In John 15:22-24 Jesus referred to the fact that the Jews had no excuse for their sin of rejecting him because of his words that he had spoken to them. He also referred to the fact that their rejection of him was in spite of the fact that he had done works which none other did. Let us briefly consider in what way his works were unlike those of any others.
First, we need to consider the amount of the works that Jesus did. Peter would later describe Jesus as one anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power, and one who went about doing good (Acts 10:38). His life was a constant display of divine power in behalf of needy men. Near the end of his first book, John would say, “Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30), thus indicating that a complete record of all the miracles of the Lord was not being recorded in spite of the fact that a record of a lot of them is recorded. And in an obvious hyperbolic statement at the end of this book, John said, “there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). No one performed the amount of miracles that Jesus did.
Second, we need to consider the variety of the works that Jesus did. Think of the kind of miracles that he performed. Jesus, himself, once referred to the partial variety when he said, “Go tell John the things which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up” (Matt. 11:4-5). Matthew tells us that along with the Lord’s teaching and preaching, there was the “healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people” (Matt. 11:23). The Lord’s power was amazing. He did not even have to be present at the site where his miraculous power was activated (Matt. 8:5-13). And in addition to dealing with bodily sickness and infirmity, the Lord’s power was used to terminate a storm at sea (Mark 4:35-41), to walk on water (Matt. 14:22-33), to wither a tree (Matt. 21:18-19), to instantly increase food supply (John 6:1-14), and even to raise the dead (John 11:1-44)! Such an array of power the world had never seen!
Third, we need to consider the degree of the works that Jesus did. Of course, in one sense, it would seem that the raising of the dead would be the extreme measure of power displayed by Jesus or others. But, just here, however, I am concerned about the Lord’s activity regarding demons. The Lord’s compassion regarding human distress is evidenced in several specific instances of divine cure involving the casting out of demons, a specific kind of malady evidently providentially arranged for the express purpose of demonstrating in the first century the power of God over the power of Satan, and, thus, the power of light over darkness, and the power of truth over error. It seems that God arranged for a unique kind of confrontation between his own power and that of the devil in order to further convince men in the first century of the credentials of the Christ and truth of the gospel. Demon possession was a horrible thing causing tremendous distress and/or the loss of one’s freedom (cf. Mark 9:22; Matt. 8:28-34) in response to which even some of those not able to overcome the demons on occasion attempted to do so anyway (Matt. 12:27; Acts 19:13-16). Demons were responsible agents who knew who Christ was and who knew of their eventual destiny, and divine power easily disposed of them (Matt. 8:28-29; Acts 16:16-18).
Fourth, we need to consider the reason for the works that Jesus did. Jesus said that the very works that the Father had given him to accomplish bore witness to the fact that the Father had sent him (John 5:36). The writer, John, declared that the reason for the inclusion in his first book of the record of some of the Lord’s miracles was so that “ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name” (John 20:31). This was a part of the uniqueness of the Lord’s miracles when compared to the miracles performed by others before him and by others after him. No mere man’s miracles had ever been utilized to support the personal claim for the divinity of the person performing the miracle. Never! This sets the Lord’s miracles apart even from those of the apostles. The “signs of the apostle” (2 Cor. 12:12) set the apostles apart from everyone else who in the first century had miracle working power (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4-11), but the Lord’s miracles were used to prove that he was God in flesh!
Fifth and finally, we need to consider the climax of the works that Jesus did. The Lord once expressed the profound truth that he had received “commandment” from the Father regarding his right to lay down his life and to take it up again (John 10:17-18). This is an astonishing revelation. When Jesus died he did not die by physical exhaustion. Before releasing his spirit, he cried with a loud voice, something impossible for a person worn out to do (Matt. 27:50). No one simply took his life from him as Peter on Pentecost declared (Acts 2:23). Jesus surrendered his life on his own in the midst of an attempt by others to take it from him. He laid down his own life. But then, by the commandment of God, Jesus had the right to take it again. In fact, Jesus had said that the Father loved him because of this situation: he was going to lay down his life so that he might take it again (John 10:17)! No one ever in the history of the raised dead had ever by their own authority come forth from the grave. But Jesus did!
Paul would later write to the Roman brethren that by the resurrection of Christ, in a special sense God declared him to be his own Son. Speaking of Jesus, Paul wrote, “who was declared the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). The Lord’s own resurrection was the product of power and of his own holiness. Having known no sin (2 Cor. 5:21), he was able to overcome the grave (Heb. 2:14-15; Rom. 4:25). In a sense, this was the climax to all the other miracles he had performed.