Who was your favorite teacher?
Think back to your high school and college years. I’m sure there are 2 or 3 teachers/professors who had a profound impact on you. They didn’t just tell you what to think, they taught you how to think. They shared their stories, their insights, their knowledge, even their lives with you. You view the world differently because of them.
You wouldn’t be the person you are today without them.
Their influence doesn’t stop in the classroom. Their influence reaches the farthest reaches of the world because of you. You take their teachings with you wherever you go. Their influence is in fact greater now than could ever be while you were still in the classroom. I’m sure there are things they taught you that didn’t even make sense until later in life. Now that you have more experience and understanding, you really get what they were trying to do.
A good teacher’s influence is only constrained to the white board, the worksheets, the tests, or the four cinder block walls while the students are in the classroom.
In John 14:12, Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
Jesus is not saying that they will do more impressive, more astonishing works than he did. How could anything be more amazing than raising Lazarus from the dead? What Jesus means is that a new era is dawning. At his resurrection everything he has said and done will make sense. While Jesus was performing his earthly ministry, people were unable to understand why he said and did certain things. But with the resurrection, all was made clear.
The disciples, Jesus says, will now be able to do what Jesus did and even greater things precisely because he is leaving them. He will be with the Father. But he is sending his Spirit to dwell in the believers. And whatever they ask in his name, according to his will, he will do.
Look through the book of Acts. Countless more people accepted God’s salvation after Jesus left than did during Jesus’ ministry. The gospel had much greater reach and influence in the post-resurrection era than it did before.
These “greater works” could not be accomplished while Jesus was still with the disciples just as a teacher’s influence cannot spread while the students are sitting in their desks.