John 14:13-14 – Jesus’ Whatever

The night before His crucifixion, Christ is seeking to comfort the disciples with some profound truths.
·  As He does so, He reveals a number of privileges that are available only to the “whoever believes”.
·  In other words, He describes for us some of the things that set believers apart from everyone else.
·  Even the “self-actualized, Oprah-loving, God-believing, non-judgmental, ‘good person’”

As we go forward, it is critical that we remember (as we learned last week) the importance of the “spiritualness” over the “physicalness” side of doing and reality.
·  It is clear, that Jesus valued the first over the second.
·  When He spoke and taught, this truth undergirded His propositions (as we will see again).

This priority for Jesus also reminds us how mind boggling this tension between the spiritual and the physical is.
·  We can’t see the spiritual or test it in a lab.
·  In fact, embracing the truth of a spiritual world, and its priority over the physical world, might be one of the biggest hang-ups of post-modern, western civilization.
·  Yet, the very truth of Jesus’ words, and our ability to rightly understand them, rests on the truth of the spiritual world.

In our text today, we will contend with the first of three privileges that distinguish the Christian from the non-Christian.
·  The first is that for the believer, Jesus “will do” “whatever you ask”.


John 14:13–14 (ESV) — 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.

As with last week’s text, these propositions by Jesus are incredible.
·  whatever you ask…I will do
·  ask me anything…I will do it
·  Later He says, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (15:7)
·  And, “whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (15:16)

“What is most striking is the scope of the promise, for it is not merely that those to whom he was speaking should have the privilege of prayer, nor even that he would hear their prayers and from time to time grant what they should ask. It is that Jesus would hear their prayers and grant their requests always” – Boice.

We want so badly for “whatever” to actually mean our whatever.
·  How cool would it be to ask for whatever we think we need and get it.
·  This would be a great assurance of the reality of our relationship with God, wouldn’t it?
·  It would certainly show who the Christians are?
·  And it would be an excellent testimony of the truth and power of God, right?
·  BTW – the answer to these questions is no – see last week’s lesson.
o   workers of lawlessness” would most certainly be manifesting the same “getting”.
o   Satan would see to that.
o   Remember, the most profound differences are not found in the physical.

So the question that begs to be answered is what does “whatever” mean?
·  The answer is that it really means whatever.
·  However, we will see it is Jesus’ “whatever”.

That the “whatever” is not “our whatever” is made evident by Paul:
·  2 Corinthians 12:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So to understand what “whatever” Jesus meant, we need to look at a definition.
·  Jesus says of the “whatever”, “this I will do”.
·  “Do” is the Greek word poieo.
·  It means “to undertake or do something that brings about an event, state, or condition” – BDAG.
·  Knowing this helps us frame our question more directly.

Our question becomes what is the “whatever”, that Jesus will undertake or do to bring about?
·  This shows us the intimacy of the link between the “whateverand the action of Jesus.
·  In other words, we can’t divorce the “whatever” from the fact that its origin is coming from the intercession of the exalted Jesus Christ (vs. 12).
·  Immediately, this frames the “whatever” as sacred and not profane – Jesus’ “whatever”.
·  “To ask anything of the Father, in the name of Jesus, means that we ask what Jesus would ask, what would please Him, and what would bring Him glory by furthering His work” – Warren Wiersbe.

I suggest that the action of Jesus on our behalf is in the style of the action of the Father on Jesus’ behalf.
·  Martha, Lazarus’ sister, gave us a glimpse of this in John 11:22.
·  She said to Jesus, But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.
·  The Father gave to Jesus and in the same way Jesus, because he is at the Father’s right hand, will give to “whoever believes”.
·  Now we have the context to properly answer the question.


To assist us in understanding the “whatever” in this context, Jesus qualifies his proposition with at least 3 things.
·  (1) We have to actually ask, that is pray.
·  (2) We have to do so in Jesus’ name.
·  (3) And it must glorify God the Father.

Qualification 1 – “whatever you ask:
We have to actually ask Jesus for the “whatever”.
·  Making a petition to Jesus should give us pause; He isn’t Santa Claus; He is God.

In fact, Jesus gave us direction on how we are to ask.
·  Matthew 6:8–13 (ESV) — 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Our asking (and life) is to be centered on God the Father’s name, kingdom and will.
·  Only in this way can we ask for, and does it even make sense to ask for, “our daily bread” and spiritual victory.
·  Though not excluding a “physical” meaning, it is likely that “daily bread” has a spiritual meaning behind it.
o   Jesus as the bread of life.
o   The bread necessary for the spiritual victory we are to be asking for.
·  Whatever the case, the asking begins with and is centered on God.

Qualification 2 – “in my name:
What does it mean to ask “in my name”?
·  “God is not giving us carte blanche; ‘in My name’ is the controlling element” – Warren Wiersbe.
·  “Prayers in his name are prayers that are offered in thorough accord with all that his name stands for (i.e. his name is not used as a magical incantation: cf. 1 Jn. 5:14), and in recognition that the only approach to God those who pray enjoy, their only way to God (cf. vv. 4–6), is Jesus himself” – D. A. Carson.
·  “To pray in the name of Jesus is, therefore, first, to come to God as a Christian, having believed on Jesus, and, second, to come humbly, recognizing that we have no claims upon him but that Jesus himself does and that we can approach God solely on that basis” – James Boice.
·  In other words, Jesus is our access to the Father; our intercessor; our high priest.
·  He is “the way” to the Father (John 14:6).
·  He is the Father’s Jesus.
·  BTW – this means that prayer as access to God is the exclusive domain of “whoever believes”.
o   God hearing/answering the prayer of the unbeliever would be an exception

Qualification 3 – “the Father maybe glorified in the Son:
Jesus makes clear; the ultimate qualification is that the “whatever” must glorify God.
·  And Jesus, and by extension us, will glorify the Father through us by doing our “whatever”.
·  This was the focus of Jesus’ entire ministry (see John 5).
·  The chief aim of man is to glorify God.
·  This is simple enough and leads us directly to the answer to our question.

Our question was what is the “whatever” that Jesus will undertake or do to bring about?
·  The answer is that the “whatever” are petitions that will glorify God.
·   But Jesus’ qualifications make clear that the “whatevers” have to be rightly pursued.


God’s glory is rightly pursued when we incorporate Jesus’ qualifications into our petitions or desires (the things we ask Him for):
·  (1) Jesus’ is our example; He lived to glorify God.
o   Jesus’ “whatever” was God the Father’s “whatever”.
o   So our whatever is to be Jesus’ whatever.
o   Matthew 26:42 (ESV) — 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
·  (2) They are to be centered on God’s kingdom, name and will.
o   These things are not you and they are not your things, they are the Father and His things.
o   your will be done
o   this cannot pass” – the inauguration of the kingdom through the cross
o   For the sake of Christ, then, I am content” – Paul accepting the thorn in Jesus’ name and for His sake.
·  (3) They are to be petitioned through the lifted up and exalted Jesus Christ and sought in His name.
o   This is the believer’s privilege.
o   We are to seek the glory of God through Christ in our prayers.

BTW – There are additional qualifications.
·  John 15:7 (ESV) — 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
·  John 15:16 (ESV) — 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
·  1 John 3:22 (ESV) — 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
o   These relate to abiding and obedience which we will get into next week.
o   A second privilege of the beliver.

Biblical examples of “whatever:
·  James 1:5 (ESV) — 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
·  John 4:10 (ESV) — 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
·  What are some examples of legitimate whatevers we should be asking for?

Lesson for Us:
For Jesus, “whatever” really does mean “whatever”.
·  This is simply because the idea of acting outside of the Father’s will and not seeking the glory of the Father are foreign to Him.
·  To seek a “whatever” that doesn’t glorify God and is outside of God’s will is simply not a “whatever”.
·  Quite frankly, it is idolatry.

The fact that we can glorify God as discussed also necessitates that we re-evaluate our prayer life.
·  We too often think of prayer as primarily getting something from God.
·  But something should be very clear to us, this was not Jesus’ “whatever” or His example.
·  His purpose was to glorify the Father.
·  This is incredibly important to realize.
·  Prayer is actually a means by which God gets something from us” – James Boice.
·  And this something is His glory.
·  This is the privilege of the believer – to glorify God through the intercession of Jesus.

The following should be adapted to describe our relationship to Christ.
·  John 5:19 (ESV) — 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
·  If we get this right, we would get “the whatever” right.


John 14:12 - We Can Walk on Water? – Part 2

This is the second part of a behind the scenes look at how I study the Bible.
·  It is also the basic technique I use to collect the info I use to formulate a lesson.
·  I outlined the first 4 steps last week.
·  Here, we pick up where we left off.
·  You can read Part 1 here.


 "If the Scriptures be what they claim to be, the word of God, they are the work of one mind, and that mind divine. From this it follows that Scripture cannot contradict Scripture. God cannot teach in one place anything which is inconsistent with what He teaches in another. Hence Scripture must explain Scripture.” – Charles Hodge.

Analogy of Faith is absolutely fundamental to good Bible study.
·  It serves to insulate biblical interpretation from our own biases and baggage.
·  And as we will see, it is going to change the entire direction we are going.

So in looking for Scripture that is relevant to the subject matter of our text, I found some good stuff.
·  These are found by cross referencing, word searches, reading books and just knowing your Bible.
·  And each has things that fill out and compliment Jesus’ words in John 14.

1) 1 Corinthians 12:27–31 (ESV) — 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
·  Here Paul tells us that “gifts of healing” and “miracles” are gifts of the Spirit.
·  And we know that within the body of Christ, believers are endowed with different gifts of the Spirit – “Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing?
·  Yet Jesus’ words in our text tell us “whoever believes in me” will do His works (vs. 12).
·  So right away, we see we might have to pull back from our initial conclusions.
·  Or perhaps if Jesus is referring to His “works” as we argued, He is referring to them not in form (the actual works) but function (their purpose).

See also:
·  Hebrews 2:3–4 (ESV) — 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

2) Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV) — 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
·  Relevant to our text, we see here that works/miracles themselves are not always associated with Jesus or even believers.
·  The text suggests that miracles can and will be performed by frauds – “workers of lawlessness”.
·  This is has a profound implication for our investigation.
·  It tells us that there must have been something else about Jesus’ works that set them apart.
·  In other words, there is a reason they were significant other than the fact that they were just cool, supernatural acts.
·  And it appears that it has to do with the works’ standing before the Father – “does the will of my Father”.
·  This would imply (as mentioned above) that as profound as miracles are it is not their “physicalness” or “form” that is most significant but their “spiritualness” or “function”.

3) John 6:25–27 (ESV) — 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
·  This verse is an example of Jesus’ apparent preference for the importance of the “spiritualness” or function of reality over the “physicalness” or form of reality with respect to His works/miracles.
·  So much so that he speaks of His act of feeding the 5000 (one act) using two different categories.
o   not because you saw signs” – spiritualness/function
o   you ate your fill of the loaves” – physicalness/form
·  It seems that Jesus sees the primary purpose of His works is to be a sign to point to God the Father and by extension, Himself (the Son of Man).
·  The secondary purpose was to feed the hungry.
·  We know this because Jesus characterizes the crowds’ reaction to Him in negative terms as working, “for the food that perishes”.
·  Implicitly, then, the proper “desired” reaction is to embrace the “spiritualness” or “function” of the act and thereby comprehend the meaning of the sign – that “the food that endures to eternal life” is the Son of Man.

See also:
·  John 11:4 (ESV) — 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death [physicalness/form]. It is for the glory of God [spiritualness/function], so that the Son of God may be glorified [spiritualness/function] through it [the physicalness/form].”


Thus far, a significant amount of info has been collected about our text.
·  This info gives us a number of options as to the meaning of our text.
·  It is useful to eliminate some of these options when possible.
·  Eliminating options, i.e., determining what the answers to your questions can’t be, is what I call “affirming the negative”.
·  Even if we can’t arrive at a single consensus on the text’s meaning; it is important to at least know what it can’t mean.

From our Word Study and Analogy of Faith, we can confidently say that “works” can’t mean:
·   (1) Belief – or Jesus would be saying in John 14:11-12, “believe on account of beliefs” and “those who believe in me will believe in me”.
o   This doesn’t make sense, is redundant, and isn’t really saying anything.
·  (2) Evil Deeds – or Jesus would be saying that “whoever believes in me will do the evil deeds that I do”.
·  (3) Good Deeds – because even an unbeliever can perform the physical act of a good deed.
o   Our text limited the scope of Jesus’ words to “whoever believes”.

So we are left with two possibilities.
·  (1) Revelation of God’s glory/light
·  (2) “The deeds of God and Jesus, specifically the miracles” – BDAG
o   But our Analogy of Faith has called this meaning into doubt.
·  This brings us to the Answers and Meanings of our text.


At the beginning of our lesson, we asked the following questions:
·  1) What does Jesus mean by “works”?
·  2) What does He mean by “greater works” than His “works”?
·  3) What does “going to the Father” mean?
o   And why did Jesus qualify his statement with “going to the Father”?
·  4) What future is in view?

We thought we answered 1 until we came to Analogy of Faith.
·  We answered 2, and will soon elaborate on it.
·  We answered 3a but not 3b.
·  And we answered, or at least narrowed down, question 4.
·  Now it is time to use what we have uncovered and answer these questions as best we can.

What does Jesus mean by works?
·  Is it miracles/signs/wonders or not?
·  Or is it God’s glory?

My suggestion is that it is both.
·  In the context of Jesus’ ministry, referring to one without the other is problematic.
·  The physical works/miracles were fundamental in establishing Jesus’ connection to the Father.
·  God ordained that Jesus’ 3 year ministry would be characterized by His miracle working and teaching.
·  In other words, Jesus’ calling card was not singing, farming, politicking, making money, etc., but works and teaching.
·  As John said in John 20:31, Jesus did signs and wonders, “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…

Yet, it was what the works pointed to that was really the most important part.
·  We saw this clearly in our Analogy of Faith study.
·  In other words, the works were so important because they pointed to and glorified God the Father.
·  And they authenticated the ministry of Jesus as coming from the Father.

But we have to be careful here.
·  Given our Analogy of Faith study, it is clear that Paul teaches not every believer will perform miracles.
·  But in our text, Jesus’ said “whoever believes” will do His works.
·  So how can Jesus be referring to miracles in our text while at the same time not be referring to them?

I think the best way to look at it is as follows:
·  We need to look at “works” as one coin with two sides.
·  The coin needs both sides to be a coin – it can’t have just one side.

The two sides of the “works” coin, as we alluded to earlier, are:
·  The “physicalness” or “form” side of works
o   Walking on water
·  The “spiritualness” or “function” side of works
o   Glorifying God the Father
o   Authenticating Jesus’ ministry and relationship to Father

You can’t divorce the two; they are inseparable.
·  They are dependent on each other.
·  As we saw, if you have the “physicalness” part of the work but not the “spiritualness” then Jesus said you are a “worker of lawlessness” because you are not operating under the “will of my Father”.
·  And conversely, if you have the “spiritualness” part of the work but not the “physicalness” you are a “clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1) or a “hearer of the word and not a doer” (James 1:23).
·  And in the case of Jesus, in the context of His ministry they were just as inseparable.
o   John 2:11 (ESV) — 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
o   John 11:4 (ESV) — 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

So the final answer to the works question I would suggest is:
·  Jesus, in our text, is making a specific reference to the second side of the coin – the “spiritualness” or “function” of His works.
·  Our “works” are the same as His in that they will share the same “function” or “spiritualness” as Jesus.
·  In other words, they will glorify God.

How will we do this?
·  In other words, what will the “form” or “physicalness” of our work be?
·  This is where we see the importance of Jesus’ qualification – “because I am going to the Father”.
o   The answer to question 3b.
·  This exaltation of Jesus is why our “works” will glorify the Father.
·  His work of the Gospel is done; “it is finished”.
·  He has been vindicated and inaugurated the Kingdom of God.
·  And so He has commissioned us to speak the Gospel; to be His emissaries.
·  Speaking the Gospel is the form our “works” are to take.
·  And because He intercedes for us and has given us the Spirit (John 14:16), our works will be “greater works”.
o   Further elaboration to question 2.

So we have now attempted to answer all the questions.
·  It is time to evaluate our answers against the commentaries.


Study Bibles:
ESV Study Bible:
“While ‘signs’ in John are characteristically miracles that attest to Jesus’ identity as Messiah and Son of God, and that lead unbelievers to faith (see note on 2:11), Jesus’ “works” include both his miracles (see 7:21) and his other activities and teachings, including the whole of his ministry” – ESV Study Bible.
·  Not bad, but I think this is an oversimplification.
·  We are concerned with the meaning in our context, not a broad, all inclusive definition.
·  Highlights a drawback of Study Bibles – they don’t show “their work”.
o   Why are they “his other activities”?

MacArthur Study Bible:
“Jesus did not mean greater works in power, but in extent. They would become witnesses to all the world through the power of the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and would bring many to salvation because of the Comforter dwelling in them. The focus is on spiritual rather than physical miracles” – MacArthur Study Bible.
·  Our conclusions seem very similar – “spiritual” over “physical”.

Scholarly Commentaries:
“In the context of John’s Gospel, however, “greater things” has primarily a qualitative dimension, marking Jesus’ “signs” as preliminary and his disciples’ ministry as “greater” in the sense that their ministry is based on Jesus’ completed cross-work” – Kostenberger.
·  Kostenberger doesn’t attempt to define “works”.
·  But our conclusions about “greater works” are very similar – qualitative and not quantitative.

D.A. Carson:
“The things (erga, ‘works’, cf. v. 11) Jesus has been doing, and the greater things that follow, cannot legitimately be restricted to deeds of humility (13:15) or acts of love (13:34–35), still less to proclamation of Jesus’ ‘words’ (v. 10) Jesus’ ‘works’ may include more than his miracles; they never exclude them” – D.A. Carson.
·  This comment is somewhat different than the ESV Study Bible’s take.
·  Our conclusions are very similar – can’t exclude works, but is more than works.

And with respect to greater works, D.A. Carson says, “It cannot simply mean more works”.
·  “The very basis for their greater works is his going to the Father. Their works become greater precisely because of the new order that has come about consequent on his going to the Father” – D.A. Carson.
·  In other works, it is not quantitative but qualitative – works rooted in Jesus’ exaltation.

“‘the works that I do,’ in v 12a are clearly his miraculous works, the “signs” of the ministry which have featured so largely in the so-called “Book of Signs,” chaps. 2–12. It is illegitimate to identify them with the “word” of Jesus on the ground of the close connection of word and works in v 10bc; v 11b, with its parallel in 10:37–38, shows quite plainly that works performed by Jesus that confirm the word spoken by him are in mind” – Beasley-Murray.
·  This comment is also somewhat different than the ESV Study Bible.
·  Our conclusions are the exact same.
·  He rightly considered the use of the word in the preceding verse.

He goes on to say:
“Is the point in view rather the conveying to people of the spiritual realities of which the works Of Jesus are “signs”? All the works of Jesus are significant of the saving sovereignty of God at work among humankind through the eschatological Redeemer. The main reality to which they point, and which makes their testimony a set of variations on a single theme, is the life eternal of the kingdom of God through Jesus its mediator” – Beasley-Murray.
·  Exactly what our conclusions suggest.

John MacArthur:
“But those physical miracles were not primarily what Jesus had in mind, since the apostles did not do more powerful miracles than He had. When the Lord spoke of His followers performing greater works, He was referring to the extent of the spiritual miracle of salvation” – MacArthur.
·  Again, our conclusions seem in line with this.

James Boice:
“There are only two approaches to this verse other than saying that Jesus was simply mistaken. The first takes it as referring to miracles but then either limits the reference [referring to only the disciples] or seeks to explain why such miracles are not done today [we don’t have enough faith]” – James Boice.
·  He goes on to argue that both of these are wrong, in his view.

 “Why, for instance, should the physical miracles be considered “great” at all? Why should this be the thing Jesus refers to? One clue that it is not comes from Luke 10, in a passage that gives Christ’s response to the disciples after they had returned from their first successful preaching mission. They had returned, we are told, “with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name’ ” (v. 17). In other words, they were thrilled that they had been able to cast out devils. But Jesus replied, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (vv. 19–20). Here Jesus explicitly weighed the value of physical miracles over against the value of having passed out of spiritual death into salvation and chose the spiritual miracle without hesitation. If that is so in Luke 10, why should it not be so also in our text from the last discourses?” – James Boice.
·  Our conclusions are the exact same.
·  “spiritualness”/“function” over “physicalness”/“form”

John Piper:
“So whatever the specific works are that Jesus has in mind, what defines them here is that they are pointers to Jesus which help people believe in him. They are a witness along with Jesus words that lead people to faith. That’s what his works do, and he is saying, at least, that’s what all believers’ works do. "Whoever believes in me will do the works I do" — the works that point people to faith. If you are a believer in Jesus, that’s what your life is. Your works, your life is a display of the trustworthiness of Jesus. Here’s another support for this. If we search for the exact phrase in verse 12a, “the works that I do”, it occurs in one other place in John, namely John 10:25, “Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.” So again the function of the “works” in John 10:25 is exactly the same as here in John 14:11–12. My works are the things I do that bear witness about me. So at least we can say with confidence that in John 14:12a Jesus means that all believers will be marked by this: they will be so united to Jesus that they will carry on his work by his power and do the kinds of things that will “bear witness” about Jesus. They will point people to Jesus, and through Jesus to the Father” – John Piper.
·  This echoes our conclusions – bearing witness is speaking the Gospel.
·  We also made the connection – Jesus Works=Reasons to Believe in our word study using the same verses.
·  And of course pointing to Jesus, the object of belief, is the “spiritualness” over the “physicalness”.
·  He is the real food… “food that endures to eternal life” (see our Analogy of Faith discussion).

Lessons for Us:
So it appears we did all right.
·  This is the beauty of good Bible Study.
·  You can often discern what the greatest Bible scholars discern.
·  There is great satisfaction in this – not just in matching their insight but primarily in learning God’s Word on a deep level.
·  And the more you do it, the better you will get.
·  It is for these reasons I strongly encourage you to engage in this kind of study – at least once a month.
·  Going straight for the answers in commentaries is of very little long term value.
·  After all, in Acts we are taught to search the Scriptures!
·  I hope this “behind the scenes” study was helpful.

BTW – Now that we have figured out what the text means, we can now safely see what it means for us.
·  If I were doing a normal lesson on this text, I would do just that.
·  I would use all the info we just collected to flesh this out.
·  And typically I would organize it around the text and questions that arise from the text.


John 14:12 – We Can Walk on Water? – Part 1

In addition to teaching this lesson today, I want to teach something else at the same time.
·    Because of the text’s obvious puzzling nature, it provides us with an excellent opportunity.
·    I want to show you how I study the text and gather info for my lessons.
·    My hope is that in addition to understanding Jesus’ startling proposition, you will also come away with some ways to make your personal bible study more effective.
o   Something you should be teaching your children.

To facilitate teaching both the lesson and how I prepare a lesson, we will go through eight steps.
1.  What does the text say?
2.  Ask questions?
3.  Context, context, context
4.  Word Study
5.  Analogy of faith
6.  Affirming the negative
7.  Meaning and Answers
8.  Commentaries

How I blend these and the extent I use each depends on the text.
·    Today’s text, for example, requires an in depth word study.
·    But that is not always the case.
·    And I almost always come up with more info than I put into a lesson.

Before we begin, a few cautions.
·    Never go straight to your study Bible or commentaries – they come last and will serve to correct any mistakes you made in the study process.
·    Never read a single Bible verse (“judge not lest ye be judged” example).
·    Never interpret Scripture with experience; interpret your experience with Scripture.
·    Always let the text speak; your goal is to know the truth not be “right”.

John 14:12–14 (ESV) — 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.


This is not the time to hash out any meaning.
·    It is simply a restating of the text to ensure you understand its basic premises.

Jesus makes a conditional statement and uses the future tense to do so.
·    If you believe in Me, then you will “do the works that I do” and “greater works than these” you will do.

He then qualifies His statement with additional commentary.
·    This will happen “because I am going to the Father

After we get more info on our text, understanding that Jesus qualifies His conditional statement will help deepen our understanding.


At this time, we are asking questions about what the text means, not questions about what it means for us.
·    Questions about implications and applications for us can be rightly handled only after we know what the text means.
·    So save those questions for later.

Some Questions:
·    1) What does Jesus mean by “works”?
·    2) What does He mean by “greater works” than His “works”?
·    3) What does “going to the Father” mean?
o   And why did Jesus qualify his statement with “going to the Father”?
·    4) What future is in view?

Once we come up with a few good questions, we need to gather the info to answer them.
·    And as we do this, the context of the text must always be in view.
·    Context is king.


Context has to be a consideration in every step of the studying process.
·    But it is also necessary to understand the general context of the text itself.

We learned last week that John 14 is what is called the Farewell Discourse.
·    Jesus’ words here follow a number of startling revelations.
·    Judas will betray Jesus.
·    Peter will deny Jesus.
·    And where Jesus is going they cannot come.
o   “lifted up” to the cross
o   “exalted” to the right hand of the Father

He also sought to comfort them by telling them that a time will come when they will be with Him again.
·    He is going to prepare a place for them and He will return to get them.
·    So, just as today’s text speaks of the future, Jesus also was speaking in the future tense with His assurance that He will return.

Jesus also dropped the ultimate J-Bomb when He taught them He is the only way to the Father.
·    This was a further assurance to them.
·    He will come back for them and they will be with Yahweh.

From this understanding of the Context, we can already answer a couple of our questions.
·    Going to the Father” means Jesus journey through the cross and His exaltation to the Father’s right hand.
o   Why this qualifies His works statement in our text today, however, we don’t yet know.
·    And using the future tense, Jesus is referring to a time not before His exaltation at the very least.

So this is the context in which Jesus speaks John 14:12.
·    This context should influence any direction we take going forward.

BTW – John 14:12 is yet another encouragement for the disciples.
·    Not only will He come back for them, but it appears they will get to walk on water.
·    This will make for great fishing!

Now let’s move on to a word study to help us answer the other questions.
·    We need to know what “works” are and what “greater” signifies.


It will help to look at how else the word, in Greek “ergon”, is used by John.
·    Depending on context, it does have a variety of meanings.
o   Evil deeds (John 3:19-20)
o   Good deeds (John 3:21)
o   Revelation of God’s Glory/Light (John 2:11; 11:4; 9:3-5)
o   Belief that Jesus is of the Father (John 6:28-29)
o   John 6:28–29 (ESV) — 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.”

It is also helpful to know that “signs” and “works” are often used as synonyms in John.
·    We know this from John 6:30.
o   John 6:30 (ESV) — 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?

We also need to notice a very important contextual observation.
·    It appears that when “works” refers to miracles it does so in context of a warrant for belief.
·    Jesus’ works = Reasons to believe

Examples of “Jesus’ works = Reasons to believe”:
·    John 2:23 (ESV) — 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
·    John 7:31 (ESV) — 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

And so given the “signs/works” connection and the “works/believe” contextual consideration, we can see “works” as miracles in numerous examples similar to our text.
·    John 5:36 (ESV) — 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
·    John 10:25 (ESV) — 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,
·    John 10:37–38 (ESV) — 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

And importantly, in the immediate context of our text (vs. 12), verse 11 presents the same connections:
·    John 14:11 (ESV) — 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Once you have done some leg work yourself, it is also helpful to consult Lexicons and Dictionaries.
·    The BDAG (The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) tells us that in our context that “works” are “the deeds of God and Jesus, specifically miracles.”
·    The TDNT (The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) tell us that, In John, works are “individual acts of God” that “bear witness to Jesus and the salvation that he brings…” (cf. Jn. 5:20, 36; 7:3, 21; 10:25; 14:10ff.; 15:24).

So I think it is clear that when Jesus speaks of “works” in our text, He is referring to His miracles.
·    Miracles whose purpose was to authenticate His ministry and point to His origins from the Father and God’s glory.
·    This appears to be the answer to our 1st question.

The Greek word is “megas”.
·    Jesus used the “greater works” once before in John.
·    John 5:20–21 (ESV) — 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
·    The “greater” is apparently the “gives life to whom he will”.

Lexicon/Dictionary Definitions:
·    In our context the BDAG tells us the word is not making a quantitative claim but a qualitative claim.
·    In other words, not “more” works but “better” works.

So it appears that “greater works” are qualitatively better than the signs and wonders.
·    And it seems they might possibly pertain to the giving of life.
·    This appears to be the answer to our 2nd question.

So, right now it appears that believers should be walking on water and raising people from the dead.
·    At this point, we need to hold out that this is a possibility.
·    This doesn’t feel right, but feelings cannot be part of the equation.
·    We have to go where the text leads.
·    But, we are not done yet.
·    We need to do a couple of very important things before we can get to the bottom of Jesus’ words.

BTW – We can be tempted at this point to start asking implication/application questions.
·    If I am a “whoever believes” why can’t I “_________”?
·    We have to resist this until we exhausted our study and have understood the text as best we can.

We need to now move on to one of the most important study tools, Analogy of Faith.
·    You will see next week why this is so crucial to effective Bible study.