by this COVID 19 pandemic as an opportunity to shine for Jesus and to bless others in His name. I’ve made the point that the Holy Spirit will empower us to do that. Let’s go a little deeper with that by considering what it means, how it happens, and what it looks like for the Holy Spirit to engage us in this “greater” work.
In John 14:12 Jesus made what appears to be a strange and even impossible declaration. He said that once He returns to heaven, those who believe in Him would stay behind and accomplish even greater things than He did when He was here on earth. How could that be? How can we possibly do anything that would be greater than what Jesus did?
First, Jesus was referring to the totality of His work. He was saying that once it was all finished and He had died on the cross, risen from the grave, ascended back into heaven, and the Holy Spirit was given in His place, then something even greater would begin to occur.
Second, by “greater” Jesus did not mean greater in terms of power and performing miracles. He meant greater in extent. He meant that after His part in God’s plan was accomplished in its totality, what He had begun in the land of Israel among the Jews would then begin to spread and would eventually encompass the entire world. This is what He was referring to when, in the moments prior to His ascension He told them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
What Jesus accomplished during His time here on earth was incredible and miraculous – it was truly “great”. But His immediate impact was still limited to that area and to those people. However, Jesus came for all the people of the world. The Good News of the Gospel needed to spread everywhere and be heard by everyone. That part of the plan was to be carried out by His followers after He was gone. And that of course, includes you and me in our day. The “greater” work is the ever-expanding and growing nature of the kingdom of God as more and more people learn about the love of God, have their sins forgiven, and receive the promise of eternity in heaven.
However, as helpful as that explanation may be, it is still incomplete. There’s more we need to consider in order to fully understand what is happening in the world now as a direct result of your participation in that “greater” work. We will continue our discussion of this tomorrow in a special “Sunday edition” daily devotional.
(Also, make sure you listen to Sunday’s sermon. We will be continuing our study of the Gospel of Matthew and we will be in chapter nine. Just go to www.oakhillbaptist.net, click on “listen” and select the sermon for March 22, 2020.