Christianity 201

September 10, 2014

Greater Works than these Shall He Do

“…nearly every miracle has a human element…” ~ Mark Batterson

I thought I’d throw a little King James into today’s title.  (I thought it was “shall ye do.”) That’s the way I first heard this verse, but now, as a mature adult, I still find my mind carries the baggage of expectations that like Jesus, I would raise the dead and walk on water. Or greater, right?  Because the verse is about greater. So I appreciated reading what follows from Mark Batterson’s new book The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible (Baker Books, Sept. 2014).

Grave Robber - Mark BattersonOne of the boldest statements in the Bible is found in John 14:12:

Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing and they will do even greater things than these.

Greater things?  It would sound like heresy if it didn’t come from the lips of Jesus.  It’s one of those verses that we tend to rationalize, so let me tell you exactly what it means.   If you follow Jesus, you’ll do what He did.  You’ll seek to please the heavenly Father first and foremost.  You’ll care for the poor, you’ll wash feet, and you’ll offend some Pharisees along the way.  You’ll also traffic in the miraculous.  And it won’t just be as an eyewitness.  It’ll be as a catalyst.  Please believe me when I say, you are someone else’s miracle!

Make no mistake about it:  only God can perform miracles.  So God gets all of the glory.  But as you’ll see, nearly every miracle has a human element.  Sometimes you need to step into the Jordan River, like the priests of Israel, before God will part the waters.  And sometimes you need to wade into the Jordan seven times, like Naaman.  Only God could miraculously heal Naaman’s leprosy, but he would have forfeited the miracle if he hadn’t positioned himself for it by repeated obedience.  So while some miracles take only a single step of faith, others require multiple attempts!  But whether it’s ankle deep or waist deep, you’ve got to wade into the Jordan River.  Sometimes you’ve got to do the natural before God will do the supernatural.

The playground we live on, planet Earth, was designed with natural boundaries that mark the outer limits of human possibility.  The speed of light is the fence line, and the laws of nature are the fence posts.  some of them are well-known, like the law of gravity or Newton’s three laws of motion.  Others are more obscure, like Bell’s theorem.  While those fence posts are constantly being repositioned by scientific research, they establish a borderline between what is possible and what is impossible.  It’s the invisible, impassable fence between the natural and the supernatural, and no human can dig under it, climb over it, or walk around it.  But God has put a gate in the fence.  His name is Jesus.

If you follow Jesus long enough and far enough, you’ll eventually trespass into the impossible.  You’ll turn water into wine, feed five thousand with two fish, and walk on water.  I’m not suggesting that you go walk off the nearest dock and see ho many steps you can take.  God will probably manifest His power very differently for you than He did for the original disciples.  But if you believe what Jesus said, then you’ll do what Jesus did.  The miracles you experience should be even greater than the miracles Jesus performed, in terms of both quantity and quality.

Grave Robber, pp. 25-26