If Jesus said his followers would do even greater things than him, how come we’re not doing them? John 14: 12-14: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (RSV) This is the scripture to which the questioner refers. In these verses, Jesus is saying that he is doing the Father’s work and is bringing a message to the world.
You might be thinking that Jesus’ followers, if they were doing “something greater” than our Lord did, might do miracles that we can see, such as healing as Jesus or the Apostles did, or preventing tragedies. Even the Apostles didn’t do any healing that was superior to what Jesus did, so we shouldn’t expect to do or even see any outward miracles. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 asks the church “Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings?” His answer is NO. They did not feed 5,000 people from a small amount of food. No apostle ever duplicated walking on water without Jesus present. No apostle ever relocated themselves from one place to another instantaneously. No apostle healed a person at a far away distance; they had to be present. We have no record that even the apostles who were personally instructed by Jesus ever exhibited the power over nature as Jesus did, as when he calmed a raging Sea of Galilee.
The main command by Christ throughout His ministry, and specifically His last command, was to preach the Gospel. Notice John 14:12 does not say greater miracles, but rather greater works. The apostles and the church have done greater works– by carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth. When Jesus said that we would do “greater works than these,” he meant a more widespread ministry. The book of Acts shows that the church carried the gospel to the ends of the earth from Jerusalem. The apostles went out to the Gentiles and people accepted the gospel message in greater numbers than when Jesus was physically on earth. Jesus gave to the apostles and to us today the commission and authority to preach the gospel. The “greater” in quantity is in reference to the gospel message. We can do greater works, as in more abundant works, because the ministry of the Spirit is not limited to one person only (Jesus), or to one country, Israel, but now is preached throughout the world empowering all believers with His message.
There is no greater work done than Jesus dying for our sin. What Jesus gave to the apostles and to us today is the commission and authority to preach the gospel. Jesus is NOT saying we will do greater miracles than He did but that our effect on people, our influence will be greater. Fulfilling the Great Commission IS the greater work Jesus spoke of. The message was the death and resurrection of the savior and the commission is to preach the gospel and teach the people.
It will be an amazing day in earth’s history when Jeremiah 31:34 is true: “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (NIV)