Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Questions About Biblical Miracles (Part 3): When Jesus said believers will do the works He did, and even greater works (John 14:12), would this not indicate miracle-working today?

Any interpretation of a scripture which involves an absurdity or an impossibility must be false. Among the many other miraculous works Jesus performed, He turned water into wine (John 4:46), fed multitudes with little food (Matt. 14:15-21), calmed storms (Matt. 8:26), walked on water (John 6:19), restored maimed and severed body parts (Mark 3:1-5; Luke 22:50-51), and raised the dead (John 12:1). No one on earth today (despite a number of exaggerated claims) can genuinely reproduce these amazing miraculous feats, much less even greater ones! To understand what Jesus meant by His statement in John 14:12, should we not first consider the context?

The Lord was with His apostles when He instituted the Lord’s supper (Luke 22:14 ff.) and therefore was speaking directly to the apostles in chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16 of John’s Gospel. The statement in John 14:12 was directed to the apostle Philip, who apparently, like the others, was struggling at the time with his beliefs (vv. 8-12). The apostles did go on to do similar miraculous works to what Jesus had done (Acts 2:43; 5:12; etc.), but there is no record of them performing greater miracles than He did. What, then, were the “greater works” of which the Lord spoke? 

The second occurrence of the term “works” in John 14:12 was not in the original text but was supplied by the English translators. Jesus actually said to the apostles, “greater [things] than these he will do.” To what would this have reference? For one thing, the ministry of Jesus was limited primarily to Judea and Galilee, but the ministry of the apostles was to extend throughout the world (Acts 1:8). Jesus did not publicly proclaim His death, burial and resurrection, but the apostles did (Acts 2:14-24). During His earthly ministry the Lord brought no one into His spiritual kingdom, but the apostles did (Matt. 16:18-19; Mark 9:1). Christ baptized no one into His death, burial and resurrection or in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but the apostles did (Matt. 28:19; Rom. 6:3-5). In a general sense we can also do these “greater [things],” but there is no one living on earth today who can do the same (much less greater) miracles than those performed by our Lord.

-- Kevin L. Moore

*Originally appearing in The Exhorter (April-June 1998).

Addendum“Jesus performed miracles but didn’t advertise them. We advertise them but don’t perform them” (Vance Havner).

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