August 28, 2011: Even Greater Than Jesus?

Posted on : Aug 25th, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Do you ever feel “small?”  Do you ever feel like your life has no, or little, significance?  How does your life compare to Jesus’?

This Sunday we’re going to focus on those questions.  Or more accurately, on Jesus’ answers to those questions.

In John’s Gospel there is a large section (chapter 14, verse 1 thru chapter 17, verse 26) that is called “Jesus’ farewell discourse and prayer.”  This “farewell discourse” is an amazingly intimate conversation Jesus has with his followers right before his own death.  It’s one of those last “heart to heart” conversations that everyone yearns to have before the death of a loved one.  It’s that “one last,” that one “final” chance to tell someone how much you love them and perhaps to leave them with final words of love, thanks, blessing or request.

This intimate, revealing conversation that Jesus has comes at a really awkward moment in the disciple’s life together.  Jesus had just finished the greatest act of humility known in his culture, he washed the disciples feet.  Then he said to them “No longer do I call you servants but friends.  YOU are MY Friends.”  Then Jesus had to break the bad news to them.  One of the Twelve was going to betray him big time.  OUCH!  Everyone was deeply hurt.  As is often the case in life, the ones who were least likely to betray Jesus were the first to ask, “Is it I?”  Nope.  It was Judas.

So having shared their last supper together, and having to endure the reality that one of their own was going to betray Jesus, Jesus begins this “farewell discourse,” this “farewell conversation.”  He tells the disciples, “Do not be troubled; do not be disheartened with what is about to happen.  YOU have FAITH IN God; and you have FAITH IN ME AS WELL.”  Then Jesus says, “In God’s house there are many places to dwell.  There is room for everyone.  I’m going to prepare a place for you.  Then, I’m going to come back to take you with me, so that where I am, there you may be as well.”  And Jesus concludes by telling them, “You know the way that leads to where I am going.”

But Thomas responds from a total guy-perspective.  “No,” he says to Jesus, “we don’t know where you’re going so how can we know how to get there.”  Thomas may be the first pre-GPS guy that ever asks for directions!!!

Nice try, Thomas!  But Jesus wasn’t talking about “directions to somewhere,” Jesus was talking about finding “direction in our lives.”

Jesus says, “I myself am the Way

I am Truth

and I am life.

Follow “my Way.”

Then Jesus tosses us a real zinger!  He says, “The truth of the matter is, anyone who has faith in me will do the works I do – and GREATER WORKS BESIDES.”

Now that is a commissioning!  That is one heck of a farewell conversation!  Jesus says to the disciples and all of us who follow “his Way,” “You, my friends, will do even greater works than I!”

That doesn’t seem possible, does it?  You, me, all of us will do even greater works than Jesus?  The meaning of “even greater” is certainly open to debate, but what Jesus is telling the disciples and us is, “our lives are important and what we do with them as followers of God’s Way – Jesus – matters.  In fact it makes a huge difference in the world.

This Sunday we’re going to look at one such person.  An African American southern preacher, who was born “a boy” (a racially derogatory term applied to African American men) and became one of the greatest leaders in “the Way of Jesus” in the world today.  He and Gandhi are probably the two most known humanitarian and civil rights leaders of the modern era.  How wonderful it is that this Sunday, we will celebrate the dedication of a National Memorial in Washington, DC to honor Dr. King’s national and international contributions and vision for all to enjoy a life of freedom, opportunity, and justice.

Jesus was right!  What we do with our lives (the direction we seek to follow) does make a huge difference in bringing about the beloved realm of God!  More on Sunday.



This Sunday’s Scripture

John 14: 1-13

(Jesus said,) “Don’t let you hearts be troubled.

You have faith in God;

have faith in me as well.

In God’s house there are many dwelling places; otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you?

I am indeed going to prepare a place you, and then I will come back to take you with me, so that where I am, there you may be as well.

You know the way that leads to where I am going.”

Thomas replied, “But we don’t know where you’re going.  How can we know the way?”

Jesus told him,

“I myself am the Way –

I am Truth,

and I am Life.

No one comes to God but through me.

If you really knew me, you would know God also.

From this point on, you know God and you have seen God.”

Philip said, “Rabbi, show us God, then we will be content.” Jesus said to him, “Have you’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t know me?” Whoever has seen me has seen God. So how can you ask, ‘Show us you God?’ Don’t you believe that I am in God and God is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. It is God, living in me, who crafts each word into a divine act. Believe me that I am in God and God is in me, or else believe because of the works I do.”

The truth of the matter is, anyone who has faith in me will do the works I do – and greater works besides.  Why?  Because whatever you ask in my name I will do, so that God may be glorified in me.

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