John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (ESV)
What do you suppose are the “works” that Jesus was talking about?
When I was moving in the evangelical fundamentalist circles, I would say that these “works” are morality stuff like not smoking or drinking or chasing girls or reading Playboy magazine. That sounds logical and reasonable, right? Back then I would say that Jesus lived a perfectly moral life so that His angry Father could exact a judicially mandated payment by killing Jesus in His vengeful wrath. Yeah, back then I would say that “being like Jesus” meant “doing like Jesus” which meant “being as close to the spotless lamb in moral execution” as I could be. If Jesus wasn’t a spotless lamb and fulfilled the cosmic legal requirement for a capital punishment in payment of any crime, no matter how small or insignificant, then we were all screwed and hopelessly separated from God in and eternal torture chamber of utter horror. Seemed right at the time. (It wasn’t and still isn’t right by the way…that is called religion and isn’t Jesus).
Then I moved into the Charismatic Pentecostal sect and learned something different. All that payment stuff still applied of course, but now the “works” that Jesus talked about were MIRACLES! Wow! Now, with a “get out of Hell because of a brutal death on a cross card” I could run about and “do the works.” I mean I got to (or had to in some circles) heal people and make it snow inside and watch the rain come rolling over the mountains just because I carried the authority to make it rain “in Jesus name.” I liked that a lot. I could change the world (with the power of the Holy Spirit or anointing or filling or covering or ? dang it, I get lost…)! I could “bring the Kingdom” to Earth and take away poverty and sickness and disease and illness and generally bad attitudes. Doing the works of Jesus was more like being superman than being a regular man. I still needed to live that moral life and keep from reading those Playboys but I got to be something like a savior to the world. Seemed right at the time.
What do you suppose Jesus said these “works” were? Here is an explicit reference to the works of God.
John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (ESV)
Then the crowd asked for a sign like manna from Heaven to prove that they should “believe in Jesus” and He told them this:
John 10:32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (ESV)
Can you see that Jesus is the sign and more than that, the very sustenance of this believing life? Jesus even says this in the same passage:
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (ESV)
And that “will” is the same as this will:
Matt 6:10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (ESV)
And the “Kingdom” is this same Kingdom:
Luke 17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (ESV)
And the eternal life that Jesus says we all have is this:
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (ESV)
And one more visit back to John 14 where we started:
John 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (ESV)
So what are the works?…anything that reveals Jesus and the Father are one. Wait, it is more than that because “greater are our works.” The works are anything that reveal Jesus and the Father and YOU (and me) are one. We are “believing in Jesus.” What it that? It isn’t facts or figures or even virgin births. It is the God-man mystery. It is the “I am in my Father and my Father is in me” truth. It is the union of man in and with God. Our Spirit is one with the Spirit of Christ. We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Christ is all in all and in God we move and have our being. We are His children, but even greater, you can see Him in us. We are being transformed from glory to glory so that when we look into the mirror we see Jesus looking back.
Jesus didn’t come to “change our circumstance,” He came to change us. The messiah doesn’t deliver people from their environment, He delivers people from within their environment. Jesus doesn’t remove us from the pressures of the world, He sets us free from the pressures of the world. Jesus didn’t come to change the world, He came to change the people within the world. He reveals our true nature when we “see” Him and “believe in Him.” We are believing in this union of God and man as our original created intent and design. He sets us free from our religious myths and fear of a fictional angry g.o.d. to embrace our Father in our oneness with Him. This is good news. Anything that points to that are the “works” that Jesus talks about.
So does that include miracles? Sure why not, Jesus healed people out of love and compassion. He set people free from their sins by healing their bodies. They assumed the fallacy of “sickness was from God” and Jesus sets them free from that lie by healing their bodies as the God-man. So yeah, why not some healing.
Are the “works” perfect morality? Why not? When we operate out of pure love like Jesus then we will love like Jesus and we will act out of love for others like Jesus and it will be absolutely “moral” by definition. We will be operating out of our holy, perfectly human character as a God-man like Jesus in perfect union with Love Himself. So, yeah it will be moral.
But we aren’t doing “moral” and “miracle” as an objective. We aren’t trying to be moral out of obligation to some legal paradigm. That would be religion and fake and not like Jesus. We aren’t blasting people with miracles to “prove the love of God” because we are the love of God and the “blasting” wouldn’t be love but something else.
We love because we were loved first. At the most basic part of us is love. We are a product of love. Love holds us together. We are a manifestation of divine love. We are God’s projection of love in this reality. Our most irreducible form is love itself. This is our union with the divine. This is our union with our Father. This is being Jesus. This is being the best version of you. This is what it means to “do the works of Jesus and even greater.”
So just love people. If you are trying to be moral, you aren’t loving. You are being fake and everyone will see it. If you are trying to summon a miracle for the occasion, you have missed love itself. When you are loving people, completely vulnerable and transparent and raw and real and deep and intimate and from your innermost being, you will be moral and likely miracles will happen when they need to happen. That is what it means to work the works.
Oh by the way the next verse in John (John 14:21 after the I in you and you in me stuff) is this one (I gave you an LLT to remove any old religious cobwebs):
John 14:22 The one who is defined by loving me is the one who is displaying the ultimate consummation of me; in loving me he is being loved by the Father, and I will love him as I manifest myself to him. (LLT)