TENTH "VERILY, VERILY."
THE GLORY AND POWER OF THE NEW MAN.
The ninth reiterated Amen brought before us the humiliation of the Son of Man, and showed that even in His humiliation He is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. For God dwells in the humble heart. Lowliness and humiliation therefore are glory, because they give God room to show Himself in man. The tenth "Verily, Verily," tells us what this glory is. The Glory of the Son or New Man is to reveal the Father. And He does this in virtue of the Father's indwelling, even as those in whom He dwells, in virtue of His indwelling, glorify Him, and so themselves are glorified.
This is our Lord's testimony here:—"He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto the Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:9-13). This is the New Man's glory,—to manifest God to man, and to do His works in the power of union and communion with Him. The perfect example is the well-beloved Son. Our calling, as His members, is to manifest Him as He has manifested the Father.
Now here, as in all that marks the New Man, He stands in contrast to the old. Old Adam ever delights, not only to live according to his own will, but to show himself, by displaying any gift he may have received, as if it were his own. His final manifestation, we are told, will be, that "as God he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thess. 2:4). This is what he strives to do in all. Even in God's temple, and service, he can "show himself," and take the credit of any good that may be wrought through him, forgetting that all things are of God, and that of His own we give Him (1 Chron. 29:14, 16). The New Man's glory is that he reveals God; that the Father who dwelleth in him, He doeth the works; that therefore those who see him see the Father, because he is in the Father, and the Father is in him. In a word, he lives here to manifest the Father. For "no man hath seen God at any time;" therefore "the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). And Christ's members live for this same end; for in this, "as He is, so are we" (1 John 4:17); set to shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15); to "show forth His virtues" (1 Pet. 2:9, see margin, Gr. τὰς ἀρετάς); that through His sons the world may know God. The Holy Scriptures are indeed His witness to the Church (John 5:39). But the Church is His "epistle known and read of all" (2 Cor. 3:3). This is her calling, to reveal the Father to a world which knows Him not, and to do His works, though men regard them not.
All this is brought out here. Our Lord first speaks of Himself, then of believers. And what He says of believers, that "they shall do His works," is His proof that they are in Him, and He in them, even as He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him.
1. First our Lord speaks of Himself. He declares that He is the manifestation of the Father: this is His glory; and that His works are not His own, but the Father's: this is the secret of His power.
The thought is repeated several times:—"He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. How sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak, I speak not of myself, but the Father, that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake" (John 14:9-11).
Such is the truth touching the Son, confessed by all the Church. She knows that God is light (1 John 1:5), and love (1 John 4:8, 16), and spirit (John 4:24); and that without measure all these may be revealed, for they have been so revealed, in One at least who walked here in flesh in our likeness;—yea, that wonderful as is the revelation in outward nature, where God shows something of Himself in the broad earth, for "His righteousness is as the great mountains;" something of Himself in the wide sea, for "His judgments are a great deep" (Psalm 36:6); something of Himself in the quiet heavens, with their innumerable lights; something of Himself in the creature forms, in the eagle's eye, in the lion's force, in the lamb's gentleness, and in the ox's strength and patient toil for others; and not less in the vine and oil, which make man's face to shine, and in the bread-corn, which strengtheneth man's heart; so that Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory; yet that the revelation of Himself in the flesh of Christ is infinitely greater than in all these, for He is the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person (Heb. 1:3). Man is the true Shekinah (1 Cor. 11:7), the very dwelling place of God; and God has been and shall be seen in him, as He cannot be in any other. Even the mystery of the Trinity shines out in man, as we see it nowhere else, manifesting will, reason, and love, in one spirit; seen above all in Him who said here, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," in whose ways man has seen the living God. It may be well to pause here for a moment, and to consider this great sight, for there is none other like it in the universe.
(i) First then "God is light" (1 John 1:5). All who have eyes know something of light, and what it discovers and works on every hand. Light swallows up darkness; light shows things as they are; light frees us from mistakes, and fills our hearts with gladness. From its source in heaven it comes to earth to change all things. It comes on all alike, not spoilt by the foulest thing it falls on; and sooner or later, more or less, it changes all on which it comes. It comes on the young plant, and gives it new colour. It comes on the sour fruit, and both hue and taste at once begin to change gradually. It is not a thing we can call our own. We may shut it out perhaps; we cannot shut it up, as something which is our own property. It shines from east to west, free as the air we breathe, the inheritance of all the sons of men. And "God is light," and His Son reveals Him as light, that is as truth, which comes from heaven to show us all things as they are; thus to free us from the misconceptions, both of God and of ourselves, which the darkness of the serpent's lie has thrown around us. When we think what Christ has done, in banishing idols and exposing lies,—how He has transformed dark earthly souls, so that, like the pastures under the sun, "they shout for joy and also sing" (Psalm 65:13),—we may see that He is light, "as of a morning without clouds, or as the clear shining after rain" (2 Sam. 23:4). He that hath seen Him, hath seen the Father. "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is to see the sun" (Eccl. 11:7).
(ii) But "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16), as well as light. And as love too He is revealed in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the revelation we most needed. For man had ceased to think of God as one who was loving, and therefore ever to be loved. The lie was in our hearts, that He was grudging. He might be power: He might be light. But in man's eyes He was no longer love. He might destroy and judge: He really cared not for us. This was the lie which ruined man. And therefore creatures were turned to. Man needed help, and the powers around or within him, the powers of nature, or of mind, or gold, seemed to promise help, and were therefore worshipped everywhere. Let souls forget that God is love, and they will ever bow to some of the forces, in heaven or earth, which threaten evil or which promise good. The worship of powers is man's resource when he has lost the faith that God is love. But "God is love," and the Son came forth to show Him as He is. By His holy incarnation, by His meekness, by His words and deeds of love; by His stooping to share our weakness, and our pains, and death, with us; in cleansing lepers, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, raising the dead; in overcoming every form of Satan's power; in meeting lost ones with perfect grace; in sitting with publicans and sinners, whom the world cast out as lost; in taking little children into His arms; in His compassion for mourners; and not less in His rebukes of sin, with words like a two-edged sword (Rev. 2:12; 19:15), smiting the lies which hold His people captive;—for "love is strong as death: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement heat" (Cant. 8:6);—in every act He manifested God, showing that "many waters cannot quench love" (Cant. 8:7), and that, even when He is "a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29), "God is love." For indeed love is a consuming fire. Blessed be His name who has thus unveiled Him, and shown that love is the king and lord of all; able as fire to melt and unite what is unchanged by light, to form bright crystals out of our clay, and again to transform these into what is still brighter and more enduring. Those who have seen how crystals of alum are by fire brought out of Whitby shale, and how these crystals again by fire are transmuted into aluminium, have had before them one of nature's witnesses of the changes which in a higher sphere God is working as a consuming fire. The Son has thus revealed Him, by whose all-transforming love dark souls in every age have been made new, to bear His image evermore.
(iii) Further, "God is spirit" (John 4:24), that is a power unseen but felt, like the wind which moves the forest and the sea (Isa. 7:2; Psalm 107:25); (Note: "Spirit" and "wind" are the same word, both in Greek and Hebrew.) which fills all vessels and all spaces, if only they are void; pressing with greatest force into those which are most empty and exhausted; coming sometimes like the tempestuous gale, which rends the rocks (1 Kings 19:11); and at others as the balmy breath which makes the waters flow (Psalm 147:18); now blowing upon the gardens, that their spices may flow out (Cant. 4:16); and again breathing upon the sick, as the breath of life (Gen. 6:17), that they may live (Ezek. 37:9). Such is the wind, whose sound we hear, though we know not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth (John 3:8); in all its operations the appointed witness of Him who works unseen, because He is a spirit. As such the Son reveals Him; now breaking hearts, which are like rocks; now moving them as the trees of the wood are moved by the wind; casting the mighty from their seats, yet filling the empty with good things, and breathing on the sick and dead that they may live; at last sending His spirit as a mighty rushing wind, to make His carnal disciples henceforth like Him, ministers not of a word only, but also of a spirit. In all He showed that God is spirit, as well as light and love, and therefore that what He approves can be no mere empty form or outward letter, but a spirit which like Himself can fill all forms, while in itself it is not form but spirit. Before Christ came to show us God, man's thought of cleanness or uncleanness was that it was something from without, by the observance or neglect of which we might be approved or unaccepted. The Son revealed that "God is spirit,"—that to the pure all things are pure (Titus 1:15),—that nothing from without can really defile a man (Mark 7:15); that the unclean thing is the selfish spirit; the clean thing, the spirit of love, that is God's own spirit come again to dwell in man; and that in this spirit His elect must be as salt and light (Matt. 5:13, 14); as salt sinking into that which it preserves, yet not corrupted by it; as light coming even upon a dunghill, without contracting defilement from it; that therefore any outward form or place or circumstance is secondary, and even unimportant; the vital question being, Is the spirit in me loving and true, or is it false and self-loving? If loving and true, it is of God, and therefore pure: if self-loving and untrue, it is of hell, and therefore must be unclean. This is the revelation which the Son has made; and he that hath seen Him hath seen the Father. God is spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Such is the glory of the Son. He is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15). Love, light, and power, or as we say, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,—the Trinity in Unity,—shine out in Him, for He is love; and, as was well said of old, "Ubi Amor, ibi Trinitas." (Note: Readers of Augustine will remember the ixth, xth, and xith books of his De Trinitate.)
2. Our Lord goes on then immediately to speak of those "who believe on Him," who share with Him this glory, of doing His works, and thus revealing God. The words are so wondrous that they seem almost too high for us: "Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father; and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:12, 13). Two things are brought out here: first, the glory of believers; and then, the spring or secret of it.
(i) The glory is to do Christ's works: "Verily, Verily, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." Believers, like Him, and by Him, are to be prophets, priests, and kings: as prophets, to give light; as priests, to manifest love; as kings, to rule and show power. For He was prophet, priest, and king; and "He hath made us kings and priests" (Rev. 1:6), to "open men's eyes and turn them from darkness to light" (Acts 26:18); in a word, to do the works He did, and to manifest Him, as He has manifested God. And as in nature the sun and air, the one with its heat and light, the other with its breath of life, which is drunk in by all creatures, are both rulers and servants of all, influencing all, whether high or low, and also giving to all something of their universal bounty, so do believers, with their love and light and spirit, which are not their own, but Christ's, both rule and serve all, after His pattern. Gentle but mighty as the light and air, which rest upon the fields and make them bud, is the work of God's elect, though men esteem it not.
But is it not the grossest presumption to think that men can do Christ's works? Does not at least the thought that we can be priests, and offer sacrifices for others, as Christ did, interfere directly with His priesthood? Some think so. Since the Church's fall and division for her sins,—not least for the dreadful abuse of the precious gifts committed to her, by which her bread became as poison to so many of her children,—there have been two schools of doctrine among professing Christians, as to the offices and relations of the Lord. The first speaks thus: Any work or office, held by Christ, cannot be held by us. It usurps His rights if we pretend to share them. The other, which is the old doctrine, answers thus: If the Incarnation means anything, if Christ and His Church are really one body, all Christ's offices, first held and exercised by Him, on behalf of men, must likewise be held and shared by His members, because He lives in them, just as they apprehend that for which they are apprehended. The former view, which I feel assured is a mistake, arises from a misconception of the first great truth of "Christ for us," to the denial of the still greater truth of "Christ in us," and "We His members." The latter opens the "riches of the glory of the mystery, which is now revealed, which is Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:26, 27). This latter is the Church's faith, which, however abused or caricatured, cannot be denied without sore loss to the deniers. For this faith confesses the Incarnation, that the Lord still dwells in flesh and blood, and that because He dwells in us, though in ourselves we can do nothing, we can yet do all things through Christ, who is the power in us (1 Cor. 1:24; Phil. 4:13); for it is not we that live, but Christ in us (Gal. 2:20); and because He is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8), if He live in us, He will yet do His proper works, in and through those who grow up out of self to live in Him. Is it presumption to believe this? Is not this faith rather the cure for all presumption? Is not this faith too the defence from all Antichrists? If Christ fill us, we want no more. If Christ does not dwell in and support us, we must have something else instead of Him, that is some Antichrist. (Note: Elliot, in his Horae Apocalypticae, p. 839, has sufficiently shown that Antichrist means primarily "in the place of Christ," rather than "against Christ"; e.g. ἀνθύπατος, (Acts 13:7,) the deputy or pro-consul; ἀντιβασιλεὺς, (Dionys. Halicarn.,) a viceroy; ἀντίδουλος, (Strabo,) one in the place of a slave; ἀντιδιάκονος, (Strabo,) one in the place of a servant; ἀντιεπίσκοπος, (Gregor. Naz.,) a vice-bishop, or one acting for him.) Therefore we believe in Him and His indwelling, that by Him we may yield ourselves to God, so that, as He said, "the works which He did, we may do also."
What were His works? First, He was prophet. All felt, as they heard His words, that "a great prophet was risen up among them" (Luke 7:16; Matt. 21:46; John 4:19; 9:17). The Gospels witness how He fulfilled this office. "He opened His mouth and taught them" (Matt. 5:2). "He spake the word as they were able to bear it" (Mark 4:33). He witnessed for the truth; but, as with the prophets who had gone before, Him whom God had sent Israel believed not. For to be a prophet is to see and know the mind of God; to speak the truth, which the Church is trampling under foot; to witness for God against those who in His name are corrupting the treasure committed to them; to tell the elect that for their sins they shall be judged even as the world; that privileges give no immunity from judgment, but rather add to the condemnation of those who abuse God's house and name to work evil; yet to comfort the mourners, and preach glad tidings to the meek, and heal the sick and brokenhearted. Is such work easy? A martyr answers, "Which of the prophets have not your fathers slain?" (Acts 7:52). A prophet is, and always will be, a victim. Yet to this are believers called, just as they grow up into Christ; indeed this is one of the first works of those, who having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed and therefore have I spoken (2 Cor. 4:13; Acts 4:20), cannot but speak what they hear of God, and who therefore are always rejected by the blind guides, who cry, Peace, Peace, when there is no peace (Jer. 6:14). Christ witnessed for the truth, as a prophet sent from God. He that believeth on Him must do the like, according to his measure.
Are all then called to speak? Is not prophecy a gift? Does not an apostle ask, "Are all prophets?" (1 Cor. 12:29). The Lord's words here answer the question. He says, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." It is according to a man's faith that he can do Christ's works. He is our life; and all His members by grace are called to live His life. But the measure in which we are dead to self and live in Him, is the measure in which He works in each. Thus to one is given more, to another less, though all may say, "All things are ours, for we are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3:23). For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge through the same Spirit; to another, prophecy; to another, divers kinds of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every one severally as He will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ (1 Cor. 12:8-12). To every one is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Eph. 4:7). While therefore some have special gifts, all are called to fulfil the will and work of Him who is their life. All have not tongues. But by that which every joint supplieth, the body maketh increase (Eph. 4:16); and those who may not speak in the Church (1 Cor. 14:34, 35; 1 Tim. 2:11, 12), may, and must, if they believe, each in their own sphere, by deed and word, speak to teach and comfort those around; and thus, though not prophets to the Church, be prophets in their own house; for he or she prophesieth who speaketh to edification, and comfort, and consolation (1 Cor. 14:3).
But Christ is also priest; and as such His work is to intercede, and ever to keep alive that fire, by which alone men's sacrifices can lose their first and carnal form, and so ascend to God from His altar (Lev. 6:12, 13; Luke 12:49). And though, strictly speaking, this office commenced in resurrection,—"for if He were on earth, He should not be a priest" (Heb. 8:4),—yet inasmuch as by His coming through baptism to opened heavens, which was a mystic death and resurrection, and even more by His raising up the life of God in man, through His emptying of Himself and being made in the likeness of men, He manifested the eternal life, and proved by conquests over death that He was indeed the Son of God, in this relation He was ever priest, for "He testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb. 7:17); and again, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee" (Acts 13:33). For He is made priest, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life (Heb. 7:16). Thus in this eternal life, even whilst in the flesh, we see His priestly acts; kindling in men's hearts the fire of God's spirit (Matt. 3:11); forgiving sins; discerning between the clean and unclean; having compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way (Heb. 4:25; 5:1, 2); and at last offering Himself as a sacrifice for all. Thus He touched the leper; thus He cleansed the temple; thus He spoke for man to God; making intercession for transgressors; first for His elect, that they might be with Him and see His glory (John 17:24); and then for all, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). And to this work also He calls believers, that having been consecrated with Him they may by Him also become priests to serve and help others. Every fresh grace received is but an added lamp in the tabernacle of God, to burn and shine around us, though men regard it not.
Oh, blessed and holy service to which we are all called. But who fulfils it? Who now by the same ministry of the Holy Ghost and fire is standing beside the altar of the Lord? Who cleanses the temple? Who sacrifices for others? Who offers and eats the offerings made by fire unto the Lord (Lev. 21:21, 22)? Who touches lepers? Who carries others' sins, and bears their sorrows? Who makes intercession for the transgressors? As to our calling we are priests; for all in Christ are priests. In Him, whether babes, young men, or fathers, we are blessed with all spiritual blessings, dead and risen, and sitting in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-6). And yet all the while in our experience we may be carnal (1 Cor. 3:1, 3), and know little or nothing of the heavenly fire, which makes us partakers of the sufferings of the Lord. For Christ may be and is in us, when we yet know nothing of a daily death, and heaven is not opened, and the priestly life, though it is ours by right, is not yet apprehended; just as, if we are Christ's, the prophetic life also is in us from the first, though it may be unperceived and unexercised. Still in their measure all believers must be priests in Christ; all must offer praise to God, that is the calves of their lips, giving thanks to His name; to do good also, and to communicate, they cannot forget (Heb. 13:15; Hosea 14:2), even though "the daily sacrifice be taken away" (Dan. 8:11); for the Truth Himself has said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."
There is yet more glory. Christ is also king, to show God's power, until He hath put all enemies under His feet; and here too, as He is, so are we in this world. If we suffer with Him, we shall reign (2 Tim. 2:12); and even now we are, not only priests, but rulers with Him. The elect must be both light and love, but no less power also; ruling themselves, ruling their lusts, thus overcoming the world, and prepared in due time with Christ to rule all things; one over five cities, another over ten (Luke 19:17, 19); not by violence and wrath, but in the might of that love which beareth all things, and so conquers all. For strength is proved in what a man can bear without complaining. And love has royal wisdom too, like Solomon of old, to discern at once between the true mother and her who falsely claims to be so; to know that she who consents to division, though she call herself true mother, is but a liar; that she is true mother who will give up all rather than divide her son (1 Kings 3:16-28). And the New Man receives this power to judge even in his humiliation, loosing and binding like a king (Matt. 16:19), though his kingdom is not of this world, and speaking words to govern hearts, which cannot be disobeyed without peril. The world, the flesh, and the devil may fight against him; but he must conquer all; for his work is to "subdue and have dominion," as God's vicegerent in the world, and the promise is, that "all things shall be put in subjection under him" (Heb. 2:7, 8). Like the Master, he may be mocked and slain on earth: his royalty will be seen when the saints shall judge the world.
Now in all these ways, as prophet, priest, and king, as truth, and love, and power, he that believeth must do Christ's works, and show Him as He has shown the Father; nay, He even says, "Greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12); for the spiritual works since Christ's resurrection are greater, as the heaven is higher than the earth, than the works wrought upon the flesh by prophets of old, and even by the Lord in the days of His flesh among His fleshly people. For which is greater, to give cleanness to leprous flesh, or to a sin-stained soul,—to heal palsy of the outward man, or to cure that inward helplessness which makes man cry, "The good I would, that do I not; but the evil which I would not, that I do" (Rom. 7:19),—to restore the life of this world to a dead body, or undying life to a ruined soul? So long as we are in the flesh, the fleshly work may seem the greater. The spirit-world will teach us better to measure what is small and great with God.
(ii) It remains to notice the secret of this power. Three points are dwelt on by the Lord,—first the spring, then the means, then the reason of it. The spring is Christ Himself: He does the works in us. Twice does He repeat here, "That will I do," and again immediately, "I will do it" (John 14:13, 14). For He is our life. It is He who works. Without Him we can do nothing. If we are prophets, priests, or kings, it is only because the one great Prophet, Priest, and King, is working in us by His might to do His will. We are simply vessels. But faith and prayer draw all from Him. "He that believeth on Him shall do His works" (John 14:12); "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do" (John 14:13). Faith gives spiritual title-deeds, which make us sharers in all the possessions of our Father, and which pour into our lap a wealth of all things, which it is our joy again to give to all. All therefore that Christ did and reached, we may do and reach, if only, and just in proportion as, we can believe in Him. He is the pattern of the capacities and capabilities of man as God would have him. And God would have man one with Him; and faith is the link and means of this union. To believe is to live by. (Note: This is the etymology of the word "believe," as given by Richardson in his Dictionary.) Then all things may be done by man; for "all things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27), and therefore "all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:21). Therefore the Lord bids us, "Have God's faith" (Mark 11:22, see margin, ἔχετε πίσιν θεοῦ); for faith, like love, must be of God, an element of His very nature, which comes with the seed which quickens His life and nature in us, which therefore enables us, after the pattern of Abraham, to be "like unto Him whom we believe, even God, who calleth the things which are not as though they were" (Rom. 4:17, see margin, (κατέναντι οὕ ἐπίστευσε, κ.τ.λ.). "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." Therefore "we understand that by faith the worlds were formed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:1, 3). (Note: I believe that the translation given above is the correct one. I find that Dr. Upham, in his Treatise on Divine Union, (Part II. chap. i. § 6,) adopts it as the true sense of this passage.) God spake, and doubted not, but believed that those things which He had said should come to pass; therefore He had whatsoever He said (Mark 11:23). And we are called to the same faith, by it to do like works, because it is God which worketh in us to will and to do, of His good pleasure.
Therefore our Lord says here, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do"—"Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name," that is in my nature; for things with God are called according to their nature. We ask in Christ's name, not when at the end of some carnal and selfish request we say, "This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ;" but when we pray according to His nature, which is love, which seeketh not its own, but only the will of God and the good of all creatures. Such asking is the cry of His own spirit in our hearts, hungering for God and for the things of God, that we may be transformed into His likeness. Christ's own prayers reveal it all. His cry was, "Glorify thy name: glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 12:28; 17:5). In a word His askings were for God. Thus asking in His name or nature, we must receive, and so receiving we must bless all; for nothing comes upon a man from God, without opening the way for the like blessing sooner or later to descend on all. Such prayer is almighty, because it is according to God's will. It is Christ's own prayer in us; and Him the Father heareth always (John 11:42).
Our Lord yet adds the reason for the "greater works," which should be done by those who believe. The reason is, "Because I go unto the Father" (John 14:12). It is this going to the Father which gives all power in heaven and earth, over spirits as well as over flesh and blood. For by going to the Father man returns to his true source. There had already been preliminary steps leading to this blessed end. The opening of heaven at baptism had witnessed that man in Christ was acceptable to God. But His going to the Father did far more. It was man's perfect return to God, by which he came back to reunion with Him from whom He came forth. Even while in the womb of fallen nature man is quickened with his Father's life; but, to see his Father and to do His works, he must go forth from the dark and narrow bounds of the "lowest parts of the earth" (Psalm 139:15), in which he has been quickened and begotten. And Christ's so going to the Father is man's return to his long-lost glory; for humanity is one; and His going to the Father is our return to the source and spring of all. Man in Him now has all power in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). We are sharers with Him in all that He receives as victor over death. From this point therefore our Lord goes on to speak of the Spirit, which He would send as the witness of His glory, enabling us in deed and word to testify of Him (see John 14, 15, 16). Well might He say then, "Greater works than these shall ye do, because I go unto the Father."
Such is the glory of believers. They reveal the Lord, as He revealed the Father. They reveal Him, because He lives in them, and their works are His, who is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Therefore they do His works. But where now is He thus revealed? Priests without fire, prophets without a vision, kings without power, are on every hand. The Church and world are full of them. But where is a living Christ revealed? Is that a revelation of Him, which is ceaselessly saying, "Here is Christ,"—"We are the body of Christ,"—while yet it shows none of His works, but only imitations, all in the flesh, of that which is not of the flesh, but of the spirit; which quenches any light beyond its own, and calls the darkness light; which stifles love, and casts out brethren, and still says, "The Lord be glorified" (Isa. 66:5); and which by earthly might would do the works of God's spirit, and judge all who still sigh and cry for better things? These are not His works. They are not even such a broken reflection of Him, as some unquiet river gives of the sun, when it bears his confused and distorted image upon its moving bosom. Alas! Too much that is in the Church is not even a reflection of the things of Christ, but rather the direct working of that evil spirit, which would turn God's house into a den of thieves, and make the very city of God the stronghold of his adversary. What are all the strifes, and falsehoods, and uncleannesses, which are rife among the bearers of Christ's name, but witnesses that Satan has entered into and defiled the Lord's inheritance. But if he, in his usurped dominion, can do such works, and set his mark on those led captive by him (Rev. 13:16), what may not be accomplished in us by our rightful Lord, who has all power in heaven and earth, if only we yield in all things to Him. When we think what He has wrought in some, who once were weak as we are now,—how He has made His light to shine out of their broken earthly vessels, even in days of gross darkness,—when we remember He is ever the same, and that His joy is to save and bless, and that He has promised, "Verily, Verily, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also,"—what may we not expect, if only we so abide in Him, that it is no more we that live, but Christ who liveth in us? He still dwells in man, though He is ever the stone which the builders disallow. He cannot fail. He yet has living members, proved and tried even as silver is tried. In them even to the end He can and will be glorified. And the trial of their faith, much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though carnal men esteem it not, shall be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
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