Greater Works And Answered Prayers

John 14:10-14 … The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 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. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.


You’ll do “greater works” than Jesus and Jesus will do for you “whatever you ask” in His name. That sounds like a remarkably good deal, doesn’t it?! There’s more to it than just that, but Jesus’ words are good news indeed.

The big idea in this passage is that on account of being one with the Father, on account of His sacrificial death being accepted by the Father, and for the Father’s glory, Jesus’ followers will do marvelous works and have our prayers answered. Consequently, the main takeaways are for all of God’s people to courageously obey Jesus and pray expectantly to Jesus.

To help you see all of these things, we’ll look carefully at the two main claims of the passage: (1) You will do my works and greater still (vs.10-12) and (2) You will receive whatever you ask in my name (13-14). Before we do, let’s pray for heavenly insight to understand, faith to believe, and courage to obey.


Again, the two main claims of this passage are that Jesus’ followers will do Jesus’ works and greater still, and that Jesus’ followers will receive from Jesus all that we ask in Jesus’ name. Let’s consider the first claim first.

This sermon is mainly focused on vs.12-14, but for context, I included vs. 10-11 as well. From that whole section we see that the mighty, marvelous, miraculous words and works, spoken and done by Jesus were the words and works of the Father (10). They were said and done according to the Father’s will (10), in the Father’s indwelling strength (10), and for the Father’s glory (13). They were spoken and performed by Jesus in order to demonstrate that He was truly from the Father, in order to elicit belief from all who witnessed them (11).

And rooted in each of those remarkable truths about Jesus and His relationship with the Father is a promise from Jesus to all His followers.

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.

The heart of this promise is that Jesus’ post resurrection ministry would be more powerful than was His ministry on earth. That’s a big claim. There are five pillars that hold it up. (1) Jesus did marvelous works, (2) Those who believe in Him, (3) Will do those works, and (4) Greater works still, (5) Because Jesus went to the Father. Let’s consider each.

1. Jesus Did Marvelous Works

Since the main claim of vs.10-12 is that Jesus did marvelous works and His followers would do the works that Jesus did and greater works still, it seems like a good idea to do a quick review of the works Jesus did.

I found a helpful summary (Kruise, TNTC, 295) of the things John explicitly characterized as “the works” of Jesus.

This expression is used repeatedly in connection with Jesus’ ministry, and denotes (1) evangelizing the Samaritan woman (4:34); (2) healing the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda (5:20; 7:21); (3) healing the man born blind (9:3, 4); (4) Jesus’ miracles generally (7:3; 10:25, 32, 33, 37, 38; 14:11, 12; 15:24); (5) Jesus’ teaching (10); and (6) Jesus’ entire ministry generally (5:36; 17:4).

In other words, in John’s Gospel, the “works” of Jesus are explicitly said to include His works of ministry, healing, teaching, and miracles.

Before we move on, and I probably don’t have to tell you this, but we have to get our heads around this. Jesus didn’t merely teach a life-changing message or two. He didn’t merely perform some particularly impressive acts of service. He didn’t merely show significant courage. He didn’t merely walk in a unique measure of holiness. He did all of those things, but in addition, Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, calmed a storm, fed 5000 men (plus their wives and children) with a few fish and loaves of bread, fulfilled centuries-old prophesies, and lived for 30 years without committing a single sin in affection, intention, thought, word, or action.

Those are the works that form the backdrop for Jesus first promise.

2. Whoever Believes in Him

The works-of-Jesus promise that follows is not for everyone though. And Jesus couldn’t have been clearer or more emphatic about who it’s for. We just saw the backdrop of Jesus’ promise, now we’ll consider the recipients.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me…

Verily, verily. Amen, amen. Truly, truly.

Listen carefully, what I’m about to say is critical for you to understand. I’m about to make a promise in relation to the works you’ve seen me perform. It’s an awesome promise. My fulfillment of that promise will be a significant part of the means by which I draw people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to Myself (Matthew 5:16) and give glory to my Father who is in heaven.

And the promise is for all who have, do, and will believe in Me. It is for all who believe that I alone am the way to the Father, who believe that to know Me is to know the Father, who believe that to see Me is to see the Father, who believe that I speak not of my own authority but of the Father’s, who believe that my works are the Father’s works, who believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, who believe that by way of the cross, resurrection, and ascension I will bring about the forgiveness of the sins of the world and I will return to the Father.

Do you believe these things? Do you believe in Jesus? If so, He has a promise for you!

3. Will Do Those Works

What is that promise? Once again, the beginning of that promise is that those who believe in Jesus will do the works of Jesus.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do…

Those who believe in Jesus will give ourselves to doing the works that Jesus did. The grace of God and the nature of genuine belief are such that Christians are never passive. The mature Christian life is not primarily one of meditation and isolation. The mature Christian life is busy at doing the good works of Jesus in the world and among the people that belong to Jesus.

Jesus’ declaration is, at its most basic level, a declaration that Christians spend our lives caring for the poor and vulnerable, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, teaching one another concerning the will of God, bringing and maintaining order to a world steeped in the chaos of sin, bearing one another’s burdens, praising God, holding back evil, etc.—the things Jesus did.

Everyone, everyone, everyone who believes in Jesus will do these things; the things Jesus did. If you don’t, you are not a Christian. You can’t be a Christian, according to this verse, and not do Jesus’ works. The grace of God leads us to believe in Jesus. That’s how we become Christians. And then the grace of God works the works of Christ in us. That’s how we know we are Christians. It can be no other way.

Let me give you an important clarification and then a simple, somewhat silly analogy. The clarification is this: Jesus was not saying that every Christians will do everything He did. As we consider this promise of Jesus in light of the all the works of Jesus, it might sound like Jesus was saying, “Everything I did, everyone who believes in me will do too.” Some have mistakenly claimed that this means all Christians will heal the sick, raise the dead, perform miracles, walk on water, etc. But 1 Corinthians 12 explicitly prohibits this interpretation.

What Jesus is saying instead, is that He walked in perfect righteousness. He showed us the works of one whose hope is in God. He modeled for us the whole spectrum of godliness. And if we believe in Him by the grace of God, by the grace of God we will be increasingly marked by doing those things.

Here’s the simple, silly analogy. If you play golf, you probably know that you can only have 14 clubs in your bag. Those are the only clubs you can use. At the same time, if you play golf, you definitely know that you don’t use every club in your bag every time. In fact, many people never use some of the clubs in their bag. Every shot you take has to be with one of them, but you don’t need to use all of them.

Likewise, the works of Jesus collectively are a perfect example of godliness. Our works must be from among Jesus works, even though no one will do all of them.

There’s one more important word of clarification before we move on. We’ve just seen that v.12 contains a command and promise from Jesus that His followers will do the works Jesus did. V.11 tells us one of the key reasons for Jesus’ works and therein one of the key motivators for us as we follow in His example.

Jesus’ works were done to help others believe in Him. The loving, sacrificial, miraculous works of Jesus make it obvious that His message is true when the grace of God comes upon us. In the same way, God has determined to use our works as a means of helping others believe in Him too. As we give ourselves to doing works that only make sense if Jesus is real and our belief in Him is genuine, by God’s grace, others will see them and believe in Jesus as well.

Is that your heart and your life? Is your heart filled with love for Jesus and those He came to save such that you truly long for others to know that saving grace you’ve received. And is your life ordered in such a way that out of your love and longing, flow the works Jesus did in order to help others believe in Jesus?

Jesus’ command and promise is that these things will be increasingly true in all who truly believe in Him.

4. And Even Greater Works

If that were all Jesus said, it’d be amazing. But that’s not all that Jesus said. He wasn’t done yet. As big as the first part of Jesus’ promise is, He expanded it even further.

Not only would those who believe in Jesus do the works that Jesus did, but 12 greater works than these will he do…” as well!

Remember the teaching, healing, miracles, prophesies, and sinlessness. What could it possibly mean that believers in Jesus would do the works He did, let alone, greater works still?!

There have been a number of suggestions. I’ll name three. First, is the idea that since Jesus would have millions of disciples, it makes sense to say that they would do “greater” (as in, far more) works than Jesus. That’s true, but not what “greater” means. “Greater” in this sense is not about numbers.

A second possibility put forward is that Jesus was only speaking of His disciples. Indeed, the disciples were able to cast out demons (Matthew 10:1), they did heal the sick (Matthew 10:1), Peter preached in a single language to people from many languages and thousands came to faith in Jesus (Acts 2), both Peter (Acts 9:36-42) and Paul (Acts 20:7-12) raised someone from the dead, and on and on. Those things are impressive, they are the works Jesus worked, but it’s hard to think of them as “greater still” and they are almost certainly not what Jesus meant either since He said, “Whoever believes in me.” Clearly, not every believer in Jesus has done greater works than Jesus did in His earthly ministry.

If not these things, then what did Jesus mean? The answer is in the final clause of v.12.

5. Because Jesus Went to the Father

The grounding clause of all of this was, “because I am going to the Father.”

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.

Whatever Jesus meant by “greater works,” it was rooted in those words. It was His going to the Father that made possible the “greater works than these” by “whoever believes” in Him.

The shortest and simplest version of what Jesus meant by “greater” (and the third possibility) is that New Covenant ministry is “greater” than Old Covenant ministry. It is greater for three main reasons.

First, the works Jesus did during His ministry on earth only pointed to what was to come. Jesus’ works were great, but they were ultimately the promise of a greater future grace. In spite of every marvelous work Jesus performed on earth, the world would still be lost in sin if that’s where it ended. Jesus’ works on earth were evidence that He was who He said He was and that faith in what He would do was right.

Going to the Father, though, changed everything because it was on the other side of Jesus’ victory! He ascended to the Father’s right hand only after going to the cross to atone for sins and rising from the dead. In other words, Jesus’ followers would do greater works in that their works were done once victory was not only promised, but secured.

Second, the New Covenant works of Jesus’ followers are “greater” than Jesus’ works in that they were done by a believers in whom the Spirit dwelt. Jesus was the first man to experience the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. His entire ministry was done in perfect submission to the Father and perfect empowerment by the Spirit. Prior to the New Covenant, the Spirit would come upon certain believers for certain periods of time to accomplish certain things. But on the other side of Jesus going to the Father, the Spirit would dwell in all who believed in Jesus, empowering us to do “greater works than these.”

Jesus will make this connection explicitly in 16:7-9, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

Finally, third, Jesus’ followers would do “greater” works in the sense that in an entirely new way the Good News of God’s salvation would go out into the world. Gentiles (non-Jews) would see, delight in, and come to the Light in unprecedented, “greater” ways than ever before in the history of the world.

God’s commission was always that His chosen people would be a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6), but it was only after Jesus went to the Father and the Spirit was sent that this took place in “greater” fullness (Acts 10:9-16).

What an awesome promise! What an awesome reality that we’re now living in, in the time of the New Covenant!

By God’s grace, may we live more fully in light of that, Grace Church. May we do the works of Jesus and greater still as we minister in this New Covenant time, filled with the Spirit, and in the victory of the cross; as evidence of the genuineness of our belief and as a means of belief for others. May we proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior with greater earnestness and courage. May we do so with greater expectation and confidence. May we do so while believing truly in this promise of Jesus that still stands.


All by itself, that last promise is almost overwhelming if we really grasp it. And yet, just as Jesus was not finished by promising that His followers would do the works Jesus did, neither was Jesus done in promising that they would do greater works still. Immediately following, Jesus made another staggering promise to His disciples.

13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

This promise is still only for those who believe in Jesus and is still made possible by Jesus having gone to the Father. Once again, this needs some explaining. And once again, nothing in the explanation dulls the awesome reality of Jesus words or their implications.

In its simplest and most basic sense, v.13 means that we can pray to Jesus, that He always hears us and cares about us, that Jesus is sovereign over all things, and that Jesus is pleased to work through our requests.

Again, all by itself, that’s almost impossible to fathom for anyone who understands the holiness of God and the sinfulness of their own heart. And yet, there’s more still to Jesus’ promise. Let’s consider, therefore, the four key clauses of it.

Whatever You Ask

The first clause is found at the beginning of both v.13 and 14. It’s worded slightly differently in each, but the essence is the same in both, “Whatever you ask” or “If you ask me anything”.

Understanding what Jesus meant by “whatever” and “anything” is key. All four clauses point to the same answer. While it is good to make our every request known to God (Philippians 4:6-7), that’s not what Jesus intended here. This is one of those verses that it especially important to keep rooted in its context. And its context is the disciples doing the works of Jesus.

In other words, the beginning of Jesus’ promise here is that as His followers set about doing the works that Jesus did (and greater still), as Jesus’ disciples seek to obey Jesus’ commands concerning making disciples of all nations, we ought to turn “whatever” and “anything” that comes our way back to Jesus in prayer.

Simply, the beginning of this promise is the idea that we should hold nothing back in prayer as it pertains to doing the works that Jesus did.

In My Name

The second clause is also repeated in vs.13 and 14. Jesus’ promise is for those who offer their prayers for the grace of God to work out in them the good works of Jesus, to Jesus, “in Jesus’ name.” As I said, this too points to the fact that the “whatever” and “anything” in Jesus’ promise is not indiscriminate.

To ask for something in Jesus’ name is not to think of “Jesus” as the magic word or secret password to unlock the power. It is not the proverbial rubbing of the lamp to get the genie to come out of the bottle. That’s something to keep in mind whenever we pray.
Instead, to ask for something in Jesus’ name is to ask for His sake. It is to ask as if He were asking for it. It is to ask for the things He wants. It is to ask for His purposes. It is to surrender our own will and desires to His. It is to ask in complete confidence that He alone is mighty to answer.

Again, I wonder how different our ordinary, daily prayers would be “in Jesus’ name” if we were to keep this in mind. We’d most certainly ask for different things, in different ways, and to different ends. And that’s what Jesus was driving at when He spoke these words to His faithful followers.

The main point, in this context, therefore, is that praying in Jesus’ name means asking for Him to accomplish His purposes through His works in you.

I Will Do

The third clause is the great promise. When we do what Jesus commanded (ask for Jesus to meet whatever need arises as we seek to do His works, for His purposes, in His name), He will do it.

For a third time v.14 echoes v.13.

13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do… 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

According to God’s design and reflected in Jesus’ promise, the means by which we will do greater works than Jesus, under the New Covenant in His blood, that the nations might believe in Jesus, is…prayer.

Our prayers for His works to be done in us, will be answered, since our prayers are a means He has sovereignly determined to accomplish His purposes in the world.

So, let’s consider His works and commands carefully and strive in faith to obey. And as we do, let us ask Jesus to provide the help we need in Jesus’ name. And as we do, let us expect Jesus to be true to His word.

Set your sights on the evangelization of an unbeliever in your life, ask Jesus to grant you love and boldness in heart and clarity and power in words, and share in unwavering expectation. He will do it.

Set your sights on caring for the fatherless and downtrodden, ask Jesus to grant you the selflessness, resources, and friends you need to do this well, ask in Jesus’ name that He would be pleased to comfort, heal, and father them through you, and then sign up to be a foster parent or a TFG host or visit an orphanage or become a social worker, all in order that all who see you doing these things will believe in Jesus and trust that Jesus will be true to His promise.

Set your sights on teaching God’s ways to God’s people. Ask Jesus to grant you love for His people, insight into His will, joyful obedience to His Word, and the favor of those charged to feed the flock. And then do all that you can to make the Bible come alive for God’s people, eagerly expecting Jesus to do what you ask in His name as you give yourself to this work of Jesus.

Read the word of God. Learn the works of Jesus. Pray without ceasing. Obey sacrificially. Trust implicitly.

For the Father’s Glory

Finally, the ultimate motivation in all of this—in all that Jesus did, commanded, and promised, as well as in all we ought to do—is the glory of God. When we believe in Jesus and seek His help to obey His commands, He will empower us to do His works and more so that He might glorify the Father.

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

O, Grace Church, may we learn to love and live the chief end of man. By God’s grace, may we learn that the glory of God is the greatest treasure. May we learn that there is nothing we might give ourselves to that comes within one million light years of the worth and satisfying power of the glory of God.


I want to close by sharing with you an example of this exact thing. I want to show you what all this looks like in practice. I want you to see a real-life example of what it means to do the works of Jesus and greater still, as a result of asking Jesus to grant it in His name and for the Father’s glory.

Consider with me in closing, Acts 4. The chapter opens with Peter and John (the author of the Gospel of John) proclaiming Jesus on the other side of Jesus’ having gone to the Father. As a result, 5,000 men came to faith in Jesus. 5,000 men (plus an unknown number of women and children) became believing believers.

They did the works of Jesus and greater still in their New Covenant, Spirit-indwelling ministry.

Much like when Jesus was ministering on earth, the religious leaders of the day, the rulers, elders, and scribes interrogated these men. Unwilling to give an inch in the face of this opposition, these men boldly declared “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

They did the works of Jesus, in the name and power of Jesus, that all who heard might believe.

Impressed, but incensed, the Jewish leaders commanded Peter and John to be silent.

Rather than being intimidated, they praised God for what happened, rejoined their friends in Christ, and together prayed the kind of prayer this passage teaches us to pray,

“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

    ” ‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
        and the peoples plot in vain?
    26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
        and the rulers were gathered together,
        against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Wow! Do you see it? John, the one who wrote our passage for this morning, recording Jesus’ commands and promises concerning Christians doing the works of Jesus and greater still, empowered by faithful prayers, did just that. He did the works of Jesus and prayed as Jesus commanded and experienced what Jesus promised.

It should be of no surprise, then, that in the last verse of the chapter we read,

31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

May it be so, and even more, Grace Church, in Jesus’ name, to the belief of the world, and for the glory of God.