Highways to Zion
RESURRECTION POWER AND THE CROSS
Some of the things Jesus said to his disciples are perplexing to say the very least. At the Last Supper He told them that whoever believed in Him would do the same, and even greater works as He did (John 13:12). If I recall correctly, He raised the dead, healed the sick and the lame, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, cast out demons, walked on water, calmed storms, and changed water into wine, none of which I have seen anyone do lately.
Why don’t we do these things today? Is it because we don’t have enough faith, as Jesus said to the disciples who were unable to cast a demon out of a boy and wondered why (Matt. 17:14-21)? I think we are on dangerous ground when we begin to quantify faith. The question of whether we have "enough" faith for something can lead to discouragement, as the implication is that the answer is no, or striving for more faith which takes faith out of the realm of faith and puts it into the realm of works.
At the same time, I will say that I know my level of available faith does ebb and flow. Sometimes I have a hard time just mustering the faith to ask for something in prayer, let alone step out on a limb to act. At other times, like when I have seen God do something, my faith surges.
Perhaps that is why the early apostles were able to do such works of power – they had seen God do something. They were eyewitnesses of the greatest miracle in the history of the world, and it was so compelling that they were completely dead to themselves. Self-consciousness was totally out of the picture. Their faith was fully available, fully functional.
Perhaps, also, that is why Jesus taught the necessity of taking up our cross daily to follow Him (Luke 9:23). The purpose of self-denial is not just so we are (or look) humble. Death to self is required if we want to live in resurrection power. Resurrection only operates on dead things. Live things don’t need to be resurrected.
Jesus is our example. In Philippians 2, Paul writes that Jesus emptied Himself and lived a life of obedience. His obedience led directly to His physical death on the cross, but it also involved self denial on a day-to-day basis. He lived His life here on earth by faith, just as we are called to do.
Later in Philippians, Paul said he counted everything as rubbish in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ (3:8). He wanted to know Him in "the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (3:10). May we come to the place where we are truly walking in obedience, regarding Christ as everything and ourselves as nothing, and following Him in the way of the cross. Then we may find ourselves living in resurrection life and, as a by-product, doing those greater things Jesus talked about.