A Farewell Legacy – John 14:12-14

How would you feel if your best friend in town told you that they were going away tomorrow? How would you feel?

Yesterday I finished moving from the apartment where I lived to a new one. You know, getting ready to get married and stuff. Now it’s always exciting to move on to new adventures so to speak. But in the same time, it’s never easy to say goodbye. Some of my neighbors, I might just never see them again. And it’s not like it made me want to cry, but when you live around people you just get attached to them. They start growing on you. You get used to them. They kind of become part of who you are. And then you leave and there is vacuum in there.

When I was at the college I used to hang out with the international crew. Now all my best friends are all over the world. Some of them I will see again, some of them I will never see again. And sometimes when you get at the end of that semester and you have to say goodbye, it’s just hard. Some of those people you just get so close to. And then you scatter and it’s almost as a part of life had to start all over again.

Even being engaged, I would say that hardest thing is to say goodbye. It’s just hard. You know, you start filling your heart with all those joyful and happy feelings and then comes the end of the day and you have to say goodbye and it feels so unnatural and it’s as if your heart is being ripped in pieces.

But what if an angel came out of nowhere and told me: “Well, Philippe, you have met the woman you like, but now it’s time to say goodbye. So go your way, and she’ll go her way, and then when both of you die then you can get married.”

Now, without focusing on the heretical aspect of this message, just the idea in itself would just seem weird. That just wouldn’t make sense. Why would something that brings so much joy be taken away? I would tell the angel: you’re crazy I don’t like you! I’m getting ready for a wedding, not for a goodbye!

Now let’s travel back into biblical times. Let’s travel back to the times when Jesus was walking on earth, teaching the Word of God and performing signs of wonders. Let’s travel back to the times when Jesus was with His disciples: investing in them, shaping them, loving them and living life with them. Actually, let’s travel back to Jesus’ last night. To His last words. To the time when He had to tell His closest friends that the groom had to leave; to tell those disciples that were getting ready for the wedding and the coming of God’s kingdom on earth, that they had to wait. Now, place yourself in the sandals of the disciples, as we read from the Gospel of John.

Read John 14:1-21

Jesus said He would leave, but Jesus also promised that He would not leave like normal people leave. He was going to leave, but only because it was the best thing to do. Jesus had even greater plans. But to know these plans, His disciples would have to follow His directions.

This morning we are going to focus on 3 verses from this passage, verses 12-14. In these verses we are going to look at 3 instructions that Jesus gives his disciples, so that we, like them, would have hope as we await to be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I. BELIEVE

Joh 14:12  « 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.

Joh 14:13  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Joh 14:14  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

And here is the first instruction: Believe! This directive, Jesus gives it again and again throughout the book of John. Even here in this passage, we read in verse 1: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” and again in verse 11: Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” In verse 15, Jesus tells His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” But guess what commandment He is talking about? He’s been talking about believing the whole time.

In the book of John, the verb “to believe” appears close to 100 times. That’s even what John wrote when he stated the purpose of His book in John 20:31: but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John’s purpose was that we would believe, and that we would believe fully. John had in mind that His readers would embrace the faith that gives life in the name of Christ. And not just life away from hell, but life abundant, life abiding in Christ, life full of joy and hope. Jesus’ gospel was not given so that people could simply get their souls into heaven. He wanted to bring heaven into their souls.

That faith that Jesus taught was indeed quite something. Here we are on verse 12, and Jesus insists on that faith. “Truly, truly, I say to you.” Even though Jesus has been talking about faith and believing, He still stops here to insist again on the subject. “Really, guys. Really. That’s the truth. Don’t just zone out. Listen to me. I’m speaking to you. This is very important. Let me summarize to you again my main point.”

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.”

Now listen carefully, because Jesus is talking to you. It’s not only to His disciples. “Whoever believes” in Greek means… “whoever believes!” Jesus is giving a definition of what faith does, and He is giving it for all of us to apply.

And that faith concerns His person. His command is to believe in Him.

It’s kind of interesting that this passage makes me think a lot about another story from the Old Testament. That story is found in Exodus 33-34, where God tells Moses that He is about the leave. Israel just made a golden calf, and God basically tells Moses “If I stay here, I will consume all of you. I’m no longer going with you. I will send you an angel, and he will lead you to the promised land.”

And we all remember Moses’ response: “No way! If you’re not going, I’m not going! Show me your glory!”

And God to answer: “Euh…no. Actually, I will show you my back. But my face, no way. Not now. Lest you die!”

Now it is interesting to read Philip’s reaction to Jesus’ departure in a way very similar to that of Moses. We read in verse 8, “Lord, show us the Father! And it is enough”

And Jesus to answer: “What are you talking about, dummy, I am here!”

Moses, in the cloud, saw nothing compared to what the disciples saw. It’s not that Jesus is greater than God. On the contrary, Jesus says plainly in verse 28 that the Father is greater than Him. The difference was that God had not revealed Himself in the same depth, and as a result He did not expect the same response from His people.

Yes, the Israelites got to see the plagues, but the disciples got to see people being raised from the dead. The Israelites saw the sacrifices of the priests, the disciples got to see Christ crucified for their sake. The Israelites had the manna, the disciples had the bread from heaven. The Israelites had the Law, the disciples got the Sermon on the Mount. The Israelites were forbidden to go near the holy mountain, lest they would die – the disciples could touch Jesus Himself, talk with Him, ask question, hear Him speak every day.

Whatever that sight of glory that you can imagine from the Old Testament, of the heavy presence of God, of the Shekinah beaming light, of the mighty deliverance from Egypt, of the Torah and the TabernacleJesus is greater than all of these.

But listen carefully because here it becomes even better.  All those glorious things that God had done in the Old Testament paled in the light of the coming of the 2nd person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. And here we are, and Jesus is about to leave, and He is about to reveal more plainly the 3rd person of the Trinity. And guess what, it becomes even better. Because more revelation brings more glory. And when the Spirit comes, He will come with power and with purpose. He will be a Spirit of holiness and of conviction, who will pierce hearts with the powerful Gospel of Jesus-Christ.

Joh 14:12  « 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.

What do you think Jesus meant by greater?

Well, we do know that it’s not a question of doing miracles that are more spectacular. I mean, I haven’t heard many people raising the dead since the days of Christ. By “greater,” did Jesus mean that we would do more works? Well, that’s not really how the word is used in the Gospel of John either, “greater” is usually used in reference to quality rather than quantity, for instance it is used to describe Jesus as greater than Jacob, then later than John the Baptist, then later than Abraham.

There have been many debates on what those “greater works” truly are. But this is what we must focus on: the greater works exist because Jesus is going to the Father. From the Old Testament to Jesus coming on earth, the glory is greater. But even on earth, Jesus was walking like a man and being limited like a man. Now, not only Jesus has been revealed, but He is in heaven with God, with no physical limitation. And now with the full revelation of the 3rd Person of the Trinity comes an even greater covenant, made possible because of Christ’s death and resurrection, the new covenant made possible because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The answer to our question is not very far. We just need to keep on reading the accounts following Christ’s departure.  It’s just a few chapters later, in the next book, the book of Acts.

Act 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. »

Act 2:41  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Act 2:46  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,

Act 2:47  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

When Jesus left, His followers were few. But after He gave His Holy Spirit, a work of conversions and salvation began throughout the world in ways that had no precedent in history of the world.

Greater works come with the greater covenant. And the Greater Covenant comes because of the Gospel. MacArthur defines the “greater works” as “the spiritual miracle of salvation” And this is the greater age we live in. We have the privilege to see drastic conversions of people turning away from their sins to embrace the living and true God. This is God’s greater work that He has in store for us. We live in an age where the glory that is potentially visible for us is greater than want was beheld by the Old Testament saints. We live under a covenant where the potential of visible glory is even greater than what the disciples of Jesus Christ saw during their life time.

Jesus is not gone, He is here, more than ever, through His Spirit indwelling His saints, and His works are greater than anything that History ever saw! Yes, the disciples got to see the cross, but they didn’t get to understand its full glory until after the Spirit was given to them. The only way they could understand the glory of the cross was by looking back, as we must do ourselves also!

When Jesus came on earth He had two very purposeful goals: make disciples and die on the cross. But now, Jesus is in heaven, with no restraint, and He is working hard! Maybe some of you wish you were back in the days of Jesus so that you could see some of His miracles. But this is Jesus’ plea for you today: believe! Believe in His awesomeness today! He is not gone. His presence has not departed. He is alive and ready to reveal His glory more than ever! The works that He did, He gives us to do them too, and even greater works.

Joh 14:21  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. »

Jesus wants to make His glory manifest to us. He wants to reveal Himself to those who believe in Him, who take His words and keeps them and love them. Jesus is not far – but here is the question: what are our expectations? What kind of Jesus are we expecting to see?

We live in a day and age where people like things that are superficial. We live in a generation that would rather follow a cool Jesus rather than a holy Jesus. We would rather have a small Jesus that meets our felt and selfish needs rather a glorious Jesus that rocks this world with power and strength. What kind of Jesus do we believe in?

How much worth you attribute to Jesus will dictate how you conduct your Christian life and how you set your expectations for your Christian life. Don’t be satisfied with so little.

There is a pattern that we see in Scriptures that is quite captivating. Yes, God is with us on every step of the road. But do you know where we see Him most? When we go the extra mile. This is why Jesus tries to help us think outside of the box here. The extra mile is what stretches our faith. It is what challenges us, what makes us grow. It’s when we step in the darkness hoping that God’s hand will catch us, it’s when we jump from the sky hoping that God will be our parachute. This is the axiom of the Christian life: God is always greater than what you think He is. God loves you more than you will always know. His goodness in His sovereign plans for your life is better than you will ever imagine. His power will always be greater than you can fathom. His grace will always abound more than you can receive. Living with God is like standing under a mile-long waterfall of blessedness.

But we won’t go the extra mile if we don’t believe that God will meet us there. We won’t take steps of faith unless we expect God to surprise us.

Believe! This is Jesus’ command. Believe in Him, in the fullness of who He is, in the beauty of His plans for your life, in the readiness of His glory to be revealed! Believe! It all starts with believing. Let us get rid of our low expectations, let us get rid of our blind eyes. Jesus is near, and His power and grace are closer than ever! And he will not refuse His Spirit to those who ask, and He gives the Spirit without measure. Without measure! May our eyes be open to believe!

II. ASK

The first instruction of Christ, as we saw in this passage, is to believe. Here is the second one: ask.

Joh 14:13  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Joh 14:14  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

First, Jesus said that this faith was for everyone who was ready to accept it. It wasn’t just for some elite disciples. Anybody can do those greater works. Secondly, Jesus insists that you can ask anything. “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do.”

Now, what do you think Jesus meant by “whatever”? Anything at all? Of course not, it is anything that we ask in His name. Basically, anything that Jesus can do, as far as His role over the created world and His role as the submitted second Person of the Trinity. Well, that is still a lot, isn’t it?

In this verse, Jesus communicates to us His heart of compassion. He is willing. If we ask things that are according to His will, that are pleasing to Him, and that are appropriate, then His only desire is to grant us our requests.

Luk 11:10  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Luk 11:11  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;

Luk 11:12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

What if you prayed God: please protect me on my way to work today? Do you think God would be like: “Hanhanhan! Let’s send some rocks falling from cliffs and drunk truck drivers falling over! Hanhhanhan! Isn’t it so much fun to be sovereign?”

Jesus’ heart is one that is full and ready to give. He has treasure-houses filled with blessings to pour on His people.

Jesus is so willing. Even for the small things. I used to live on a very busy street where there was barely any parking. And so when I would be on my way home, I would pray that God would open a parking spot close from home. God answered almost every single time. One time I had prayed, and as I got in front of my apartment there was no spot. And so I stopped in front of my home and said to God, “Ok, I am home now!” And the next second a car pulled out, giving me their spot.

Think about how many times got provided the weather you needed or helped you to be on time to an important appointment when things were not looking so good?

Now, do we need those extra little things to have a good life? We probably could live fine without them. But that’s not the point. The point is that Jesus is willing. His heart is big. He loves you. Knowing how much God cares for us should make us pray with a smile.

And He also loves His Father. We could probably live our life without praying and probably get by, like unbelievers do. But when would God get the glory? The difference between getting something through prayer and getting something without prayer, is that when you get it, you give glory to God, no matter what it is. And that’s what Jesus has in mind. He wants us to worship the Father and praise Him as much as possible! At the source of every single motivation of Christ comes a deep and profound love for His Father.

The context again here is that Jesus is about to leave. During His life on earth, all He did was for the glory of the Father. That was the passion He had instilled in His followers. He wanted them to love His Father and to give all the glory to Him.

Place yourselves again in the sandals of the disciples. Jesus had taught them so many things. He is about to leave, and here He gives them hope. He gives them a challenge, to believe, and He gives them a way to put this challenge into actions through prayer.

You know what was probably one of the most awesome things for the disciples when they received the Holy Spirit? What was awesome is that they probably could tell that the Spirit was the very presence of Jesus Christ. Their best friend, their teacher, their Messiah and Savior. I can’t imagine the joy and the peace they must have felt when they were indwelt with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. Of course they would continue to talk with Him, being in His presence! Of course they would pray, and ask many things!

It wasn’t just a force in them, it was their friend and their God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth! No wonder why they started taking over the world after He left. They knew what Jesus could do, and He was living inside of them! That’s a winning team, right there!

Jesus second instruction is simple: ask. If you want to continue experiencing the glory of God, ask. If you want to see Jesus at work, ask. If you want to be used by God, ask. Not only Jesus is willing, but He is God too!

This is why Spurgeon said that he would rather teach one man to pray than 10 men to preach. Prayer is truly where the action is. If you want God the Father to work, then you need to go in prayer in the name of Jesus the Son. It’s just the way it works. That is the pattern set in Scriptures. This is how the Father is glorified. It is through the Son. It’s been like this from creation, when the world was created through the Son for God’s glory, and it continued at the cross when the Father was glorified through Jesus Christ’s atoning death.

If you want to see God’s glory, you need to go through the Son in prayer. The Bible is clear that Jesus’ role is that of a mediator. I mean, if you want 50 bucks from me, you will be more successful having my fiancée come to ask me than do it yourself. I’m telling you, I would not be able to say no, because I love her. And it’s not that I don’t love you, but, well, you know…

Robert Murray McCheyne said on this matter: “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”

Did you know that right now, as I am speaking, Jesus is praying for you? He is praying that these words would penetrate your heart and transform you? I know He is, I asked him and so did dozens of other people.

Listen. When you pray, Jesus prays. And when Jesus prays, the Father always hears Him.

Joh 11:41  So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, « Father, I thank you that you have heard me.

Joh 11:42  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me. »

As we are faithful to ask, God will be faithful to answer. For Jesus, this was so obvious that He was able to say “I will do it.” “You pray to me, I talk to my dad, and then I come back to you. But no worries, He likes me.”

How many deathbeds confession have been the same: “I wish I had prayed more.” (pause)

Is this going to be your confession?

Andrew Murray wrote: “The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.”  I’m not going to lie. I wish all of us would be such men and women of God.

But it’s sad. We hear messages on the greatness of prayer, and we get motivated for a while, and then we go back to our old habits. It takes more than earthly motivation to grow habits of prayer warriors. It takes conviction. Like the saying goes, “A man holds an opinion, but a conviction holds the man.” This is why Jesus was saying: “First believe, then ask!”

I hope that some of you would truly turn around the corner for a change that would last a lifetime, even today! I hope and pray that some of you would be struck with the deep conviction of God that you want to be such a man or a woman of God.

There are different stages in the Christian walk. It is easy to stay on a superficial level of just being “good people” doing “good things.” My challenge today is that we would not simply be good people, but that we would be godly people. That we would not only seek the external good of those around us, but that we would truly pray for them to reach depths that God alone knows. That we would not only participate on a superficial level to the life of the church, but that we would fully devote our hearts to prayer for the growth and holiness of the precious Bride of Jesus Christ!

This is my challenge for you today. Be that godly man! Be that godly woman! May prayerlessness be the deathbed confession of someone else’s. Let us not be the ones that miss Jesus because we feel like He said good-bye and remains faraway until we meet Him again. Let us cling to Him in prayer!

III. WATCH

So first you believe, second you ask, and thirdly, you watch. That is Jesus final instruction.

Joh 14:12  « 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.

Joh 14:13  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Joh 14:14  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

This is the beauty. You believe, you pray, and then you see Jesus at work. If we ask Him anything in His name, He will do it. That’s a promise.

Seeing God answer prayers is one of the most amazing things in the world. It’s amazing because God often answers prayers completely outside of what we control. This is why we must love prayer. We must love prayer because we must love to see God at work in ways that are obvious. We must love to see God doing things that He alone can do.

Think about where you are at in life. Think about this last month. What is it that God has been doing that you have no doubt – something that must have come directly from His hand. Something that you go: “Wow, this was God.”

If you can’t think of anything, let me tell you: you are missing out. But if you can think of some of these things: don’t you want more? Don’t you want to see God more?

Jesus is not gone. He promised it: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” But here is my question: do we bring Him with us where we go? I understand that once we are saved we cannot lose our salvation. That’s not what I am talking about. What I want to know is: what did you ask Jesus to do today? Did you ask Him to change someone’s life? Did you ask Him to transform you from a degree of glory to another? Did you ask Him to give you opportunities to encourage someone and be a blessing to the church body? Did you ask Him to convict unbelievers to come under the hearing of His Word?

Do you think Jesus would answer such prayers? I can tell you He would. It might require perseverance, but He probably would.

Often after hearing a sermon on the Word of God and somehow applying the truth to ourselves, instead of praying without ceasing, we go home and try to cease without praying. But that doesn’t last. It can’t last.

When you pray and wait on the Lord, what is amazing is that you don’t have to fight on your own strength. You watch; and you watch God.

Exo 14:14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. »

When I think about God’s works I often think about creation. I wish I was there. Not only because I know I would be completely blown away by seeing galaxies and forests and rivers and living creatures come to life, but also by the thought that all these things are nothing compared to the work that God is doing in the lives of His children. God created the world in 6 days. How long has He been working on you?

You think just about the complexity of the human body: there are enough blood vessels in your body to go twice around the world. You’ve got a brain that functions on the same amount of power as a 10-watt light bulb and yet it can store 5 times as much information as the Encyclopedia Britannica. You’ve got a heart that beats close to 100,000 times a day and have the capacity to feel touch and pain traveling in your body at the speed of 350 feet per second!

But all of that is nothing compared to the glory that God has in store for us. It’s nothing! He has predestined us to be like Christ!

But that we would open our eyes to see!

The thought that God continues to reveal His very works to mankind is probably one of the most inspiring truths of Scriptures to my soul. It changes everything. It raises expectations to a new other level. Because when I read about what kind of works God does, I want more.

The works that Christ did, in displaying His love, preaching the truth, forgiving offenders, rejoicing in suffering, all of these He grants us to copy, and much more.

Andrew Murray wrote one time: “Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what he can do.”

The example of our faith will be our legacy to the coming generation. Will your life inspire the young people, or will it not?

You don’t want to limit God. You want Him to surprise you. So believe, ask, and then watch.

CONCLUSION

Remember Moses’ plea? “Show me your glory!” He asked to see God’s glory. That actually cost him the promised land. It cost him 40 years of his life. And he only got to see part of that glory. But it still changed his life. Turn with me to Deut 33:29 and read Moses’ last words:

Deu 33:29  Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs. »

When God revealed His glory to Moses, He did so only in part, but still it was by making salvation to an entire people. Moses had seen the plagues. He had seen the hand of God. He had talked to God one on one. Yet his last words were centered on the salvation of God.

Moses got to see one nation encounter the salvation of God. Now, all authority has been given us so that we would get to see that salvation throughout all the nations.

Jesus is near. He is here with His power, He is here with His love. But “Jesus” doesn’t mean “God is love.” It doesn’t mean “God is powerful.” It means “God saves.” This is what God wants to be known for. This is how He wants to manifest Himself.

God’s glory and His salvation are never too far from one another. Look at John 17:23.

Joh 17:22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

Joh 17:23  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

“Nothing so much glorifies God as His gracious redemption of damned, hell bound sinners…Fellowship, teaching and praise are not the mission of the church but are rather the preparation of the church to fulfill its mission of winning the lost.” – John MacArthur on the Great Commission

Even that love and that glory and all that comes with it keeps pushing the same button of God’s love for the lost.

Listen. Angels get goose bumps when people get saved even though they spend their time at the altar of God’s glory.

Jesus left, but He did for the right reason. He left so that His salvation would extent to all the nations, through the work of His Holy Spirit and His saints. And if like the disciples you want to stay in touch with Jesus, then you must get into the business of loving the lost. So first, believe in who Jesus truly is and what He wants us to pursue, secondly ask in prayer!, and thirdly, watch on the front seats the outpouring of God’s glorious might in bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.

Listen. We were just talking about Moses. I love the Old Testament. It’s so intense. It’s so sobering. One of the things that I love are the genealogies. There are so extremely humbling. Because we see one generation after another after another of people whose lives made no difference, had no impact, or nothing significant enough to be talked about. And this is my challenge for you today: do you want to be known as an Arpashad, a Shelah, an Eber, a Serug? Or do you want to be a Moses or an Abraham? The greater works have been prepared beforehand for us to walk in them in faith and in prayer. Will we make a difference, or are we just one more generation?

We’ve been going through the book of Mark. In chapter 2, verse 12, people said concerning the works of Christ, “We never saw anything like this before!” Will those who watch your works and our church say the same thing? By God’s grace, may it be.

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