The Holy Spirit will comfort you.
In Jesus’ final conversation with the disciples He explains the Holy Spirit will comfort them by enabling them to do greater works through His presence.
Hopefully everyone in here wants their kids do better, go farther, and accomplish more than they have. Hopefully you want to live in a way that you set your kids up for success and so that your ceiling is their floor, that they can stand on your shoulders and achieve heights that were beyond your reach…An unhealthy parent is threatened by this, an insecure person is threatened by the success of others. They care less about the achievements of others and more about their perceived level in relationship with others.
Sadly, even in church ministry there can be times that church leaders downplay the effectiveness of other churches because they’re insecure about the work they are doing. I hope another church in Chandler outgrows us, that would mean that more people are being reached with the message of Jesus!
My kids are young so they haven’t decided that they know everything yet, so they ask questions all the time. Nicole and I will talk after they’ve gone to bed about questions they asked that day. Sometimes it’s funny and at other times it’s just bizarre. Like where did that come from? It’s easy to get frustrated with the constant questions, however they are learning opportunities.
We learn from the disciples questions.
Last week we saw that Jesus is the way and that powerful statement was in response to Thomas’ question.
This week we have a powerful truth that comes in response to Philip’s question or request. When Philip asks this question, Jesus is a little disappointed that Philip still isn’t getting it… What Philip wasn’t getting is that Jesus and the Father are one, so Philip had just spent 3 years seeing the works of the Father. That’s important to understand the statement Jesus makes in verse 12.
In Jesus’ parting conversation with the disciples, He says something really incredible. It’s absolutely amazing when you consider Jesus is the one saying this… I have been pondering this verse all week because it’s just so amazing.
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Jesus claims we will do greater works than He has done.
Jesus, who has done the incredible works of healing the sick, feeding thousands of hungry people with just a small lunch, and raising Lazarus from the dead, he says, I know that you will do greater things than what I have done. It would be one thing if an ordinary but successful man said he knew his son or his successor would do far better things than he had ever done, but for Jesus say this?
Not only this, Jesus doesn’t just limit this to the disciples. He doesn’t limit to these men in the room who would start the church and perform miracles themselves. He says, WHOEVER believes on me shall do greater works… That’s us! If you believe in Jesus, He says you will do greater works than He has done… Now, we need to keep this in context. So let’s read what led up to this statement.
Jesus has spent His life showing us the Father.
His acts, His words, and His life have all been representations of the Father. That’s what verses 10 and 11 say, explicitly. In verse 12, Jesus then connects that idea to us. Just as Jesus has been showing the works of the Father, we will show the works of Jesus. We will do the works of Jesus and because Jesus goes to the Father, don’t miss that explanation, because I go to the Father these works will be greater.
Because Jesus has gone to the Father we are able to do greater works. Last week we learned that Jesus was going to make the way and we were staying back to show the way. This is the greater work. This doesn’t mean that you and I will do miracles, it doesn’t mean that you and I will raise the dead, it means that what we do is far more important than that…
Showing the way of eternal life is far greater in importance than meeting the needs of this life.
Now this matters, it’s so very important that we get this squared away in our minds, because Jesus is about to tell us the HOW of these important works is in the Holy Spirit, but if we think the greater works are the miraculous and signs, we will seriously misunderstand the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is for much more than physical needs and impressive signs- if that’s all we go to the Holy Spirit about it’s like making Superman the dog catcher- he could do it. He’d be great at it, but there’s more important work for him to do.
Superman would be awesome at getting cats down from trees and finding lost dogs, but if superman is among us, there’s more important work for Him to do… If we made superman the dog catcher, it would show that we either don’t understand his capabilities or we don’t understand out greatest needs…
When we make the Holy Spirit the magician of Christianity, we demonstrate that we do not understand His capability or we misunderstand our greatest need.
Remember, Jesus made this statement right after saying to Philip I’ve spent the past 3 years showing you the Father through the works I have done. The greatest need we have is not to alleviate the physical suffering and brokenness, but rather that we might break the bondage of sin! It would be a true tragedy if this life was one of comfort and ease because the Holy Spirit made everything amazing, yet in the next life we faced judgment and spent eternity separated from God.
The greatest work, the greater work is showing the world who Jesus is.
The powerful work of the Holy Spirit in healing sickness, averting death, and alleviating suffering is good, but the work of the Spirit through us showing the truth of the gospel is great! Backing up this connection to the greater work of the Spirit in the lifting up of Jesus is what comes after it in verse 13-14:
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Now, there are other places in scripture where Jesus makes really strong promises about prayer. All of those verse have explicit conditions:
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
1 John 5:14–15,
“If we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
Mark 11:24, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Jesus will answer any prayer that supplies the greater works.
The explicit conditions are in the context. Jesus is not saying, ask whatever you want and you’ll get it. Many people were praying that they’d win the Nut Club Half Pot this week and they didn’t, why? That’s not part of the greater works that God has called us to…
God doesn’t answer your prayers for stuff and money and other selfish desires because that will not aid in the greater works, rather they’ll be a detriment.
That’s the setting. Jesus says you will do greater works in showing the world who I am and if you need anything in that work, just ask. It’s like someone is working on your house and you say, if you guys need anything just let me know. You’re saying if there’s anything you need while you’re doing this work, let me know. You’re not offering to give them your car or your debit card. So, let’s sit with this for a second…
Jesus has said that because He’s going to the Father, we will be able to do greater works than He has done… He’s also said that whatever we need in this work, He’ll provide if we ask…
There is nothing that we can do that has greater meaning than this work…
This work is hard. It’s so hard.
We simply can not accomplish this work on our own. So Jesus lets us know that we won’t be alone. Jesus not only tells the disciples this work is important, He tells them HOW it will be accomplished through them. It will be accomplished through the work of the Spirit.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
The Holy Spirit is a comforter.
The King James Version uses the word Comforter, and this is right if we do not merely think of someone who gives out hugs at a funeral, because the comforting of the Holy Spirit is much more than someone who solaces us in difficulty. He is more like a trusted advisor who brings comfort to a general with His wise counsel and instruction.
The Holy Spirit is an advocate.
Elsewhere the word Advocate is used. In other words one who speaks for us. The word Counselor is used, but not in the sense of a therapist but in the sense of legal counsel, who gives us instruction in how we will approach the courts. This idea is confirmed in Jesus reference to the Spirit as the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit is not merely one stands with us and says, I’m so sorry. That must be tough, He knows the words we need. He knows the truth that must be told.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The Holy Spirit is not just utilitarian though, He’s not just here to get a job done. He’s here to be with us. He’s here to facilitate and strengthen our connection to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is WITH us.
Jesus actually starts off this section about the Spirit by saying that there will be a special connection. One that the world will not have.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Loving Jesus brings about a special experience of the love of the father. Just as responding the love someone shows you brings you into relationship and in that relationship you experience more of their love.
God loves the world. There’s a greater experience of that love in responding to Him.
There is a special experience of His love for those who love Him in return. It’s not we earn His love, but rather as we love Him and draw closer to Him. We experience more and more of His love. Jesus is telling the disciples that not only will they do greater things, they will experience more and more love as well. It’s not that their time of training is done and now they are to suit up and ship out like good soldiers, He goes with them. Jesus remains with them. He abides with them.
He goes to make a way and we remain to show the way, but in the way, we walk with Him.
On July 11 in 2017 two elementary school aged boys were swimming at Panama Beach. Suddenly, when they realized they couldn’t get back to shore. They were caught in a current. Their mother swam out to them, but she was caught. Two adult swam out on body boards, but they were also stuck. Seeing what was happening, a young couple in their 20s yelled for everyone to come form a chain. Over 40 adults formed a human chain to reach the swimmers now stuck in the current. With a chain back to the security of the beach, they were able to pull them back.
When we walk with Jesus, we remain connected through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the only reason we are able to reach out and help someone else. Without the connection we’d be lost in the current like everyone we are trying to save.
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