So there was this guy named Nathan (His real name was Nathanael, but everyone named Nathanael nowadays goes by Nathan, or Nate). When he first heard about Jesus right away he was like, “Um, no. That guy is from Nazareth and we all know that nothing good comes from that nothing town.”
But somehow Jesus knew what he was saying. And he totally called him out on it. “I heard what you said, Nate,” he told him. And Nate’s response? “Wait, what? You heard? No way because you were way over there and I was way over here under this fig tree.” But Jesus said, “You’re shocked that I could see into your heart and know what you were saying? Brother, have I got news for you…”
“You will see greater things than that.”
Jesus tells Nate – and anyone else within earshot – that he was about to see some amazing things. These things were signs that pointed to who Jesus was: the Messiah, the Son of God come to earth. And right then the writer of the Gospel of John takes us into this incredible story of Jesus performing these amazing signs, one greater than the other, leading up to the raising of his dead friend Lazarus! And then, while eating a final meal with his disciples – and we think that good ole Nate was probably there – he tells them that he’s going away, he’s dying, and he’s going to raise again and go be with the Father. But he says, “Don’t worry! This isn’t the end…”
“Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”
And that’s where our real story begins. Not in the signs and wonders performed by Jesus, but in the presence and power of Jesus that has been with us everyday for the last 2000 plus years! We are direct descendants of that last supper dialogue. We are the ones called on to do greater things. Are you ready?
Let’s zoom back from that 2000 year landscape and take a brief 365 day jaunt. What was last year like for you? For many it was harrowing and horrible. For others it was amazing and astounding. Each year is like that, full of ups and downs.
For me personally, it was the best career year ever. I made more opportunities than I’ve ever had. I wrote more than I ever have. I even started my own LLC. Whodathunkit? I experienced the highest ups…but also some of the most depressing downs. Health issues in my family and a few bumps in the road weren’t so fun.
What can last year teach us about this year? If the words of Jesus are true we should anticipate “greater things.” We should be looking for him to take us to higher heights and newer places. We should be looking for opportunities to do greater things in this new year.
The first step is to evaluate what you did last year. Then see how it can be outdone or improved this year. What areas were lacking? What days did you let slip by without making meaning in life? What ups prepared you for the downs, and how can you carry that into the new year?
Next, how can God be greater than anything else in your life this coming year?
Greater than any struggle or rest.
Greater than any tragedy or triumph.
Greater than any loss or gain.
Greater than any win or loss.
When we put our selves on the little side of that “greater than” symbol and God on the other, no matter what comes our way we know we can overcome.
That name – Nathanael – names are important in the Bible, and guess what Nathanael means? “God has given.” The words of Job tell us that God “gives and takes away” (Job 1:21). God gives, but really he gives me exactly what I need and takes away what is in the way.
Last year each of you were given some great things by God, but you also lost some things. This year, the things you will get may be greater than anything you got last year. But the loss may also be greater. The bigger the ups, the downer the downs. But when God is the giver we can be sure that no matter how high or how low we go, he is always there. As we focus on him, he will be greater in our sights.
What greater thing are you preparing for in the new year? How can you achieve greater things in your personal life, your professional life, and your spiritual life?