You have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
This is another verse that the Watchtower and others denying the divinity of Christ select from the body of Scriptures as a whole to support their teaching.
What actually did Jesus mean by saying his Father was greater than Himself? To arrive at a correct understanding we need to compare this verse with other Scriptures speaking of the person of Jesus to receive further light.
Firstly we need to note that Jesus does not say Jehovah is better than I. The word used here in John 14:28 is “meizon”, greater, and is a is a term relative to position. Better is relative to nature.
By position, the Father is greater than the Son; by nature THEY ARE BOTH ONE.
This can be seen by comparing the verse with Heb. 1.4. In John 14.28, if the meaning of the verse had been intended to be better by nature then the word “kreitton” would have been used, as in Heb. 1.4, which describes Jesus as being better than the angels.
Why is the Father spoken of as greater in position here.
Light is thrown upon this in Phil. 2 verses 6 to 8.
In order to take our place and make a full and complete atonement for our sin, Jesus had to completely identify with us by becoming fully human; in the process divesting Himself totally of His Divine glory and power and taking upon Himself the frailty of our human nature, to take the place that we deserved upon the cross.
The steps down that Jesus took are shown in Phillipians 2 from verse 7.
He made Himself of no reputation, took the form of a slave and the likeness and appearance of a men, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death. Even the death of the cross.
This then is the position upon earth that it was necessary for Jesus to willingly take in order to die as our Saviour.
If as the Son of Man Jesus Christ was truly man by nature …. Then, as the Son of God, He was also truly God by nature.
To summarise –
John 14.28 is a description of Jesus position as a servant and not a comparison of nature or quality, unlike Hebrews 1.4 where the word “kreitton” is used to make a qualitative distinction.
To see further Scriptures relating to the nature of Jesus see the posting “ The Divinity of Jesus” on this website dated 28th December 2011.