Jesus said, “my Father is greater than I.” What does this verse mean?

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“Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).

Any inferiority the statement in John 14:28 seems to assign to Christ should be understood with reference to His incarnation, for after the crucifixion God highly exalted Him, and gave Him a name that is above every name (Phil. 2:9). Yet, Jesus had earthly limitations (Mark 13:32). He was subject to such things as hunger, thirst, growth (both physical and mental), pain, disease, and temptation yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15; Luke 2:52). Therefore, because of His human nature the Father was greater than Him.

With reference to His pre-incarnation state, the Scriptures declare that Christ “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6; John 1:1–3; 1 Cor. 15:27, 28). But, He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:9; John 1). And, even in His incarnation Jesus declared that He was one with the Father (John 10:30).

Unlike Adam and Eve, who made an attempt to seize equality with God (Genesis 3:5), Jesus, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47) was “made in the likeness of men.” He humbled Himself even unto death – the death of the cross. When Jesus affirmed, “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), He was not disclaiming His divine nature; rather, He was asserting that He had subjected Himself voluntarily to the Father’s will. And in that sense the Father was greater than Himself.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

 


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