‘I go to prepare a place’ and ‘greater works’ in John 14: video discussion

The reading for Easter 5 in Year A is John 14.1–14, and it includes two really challenging texts.

James and Ian explore why Jesus’ promise that he ‘goes to prepare a place for us’ is not about life after death, and try to make sense of the prediction that Jesus’ followers will ‘do greater works’ than him.

Come and join the discussion!




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28 thoughts on “‘I go to prepare a place’ and ‘greater works’ in John 14: video discussion”

  1. ‘Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 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. 12 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. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.’

    Oh dear, I still tend not to agree with your understanding. Im not convinced that the ‘many rooms/abidances’ is about Jesus/God living in us. But turning to ‘greater works’. Jesus refers to believing based on the works he has done. This logically refers to his healings, walking on water, foreknowledge etc – demonstrable works that God was working through him. Therefore ‘greater things’ must refer to similar works. It is also linked to Jesus returning to the Father, which later on Jesus says is good ‘because the Father is greater than I’ (comments on that would be appreciated). And that return is also clearly linked to the giving of the Spirit to all believers, not just the motely crew currently following him. Even the verses re And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified is linked to these works, and we know that Jesus often glorified the Father by performing miracles in front of the people (the last miracle before this passage was the raising of Lazarus, when Jesus specifically referred to God’s glory). Whilst the salvation/giving of eternal life may be part of that, that’s not all.

    I therefore tend to think that ‘greater things’ does refer to the numerous ways God is glorified – the sort of miracles Jesus did but by many more people, not just Jesus anymore, and throughout the world and times. Is that not greater?


    • Yes, that is greater in number. But Jesus does not say ‘greater in number’. He says ‘greater.’

      Jesus raised the dead. Can you point me to someone who has done greater?

      Jesus walked on water. Can you point me to someone who has done greater?

      Jesus fed 5,000 miraculously. Can you point me to someone who has done greater?

      Do you see the problem here?

      • He also doesnt say ‘greater in power’ which seems to be how you are framing it. My question is, assuming that these words or similar were spoken by Jesus to his first followers, what did they understand him to mean?

        Given the context of ‘works’ I suspect it was as how I understand. It depends on how one understands/defines ‘greater’. I agree it’s hard to think of any miracle more ‘powerful’ than for example raising the dead, but if more are raised due to the Spirit being literally throughout the world, is that not ‘greater’ in the bigger picture rather than through just one man? Though in Acts when the disciples were praying together, it appears the room physically shook with power – I dont remember that happening previously, or people being able to walk out of jail. Even the multi-language speaking at Pentecost appears not to have happened previously. Or Peter or Paul’s shadow possibly healing people!

        So I dont really see a problem with my understanding.

  2. We are the “rooms”. So preached a former pastor after completing a Masters at Durham Uni, on the Gospel of John.

    • perhaps, but I still find the imagery odd – Jesus says he has to leave, then come back and then take us with him to that place. But if the place is ‘us’ then we’re already here!

        • He might have said, “In my display cabinet I have many trophies.”
          A prophetic statement. His disciples did not know, at that time, He was referring to them.
          It’s a bit like the statement in Revelation, ‘on his head were many crowns.”
          One wonders what they are until one remembers things like, “What is the crown…is it not you” and “you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown”.
          We are the rooms, the crowns, the trophies. We are the angels going up and down on the Son of Man.

          • “He might have said, “In my display cabinet I have many trophies.”

            Breathtaking allusion, comment, Steve. Astonishingly, head-shaking in humbling wonder.

            We are not angels, though, are we; not even in metaphor?
            Otherwise, the only place we’d find them is going up and down in hospital corridors.

          • I knew you would not like me suggesting we are angels. My thinking is this: if we are crowns to be cast before Him. We can yet see ourselves as messengers, nay angels, going up and down on the Son of Man. I believe He sees us as such. The angels are also the Sevenfold Spirit going to and fro on the Son of Man. My picture encapsulates the concept. See the Sheepfold post.

      • PC Peter –

        When Jesus talks about ‘coming back’, in John 14, He may mean three things :

        (1). A coming back at the resurrection;

        (2). A coming back at the ‘Parousia’ (cf. 1 Thess. 4:15-17);

        (3). A coming back in the power of the holy Spirit, as the ‘Parakletos’. Jesus states in John 16:25, that His discourses on the ‘Parakletos’ mentioned in John 14-16, have been couched in symbolic, allegorical or figurative language (Gk. paroimiais). Hence, the Parakletos in John 14 is probably the exalted Jesus coming back to be with His disciples in the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 3:17-18; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:45). In 1 John 2:1, Jesus is explicitly called the ‘Parakletos’.

  3. I have John Gunstone’s book published in 1974 entitled “Greater Things Than These.” The subtitle is “A personal account of the charismatic movement.” This rather echoes a remark made in the video discussion. A challenging passage certainly. But in many ways a comforting and encouraging passage. We are called to do Jesus’ work. By the Holy Spirit we are empowered to do so. So let’s not hold back….

  4. Curiously, I was thinking yesterday about I conversation I had with someone a while back about the word ‘mansions’ in 14:2 – (I found that this was Tyndale’s choice and hence KJV and NKJV). Knowing the link between monē and menō in 15:4. If one translates the latter as ‘abide’, then perhaps a good translation for monē would be ‘abode’ (and making another slight adjustment): “in my father’s household are many abodes.”

    If the start of John 14 has the idea of us living in Christ, then John 14:23 has the idea of Christ – and the Father – making their abode (monē again) with anyone who “loves him and keeps his word.”

  5. And Another Exegetical One :

    Christ said in John 14:2, that He goes to prepare a place (Gk. topos) for us. ‘Topos’ can figuratively mean ‘a position’, or ‘a station’. My Bible notes claim that this could mean that Christ goes to prepare positional roles in His earthly millennial Kingdom, according to degrees of faithfulness amongst His followers (cf. Luke19:12-26; Mark 10:35-40).

  6. Ian.
    16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
    16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth shall not shall be damned.
    16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
    any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. These and numerous others too many to number.
    Rienhard Bonke has a vidio of a person who had been dead for some days raised from the dead some years ago.
    Also, George Fox, it was recorded that “the place shook” as he preached a sermon. Sorry do not still have the book I read it in.

  7. Ian
    Jesus did not say” greater in number” You know better than anyone that it is difficult to argue from silence. What is your authority for the reading of the mind of Christ? Chaps on the number 48 bus have no difficulty accepting the written word.


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