12.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

The Lord now goes on to make a perhaps even more startling statement.  He starts off by saying “Amen, amen” or “most assuredly.”  This was a phrase He often used to emphasize the truth of what He was about to say.  Then He tells them that he who believes in Him will do the works that He did!  And not just the works that He did, but even greater works than He did.

If I was to take these words for myself, I could not help but live the rest of my life in disappointment.  For I would spend the rest of my time trying to do the works that Jesus Christ did, and I would find that I simply cannot do them.  I cannot give sight to the eyes of one who was born blind, as the Lord Jesus Christ did.  I cannot give strength to walk to the lame.  I cannot raise the dead.  I simply am not able to do these things.  Yet if we take these words in context, and realize that they were spoken, not to the believer of today, but rather to the twelve disciples, then we can understand the truth of what Christ was saying.

If we look at the book of Acts, we can see these same twelve men repeating many of the miracles the Jesus Christ Himself had worked when He was on earth.  These men, we need to realize, were very similar to what we call the President’s Cabinet in the United States.  He was the governor, and they were His appointed leaders.  As such, they were given the authority to do His works.  Moreover, they were able to do them even better if He returned to His Father than if He stayed on earth with them!  To understand the truth of this, we need to remember what the LORD said in Isaiah 66:1, “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool.”  The Lord was returning to the seat of His government.  That is why it was better for them that He be there.  From the seat of government, He could exert more authority than He could from on earth.

Some might question this view, though, asking how the twelve disciples worked greater works than Jesus Christ did once He returned to the Father?  Yet I believe if we would look at the book of Acts, we would see things like what is mentioned in Acts 5:15-16.

As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.  Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

Here we see that Peter’s shadow falling across them was all that it took to heal these people.  We might even say that this was a greater thing than even Jesus Christ did while He was on earth.  But even if some would argue about the relative greatness of this miracle to those the Lord did, we do not need to argue this point.  Rather, we can just say that we believe the Lord’s statement here, and know that these men did works once the Lord had returned to the Father that were even greater than those that He had done!

13.  “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Some today would suggest that this is the basis for prayer today.  They excitedly proclaim that whatever we ask in prayer God will give us.  Yet it does not take very long for us to learn that this does not work.  Moreover, there are times when I have asked for something that, looking back on it, I am glad that I did not receive it.  I prayed honestly at the time, thinking that what I was asking for would have been for the best, and yet looking back on it I see that that just wasn’t the case.  And so I am glad I don’t always get what I ask for.  And yet how can I not, when Christ made a promise such as this?

First of all, we need to remember who this promise was spoken to.  This promise was made to twelve men (minus Judas Iscariot,) the same twelve men to whom He had just given the promise that they would do greater works than He had done.  The Lord never made such a promise to you and me.  For me to take this promise to myself is like me trying to take the vows a woman made to her husband at their wedding and apply them to myself.  It is not honest, it is not right, and it does not work.  The Lord gave this promise to the twelve disciples, and they are the only ones who had the right to claim it for themselves.  This does not mean the Lord could not make this promise to others as well, but He did not do it here.  Here, these words apply only to these men.

Secondly, we need to realize what it means to ask for something in His name.  This does not mean that I just pray for anything I want, say “in Jesus’ name” at the end, and that means I have asked for these things in His name.  If that’s all it took to drag His name into something, then His name would be connected with all kinds of foolish and undesirable things!  But “in His name” means more than just saying certain words at the end of a prayer.  One’s name has to do with a person’s authority.  For example, my brother might order something from a certain store, and then receive word that that item has arrived and he could come to the store to pick it up.  If he was too busy to go, or if the store was much closer to where I worked and much less out of my way than his, he could send me to the store to pick up that item for him.  Now that item was ordered for Ben Johnson.  The store clerk might ask if I was Ben Johnson, and I would have to admit that I am not.  Yet I would tell him that I am his brother, and that I was there to pick up the item for him.  Well, that would mean that I was picking that item up in his name.  I was doing it in his place, and with his permission.  I was doing something for him rather than him doing it himself.  And I had his word, his authority, to do so.  So if the store clerk believed me, and if the store policy allowed people to pick up things in other people’s names, they would let me take the item for my brother.

In the same way, these disciples were asking for things in the Lord Jesus’ name.  They were asking for them with His permission, and in His place.  And what things did they have the right and permission to ask for?  I believe the same things that He had just talked about in verse 12: the works that He had done, and that they were going to do as well, and even greater works.  They had His permission to ask to be able to do any of these things, and they would get the authority to do them when they asked.

Yet the Lord Jesus never owned a car.  He never worked at a high-paying job in a successful, American company.  He never married a good, Christian wife.  Those who ask for these things in our day and imagine that they are asking for them “in Jesus’ name” and therefore should receive them according to this verse simply do not understand what the Lord was talking about.

14.  “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

This was a wonderful promise that He gave to His disciples!  Yet again, we need to realize that the word “anything” here has a context, and the context is the mighty works that He had done.  If I was in a souvenir shop and I told a child who was with me that I would buy him anything he wanted, he could not walk to the dealership next door and ask for a new car.  Although I said “anything,” the context of my statement was that I was speaking inside the souvenir shop.  Now that child could pick anything he found there.  He might find something more expensive than I anticipated he would find.  He might want something that I didn’t imagine he would want.  Yet if I was to keep my promise, I would have to buy it for him.  Yet I would be under no obligation to buy him a new car.  The word “anything” did not mean anything in the world, only anything that was in that shop.

In the same way, the Lord did not mean that the disciples could ask for anything they wanted.  They could not ask for wings to fly like a bird.  They could not ask for the ability to do things like Superman does, or even strength like Samson had had in the Bible.  They could only ask for the ability to do the mighty works that He had done.  And this promise told them that no matter what the mighty work He had done was that they asked to be able to repeat, that He would not go back on His promise and not let them.  He would give them the power when they asked, and they would be able to perform it!

15.  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Some people like to jump in here and teach that this is referring to the ten commandments.  Then, they try to bind these things upon the believer of today, insisting that we do things like keep the Sabbath day.  Yet what the Lord was asking of these men here had nothing to do with the ten commandments, or anything written in the Old Testament.  Nor does this have anything to do with us today.  The Lord had given these men, His disciples, certain commandments.  And, like any good employer would expect of those who worked for Him, He expected them to keep these commandments He had given.  He had just given them great power: the power to call upon Him to work any of the miracles that He had worked.  Yet here He reminds them that these must be worked in accordance with the commandments He had given them.  For example, He had told them in Matthew 10:5, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.”  Now if they were to follow His command, they would have to do this.  Unless He gave them a new command to override this, as He did in the case of Peter in Acts 10, they could not go to a Samaritan or a Gentile to do these mighty works.  Though they had permission to do them whenever they asked, they needed to do so according to the Lord’s commandments.  Yet they are not to do this just because He forced it on them, but rather because they loved Him.  Many there are who blame the disciples for not carrying the gospel to the Gentiles immediately.  They blame them for being prejudiced against other nations.  Yet these do not understand that these men did love the Lord Jesus Christ, and because they loved Him they could not do anything but keep His commandments.

16.  “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–

The Lord now further reveals to them how He is going to help them to keep His commandments and to use this power He had given them to do the same works as He had done, and even greater.  He is going to ask the Father (the Greek word here is erotao, which means to ask, not to pray,) and He will give them another Helper.  This word is the Greek parakletos.  This comes from two Greek words.  Para means “beside,” as when we draw two PARAllel lines next to each other on a sheet of paper.  Kletos is a word derived from the Greek verb kaleo or “to call.”  Yet “calling” can have two meanings.  Many assign to this word the meaning of “to bid or invite.”  Yet this is only one meaning of this word, and the verb kaleo only means this in about a third of its occurrences.  The other meaning of “to call” is to position or designate someone as something, as when we call someone to be President.  We don’t invite him to anything, but we position or designate him as the President by voting him into office.  So the parakletos is one who is positioned beside someone.  We get our English word “paraclete” from this Greek word.  A “paraclete” is someone who will stand beside you and speak on your behalf in court.  Another word we use for this is an “advocate,” which is derived from a Latin word that has the same meaning.  A paraclete is one who is positioned beside you to help you and for your aid and comfort.

Now at the present time, the Lord Jesus Christ was with these men as their parakletos or their advocate.  Now He could easily do that with these twelve men.  But what would happen when the number of the disciples swelled to twelve hundred?  What about twelve thousand?  Or twelve million?  We can see that, as the number of believers grew, the Lord Jesus Christ being personally the advocate of each of them would have become increasingly impossible.  Yet now He was returning to His Father, and sending Another to be their Advocate.  This one would not leave them, but would abide with them forever.  “Forever” here is the Greek “for the eon,” and means that He would stay with them throughout God’s flow of things to the earth: His coming Kingdom.

17.  “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

This reveals Who this other Paraclete would be: the Spirit of truth, God’s Holy Spirit.  This explains how the disciples were able to receive such power as the Lord was here giving them and yet were able to use it properly and not abuse it.  Imagine giving mere men the ability to speak a word and others would die, as Peter did in Acts 5:4 & 9 to Ananias and Sapphira!  There is a saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Well, these men had absolute power.  What would keep them from becoming corrupt?  The answer is that the Paraclete would do so.  He would constantly be beside them, helping them and aiding them in using the amazing, divine power that they had been given.  That is why they would never abuse the ability to strike a man dead.  That is how they could do the same works that the Lord Jesus did, and even greater, and yet not dishonor Him or misuse that power.  They had an Advocate who was constantly beside them to help them use the authority they had been given in exactly the way God desired it to be used.  What a great position was theirs!

The world cannot receive the Spirit of truth.  It cannot because it does not see Him or know Him.  Indeed, how few know the truth that comes only from God!  Those who do not know the truth cannot receive the Spirit of truth.  Yet these men knew Him.  For even then He dwelt beside (not with) them in the form of Jesus Christ, Whose every actions were done in conjunction with the Spirit’s power.  Moreover, He would be in them in that time to come when the Lord would leave them and send Him to take His place beside them.

18.  “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

The Lord would not leave them orphans.  He would not leave them as disciples without a Master.  That is how all the false Messiahs had left their followers up until this time.  When they died and were taken from their followers, their followers were simply orphans.  They were disciples without a teacher.  Yet that is not how the Lord would leave His disciples.  When He left, He would come back to them through His Spirit!

19.  “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.  Because I live, you will live also.

This was less than twenty-four hours from the time that the Lord Jesus was laid in His tomb.  From that point on, the world saw Him no more.  He was gone, disappeared, hidden from them from then on.  Yet the disciples would see Him.  He would not be hidden from them.  They would see Him, because He would be alive!  And because He lives, they would live also.  These men, these eleven disciples, have been dead now for almost two thousand years.  Yet Jesus Christ is not dead!  And because He lives, we can know that each one of these men who were His followers will live again as well.  And this is a truth that each one of us can also take for ourselves: that because He lives, we too shall live.  Praise God for the wonder of resurrection!

20.  “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

We might say that primarily this refers to the time when they saw Him after the resurrection.  Then, they would know that He was in the Father.  Moreover, they would realize that they were in Him, and He in them.  This happened at the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and identified Himself with these men and dwelt inside them, and they were in Him.  Yet this also looks forward to the great day in the future when these men will live because Christ lives, as was mentioned in verse 19.  Then, indeed, they would know the truth about His being in the Father.  Then, indeed, He would be in them and they in Him.

It would be difficult to apply this to us today.  Although the Lord is in us if we have had faith in Him, yet He is not in us in anything like the way He was in the disciples.  “In” when it is used with the plural often means “among.”  And the Lord through the Holy Spirit was among these men doing those mighty works He has been talking about in this passage.  To say that He is among us in this same way would simply not be true.  To act like this is true of us today, we would have to spiritualize this to the point where it would be almost meaningless.  Yet someday He will be among us, even as He was among them.