The phrase Think Bigger: what does it suggest to you? Money? Ambition? A bigger business-plan? I’m not necessarily negating any of those things: merely suggesting that at root they’re all the same. Think bigger means “Align your expectations with your imagination.” It’s something that Jesus seemed to suggest to the disciples in the group of farewell speeches in John’s gospel (John 14-17).
John 14: 8-14 Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Even greater works? Greater than Jesus? Jesus seems to use the model of his own life and work and then says: Think bigger. Think even more than that.
There’s an old couplet about perspective: “Two prisoners looked though prison bars: one saw mud the other stars.” Where are you looking? Are you fixated on small concerns?
Or are you fixed on Jesus and where he is leading? Remember. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, not minding the shame and is now set down on the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such sufferings of sinners against himself lest you become weary and lose heart.” (Heb. 12:1,2)
We get weary and lose heart. Why? Because of stuff coming at us. OK, but consider him who endured so much…and who is now through it, victorious, ruling. Jesus defeated all that restricts us: he created the possibility of new perspectives. Think bigger. Think of me, think of heaven.
He was always like that. His first word to his disciples was “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Don’t get caught up in your 9-5 occupations. Think bigger than that.
Augustine knew that. “You have made us for yourself Oh God. Our hearts our restless until they find their peace in You.” Life is continual aspiration simply because we are created for big things, for God himself.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
― Shel Silverstein
The answer is a person. Jesus helped the disciples set their sights on eternal goals rather than human achievements. I remember a Kid’s programme with the tagline: “Anything is possible in the next half hour…”
You become what you think about. “As a man thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs) . So Jesus challenged those thinking processes: “Which of you says in his heart…”
Jesus gave great promises to His disciples. Nathaniel: “A true Israelite in whom there is no guile.” Thomas: “Put your hand and touch my wounds.” He said to Peter, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Revelation and insight such as you show is what creates my people. Go for it. And when Peter asked to walk on water he said Come. Think bigger. You will do the works that I do.
And Paul seems to push it even further Eph. 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do superabundantly work within us to do far over and above all that we ask or think – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams.”
Jesus continually sent His disciples into increasingly challenging situation -lambs among wolves! -to help them develop this Think Big perspective. And they came back rejoicing that the spirits were subject to them (Lk 9 and 10). You will do the works that I do….and even more so!
So what are these “greater works” which those who believe in Jesus Christ will do? This claim seems daring, but the difficulty evaporates when one realizes that these ‘greater works’ are still works of Jesus, now carried out from his exalted position with the Father through his commissioned, faithful followers. Because Jesus is now with the Father, we can expect to do greater works than even Jesus did: on the basis of his once-for-all death on the cross, and in answer to believing prayer for all that is necessary to accomplish the mission Jesus never relinquished.
The key point that is sometimes overlooked is the phrase “Because I Go to My Father”. There is something new here that makes all the talk about “greater works” become not a crazy presumption but a stone-cold fact. Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father providing intercession for us as our Mediator through prayers in His name. That’s the claim of the Scripture. Your prayers, your life and your potential is underwritten, endorsed and empowered by His prayers. And, secondly, all followers of Jesus are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Look at the passage in context: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it. If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.”
Once Jesus is exalted, we are into a new scheme of things. Prayer and intimacy and prayer-answer are in a new level of relationship in the power of the Spirit, and what is ‘greater’ is that these works will be done by regular people in whom the power of Christ has taken up residence following his glorification, people who have aligned their own desires and purposes with God and working in obedience.
We are partnering with God. Think big.