Philip couldn't see God even though He was standing in front of him! "Show us the Father", he said, and Jesus replied: "What do you see? See me and see the Father". The Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father - they are one, a unity. Jesus encourages Philip to believe in him. In other words to let his whole life and understanding be rooted in him, to sit in his presence. Though Jesus in front of Philip was fully man, he was also fully God, and therefore for Philip to be there with Jesus was the best place that he could be. Jesus acknowledged that this might be hard for Philip to grasp, so he invited Philip to at least take stock of the works Jesus had been doing: cleansing lepers, restoring sight, pronouncing forgiveness and so on.
And Jesus says abide in me, rest in the truth of who I am ... and you will do what I have been doing. In fact you will do greater works than these! This statement of v12 is our motto verse for the year. Its a big statement.
We can dig on the word 'works', in Greek 'ergo'. When Jesus healed the lame person by the pool, it was celebrated as a great work (same word 'ergo'). When John the Baptist enquired about Jesus, the reply was that the blind see, the lame walk, and thus look at the works (same word). Last week we saw how Paul wrote that the fivefold-ministries are given to equip us for works of service (same word). In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul writes we are saved by grace (through faith), not by works, but in v10 says that we were created for good works prepared by God (both are the same word). Finally we looked at the classic James 2 faith versus deeds passage last November, of faith put into practice - again it uses the same word 'ergo'.
Put simply, the works of Jesus of healing/forgiving/releasing are the works that Jesus enables us to do. The works that Paul (and James) write to the Christians to encourage them to excel at ... are all the same Greek 'ergo' word, the same 'ergo' that Jesus said we would do greater than he did!
How is that possible? How can little old you or me do greater than Jesus? Perhaps it is numerically - there is one Jesus, lots of us. Perhaps it is geographically - Jesus was confined to Palestine, we as Christians believe all over the world. Perhaps it is just a mystery, but no matter what, let us take Jesus at His word ... that we will do greater!
For Jesus goes on in v13-14 and invites us to 'Ask'. Ask anything, and you will receive! So do we want to see greater works across Ely? Yes please - so let us ask! Do we want greater capacity in the church for mission and ministry? Yes please - so let us ask! From our exercise last week we discovered that among the callings of Apostle/Evangelist/Prophetic/Shepherd/Teacher we have a bit less Evangelist in us than the others ... so let us ask for more Evangelists among us! Remember you can ask anything in His name and he will do it.
Now no serious Christian thinks 'ask for a Porsche', for the 'in His name' surely means in the heartbeat of God, i.e. ask in God's reality, not our human reality that is so easily corrupted or twisted. This brings us back to abiding in Jesus. In His presence we get to hear His heartbeat ... to ask in His name.
In v16-17 and onwards Jesus reassures that He will not leave them as orphans. He will send from Himself the Spirit (and so we now see the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit altogether as a unity). The Spirit will walk alongside us, as our friend, helper, and advocate. V17 talks of receiving Him. The world cannot do this because it doesn't see or know God. Yet in Jesus we do know. Placing our lives in Jesus we can receive, and have the Spirit with us, in fact in us: once again God's capacity in us!
And surely by having our whole lives and understanding sit in Jesus, abiding in Him, and His presence with us, we can then ask anything and do the greater works that Jesus talked of. That is why we as a church look forward, to continue the works of Jesus, wanting to see Kingdom Life across the city. Jesus through us will do His works, just like He did when physically present. In fact, they will be even greater works!