And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. ~ John 20:30-31
According to the apostle John, the signs which are recorded, which Jesus did, were written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
The miracles of Jesus are unique in that they are a witness to his deity. Yet, there are some who teach that Christians can arbitrarily exercise spiritual authority, and do the very same things which Jesus did.
Those who make such claim justify their position by citing the words of Jesus found in John 14:12: 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.
If it were true that Christians have such dominion, so as to arbitrarily do the same miraculous things which Jesus did, and even surpass the greatness of the works of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus would cease to be unique as a testament of his deity.
The words of Jesus in John 14:12 (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) are a reference to the continuation of his ministry through his people.
The greater works of which Jesus spoke is a reference to that which is administered from Christ now that he is exalted.
Before his crucifixion, Jesus did not baptize anyone in the Holy Spirit. It was only after his death and resurrection that Christ poured out his Spirit.
39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) ~ John 7:37-39
Notice that the outpouring of the Spirit, which was yet to happen, would be for those who believed on Jesus. This is consistent with the words of John regarding the signs – But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Now consider the words of the apostle Peter in the book of Acts:
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. ~Acts 2:22-24
Peter says that the miracles, wonders, and signs, were accomplished because God did them by Jesus. Peter then says the following later in his sermon:
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. ~ Acts 2:32-33
Jesus repeatedly referred to the Holy Spirit as the promise of the Father. Jesus did not pour out the Spirit until after he was glorified.
Throughout the book of Acts, we see examples of people receiving the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the hands of the apostles. This is something that Jesus never did in his earthly ministry. Yet the apostles did not have this power on their own. They had this power because they were ministers for Christ, and Christ was working through them to minister the Spirit to others.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit came from the exalted Christ at the right hand of God, and was administered by his servants, namely the apostles, and this is an example of the greater works which Jesus said those who believed on him would do.
Now, consider the words of Jesus regarding the greater works within its context:
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
12 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.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. ~ John 14:10-18
Jesus speaks of the greater works within the context of his being glorified, their asking, and his ministry to them by the Holy Spirit.
Now consider the following:
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them THE WORKS which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, which proceedeth from the Father, HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME:
27 And YE ALSO SHALL BEAR WITNESS, because ye have been with me from the beginning. ~ John 15:22-27
In his earthly ministry, the works of Jesus gave witness that he had been sent by God:
If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. ~ John 10:37-38
The greater works are the continuation of his ministry, now that he has been exalted, and not some random proof that Christians can “out miracle” the Lord of Glory. Any exploit done in the name of Jesus is done by the power of Jesus Christ for his glory and the glory of God the Father.
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus BEGAN both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen… ~ Acts 1:1-2
The gospels testify of all that Jesus began to do. The book of Acts shows us the continuation of the ministry of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of his people.
As Christians, we do not have the power in and of ourselves to do the works of Jesus. However, in his name, and by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit whom he has given to us, Christ can and will work through those who yield themselves to him.
It is his power, not ours, and therefore to the glory and honor of his name, and not ours, that the works of Jesus continue.