A Vision of Greater Things

A Vision of Greater Things

        One of the most exhilarating moments recorded in the gospels occurred when Nathaniel met Jesus Christ; he exclaimed: “… Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49, ESV). Jesus’ response was timeless: “… You will see greater things than these” (John 1:50). In American slang, for emphasis, Jesus might have sounded like this: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”  

        “You will see greater things” is the finest summary of a vision statement. Any vision statement that merits this description will never become stale and will always point to “greater things” in the future. Jesus’ promise, “You will see greater things,” can guide the formulation of vision statements for Christian leaders as well as Christian organizations.  

            What did Jesus mean by “greater things?” Did Jesus refer to His own many miracles or His disciples’ miracles, His teachings, His arrest and crucifixion, His resurrection, His ascension, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his followers in Jerusalem, the bold witness of His disciples in Jerusalem and outside Jerusalem, the martyrdom of Jesus’ disciples, the explosive growth of the church under the leadership of His disciples both in Jerusalem and in faraway places among Gentiles, or something more? 

        After His resurrection, Jesus said to Peter: "… Feed my lambs ...Tend my sheep ... Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17, ESV). Collectively, this is a vision of “greater things” that Jesus wanted Peter to “see.” But, based on Peter’s responses to Jesus that day, he did not get it, although, Jesus said it three times, and in three different ways for emphasis. This illustrates how we may miss it, when Jesus shows us greater things. 

We may miss it when Jesus wants to show us greater things.

        However, later on, in Acts 4, we see Peter gets it. It is recorded, “And as they [Peter and John] were speaking to the people, the priests and the captains of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them ... And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of men came to about five thousand” (Acts 4:1-4). This was merely one example of the “greater things” Peter would see again and again. But, that was not all. 

        Troubled by the massive public response to Peter and John, the high priest and other leaders said to themselves, “’... let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’ So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:17-22). Both Peter and John resisted; no earthly authority was going to stop them from pursuing their bright and beautiful vision of “greater things.” 

        Today, to Christian leaders everywhere, Jesus repeats his promise to Nathaniel: “You will see greater things.” Are you seeing greater things? If not, why not? 

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Paul Swamidass

Paul Swamidass, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. INTEREST: Leadership training for leaders of Christian organizations. He has published some articles on Christian leadership and contributed to some Christian-leadership training in India in partnership with The Kerusso Institute for Global Leaders