Have you ever wanted God to reveal himself to you? I remember times when I experienced turmoil and had doubts about my faith and asked God to reveal himself to me. I desperately wanted to experience God personally, so I could give myself a memorial to rest my faith in. I constantly prayed in Jesus’ name, holding onto the promise of John 14:13-14. Although these feelings and prayers are sincere, they are an affront against the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our faith cannot rest in a deep and emotional experience but in the resurrected Lord who died for our sins.
The Glory Experience
Often, when I would justify my prayers for God’s personal disclosure, I would go to Exodus 33. In Exodus 33, Yahweh, through Moses, has just rebuked the Israelites for their idolatry and has commanded them to rid themselves of their idols. Moses pleads with Yahweh to show him his glory. Yahweh passes himself before the face of Moses while Moses stands in a cleft of a rock. In the same way, Philip asks to see the Father. He says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (Jn 14:8). Jesus responds, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). Jesus Christ is the Great I am, the ἐγώ εἰμι (For more of an explanation, read this article). Seeing Jesus is seeing the Father.
John begins his whole book by establishing the fact that Jesus is God. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Further, John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1 describes to us that Jesus is God who became flesh. Throughout the rest of the book, the miracles verify this fact. Jesus Christ is the Great I am who discloses the Father (Jn 1:18; 8:58). He is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). He is the radiance of the glory of God and perfectly represents the Father (Heb 1:1-3). Jesus did not count his divine authority a thing to be held onto, but gave it up to become a servant. Jesus loved his own to the death (Jn 13:1; Read further here). Jesus gave up his divine authority, lived under the law perfectly, died as a curse on a tree, and rose from the dead, so that we could experience resurrection life to the praise of God’s glorious grace in the Beloved!
When we want to see God and all of his glory, we have to look no further than the Scriptures and the cross of Christ. Jesus said to Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father … I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (Jn 14:9-10). As I looked for a personal experience with the Father, I learned to see the Son in his Word as all-consuming and all-satisfying. Jesus and his Word is enough until we see Him fully in glory. In light of Jesus being the ἐγώ εἰμι, the Great I am, every single person will be held accountable. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). Therefore, we should believe in Jesus on account of who he is and what he has done (Jn 14:11).
Greater Works than these
For all those who believe, Jesus promises that they will do the works he has done. Further, he will do greater works than Jesus, since he is going to the Father (Jn 14:12). When I was a young believer, I remember praying, “Father, you have promised we would do greater works than you. In Jesus name, give me the power to cast out demons, heal people, and raise the dead.” When I read this verse, I took it literally that we will do greater works than the resurrected Son of God who:
- turned water into wine (Jn 2:1-11).
- read the mind of the women of Samaria (Jn 14:8).
- healed the official’s son (Jn 4:46-54).
- healed the man crippled for 38 years (Jn 5:1–9).
- fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish (Jn 5: 1–14).
- walked on water (Jn 6:19).
- healed a man born blind (Jn 9:1-7).
- raised Lazarus from the dead after four days in the grave (Jn 11:43–44). The table was extracted from a sermon produced by John Piper
But It is hard to imagine that we could do more spectacular or more miraculous works than Jesus himself, so how is this passage to be understood?
Jesus explains how this passage is to be understood. He says, “Because I am going to the Father” (Jn 14:12). The works believers will perform will be greater because Jesus is going to the Father. John 16:7 says, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I did not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” The Holy Spirit will come in power and enable the disciples to be witnesses to the whole world. The eschatological age of the Spirit of the Risen Christ has come. The Spirit has come to bring about conviction concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. He has brought about the new birth, taking our old hearts of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, we would be a valley of dry bones, enslaved by sin and the law. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are a part of the kingdom of His beloved Son, being set free by the Son and living by grace through faith. These greater works, in John 14:12, are not based on quality but on quantity and number. All of our good works point back to the One who has done greater (quality) works.
In Jesus’ Name
When I used to pray in Jesus name, it was as if I believed I had this power to control or manipulate spiritual forces. I prayed for healing. I prayed that the spirit of lust and depression would flee in Jesus’ name. What I did not understand is that it was not the name of Jesus that had power, but Jesus himself. Justin Taylor, renowned author, says, “The power in the name is the person behind the name” (To read further, click here). Various passages in Scripture enlightens us on the conditions to praying in Jesus’ name and what it means to pray in His name. It is by the name of Jesus that one receives life and becomes saved (Jn 20:31; Acts 4:12). Everything a believer does, whether in word or deed, should be in the name of Jesus (Col 3:17). Jesus Christ has ascended to the right hand of God; one day, everyone who has believed by the name of Jesus will praise his name (Phil 2:11-12). It is through the blood of Jesus we have peace with God and draw near to his holy throne (Rom 5:1-2; Heb 10:19-20). Jesus Christ is currently seated at the right hand of God and intercedes for us (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25). Therefore, when we pray in the name of Jesus, we should abide in Jesus and his words (Jn 15:17), we should pray according to the will of God (1 Jn 5:14-15), and we should believe as if it has already been accomplished (Mk 11:24). The use of the name of Jesus in prayer is not a magical incantation, but an exaltation of Christ and his will. To pray in Jesus name is to pray according to his will and for his glory, having faith he will accomplish it.
As I have matured in my faith and properly understood how God works supernaturally through his Spirit, I have humbly learned to understand Scripture in its context. I still seek God to work supernaturally in my heart and life, I still seek to take part in these greater works Jesus has called us too, and I still pray for God to work supernaturally in Jesus’ name, but I now understand what it means to do these things biblically. When we want to see God as Moses and Philip did, we can look to Jesus Christ who is the radiance of his glory and perfectly reveals the Father! Let us take the advice of the author of Hebrews, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”