John 14:28 commentary

John 14:28 commentary DEFAULT

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.

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(28) Ye have heard how I said unto you.—Better, Ye heard how I said unto you.(See John 14:19-20.)

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice.—True love seeks another’s good and not its own. Their sorrow at His departure was at its root selfish, as all sorrow for those who depart to be with God is, however little we think so. His departure would be the return to the glory of the Father’s throne, and was matter for joy and not for sorrow. For them also it was expedient. (Comp. Notes on John 16:6-7.)

For my Father is greater than I.—These words have naturally formed the subject of controversy in every period of the Church’s history, between those who deny and those who accept the truth that the Son is “very God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before all worlds.” And, as in all controversies, statements have been made on either side which cannot be supported by the words themselves. On the part of those who assert the divine nature, it has been contended that the Father is greater than the Son only as regards the human nature of the Son; but this is not here thought of. In this passage, as in others of the New Testament, it is plainly asserted that in the divine nature there is a subordination of the Son to the Father. (See, e.g.,John 14:16; John 17:5; 1Corinthians 3:23; 1Corinthians 11:3; 1Corinthians 15:27-28; Philippians 2:9; Philippians 2:11; and especially Note on John 5:19et seq.) On the part of those who deny the divinity of our Lord, it has been contended that this text asserts the inferiority of His nature to that of the Father, whereas the words could only have been uttered by one who meant in them to assert His own divine essence. If we try to imagine a man saying, “God is greater than I,” we feel at once that He who really said them claimed for Himself that He was truly God.

MacLaren's Expositions



John 14:28 - John 14:29.

Our Lord here casts a glance backward on the course of His previous words, and gathers together the substance and purpose of these. He brings out the intention of His warnings and the true effect of the departure, concerning which He had given them notice, as being twofold. In the first verse of my text His words about that going away, and the going away itself, are represented as the source of joy, which is an advance on the peace that He had just previously been promising. In the second of our verses these two things-His words, and the facts which they revealed-are represented as being the very ground and nourishment of faith.

So, then, we have these two thoughts to look at now, the departed Lord, the fountain of joy to all who love Him; the departed Lord, the ground and food of faith.

I. The departure of the Lord is a fountain of joy to those who love Him.

In the first part of our text the going away of Jesus is contemplated in two aspects.

The first is that with which we have already become familiar in previous sermons on this chapter-viz., its bearing upon the disciples; and in that respect it is declared that Christ’s going is Christ’s coming.

But then we have a new aspect, one on which, in His sublime self-repression, He very seldom touches-viz., its bearing upon Himself; and in that aspect we are taught here to regard our Lord’s going as ministering to His exaltation and joy, and therefore as being a source of joy to all His lovers.

So, then, we have these thoughts, Christ’s going is Christ’s coming, and Christ’s going is Christ’s exaltation, and for both reasons that departure ought to minister to His friends’ gladness. Let us look at these three things for a little while.

First of all, there comes a renewed utterance of that great thought which runs through the whole chapter, that the departure of Jesus Christ is in reality the coming of Christ. The word ‘again’ is a supplement, and somewhat restricts and destroys the true flow of thought and meaning of the words. For if we read, as our Authorised Version does, ‘I go away and come again unto you,’ we are inevitably led to think of a coming, separated by a considerable distance of time from the departure, and for most of us that which is suggested is the final coming and return, in bodily form, of the Lord Jesus.

Now great and glorious as that hope is, it is too far away to be in itself a sufficient comfort to the mourning disciples, and too remote to be for us, if taken alone, a sufficient ground of joy and of rest. But if you strike out the intrusive word ‘again,’ and read the sentence as being what it is, a description of one continuous process, of which the parts are so closely connected as to be all but contemporaneous, you get the true idea. ‘I go away, and I come to you.’ There is no gap, the thing runs on without a break. There is no moment of absolute absence; there are not two motions, one from us and the other back again towards us, but all is one. The ‘going’ is the ‘coming’; the solemn series of events which began on Calvary, and ended on Olivet, to the eye of sense were successive stages in the departure of Jesus Christ. But looked at with a deeper understanding of their true meaning, they are successive stages in His approach towards us. His death, His resurrection, His ascension, were not steps in the cessation of His presence, but they were simply steps in the transition from a lower to a higher kind of that presence. He changed the limitations and externalities of a mere bodily, local nearness for the realities of a spiritual presence. To the eye of sense, the ‘going away’ was the reality, and the ‘coming’ a metaphor. To the eye enlightened to see things as they are, the dropping away of the visible corporeal was but the inauguration of the higher and the more real. And we need to reverse our notions of what is real and what is figurative in Christ’s presence, and to feel that that form of His presence which we may all have to-day is far more real than the form which ceased when the Shekinah cloud ‘received Him out of their sight,’ before we can penetrate to the depth of His words, or grasp the whole fullness of blessing and of consolation which lie in them here. In a very deep and real sense, ‘He therefore departed from us for a season that we might receive Him for ever.’

The real presence of Jesus Christ to-day, and through the long ages with every waiting heart, is the very keynote to the solemn music of these chapters. And again I press upon you, and upon myself, the question, Do we believe it? Do we live in the faith of it? Does it fill the same place in the perspective of our Christian creed as it does in the revelation of the Scripture, or have we refined it and watered it down, until it comes to be little more than merely the continuous influence of the record of His past, just as any great and sovereign spirit that has influenced mankind may still ‘rule the nations from his urn’? Or do we take Him at His word, and believe that He meant what He said, in something far other than a violent figure for the continuance of His influence and of the inspiration drawn from Him, ‘Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world’? ‘Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend up into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above, the Word,’ the Incarnate Word, ‘is nigh thee, in thy heart,’ if thou lovest and trustest Him.

Then, again, the other aspect of our Lord’s coming, which is emphasised here, is that in which it is regarded as affecting Himself. Christ’s going is Christ’s exaltation.

Now observe that, in the first clause of our verse, there is simply specified the fact of departure, without any reference to the ‘whither’; because all that was wanted was to contrast the going and the coming. But, in the second clause, in which the emphasis rests not so much upon the fact of departure as upon the goal to which He went, we read: ‘I go to the Father.’ Hitherto we have been contemplating Christ’s departure simply in its bearing upon us, but here, with exquisite tenderness, He unveils another aspect of it, and that in order that He may change His disciples’ sadness into joy; and says to them, ‘If ye were not so absorbed in yourselves, you would have a thought to spare about Me, and you would feel that you should be glad because I am about to be exalted.’

Very, very seldom does He open such a glimpse into His heart, and it is all the more tender and impressive when He does. What a hint of the continual self-sacrifice of the human life of Jesus Christ lies in this thought, that He bids His disciples rejoice with Him, because the time is getting nearer its end, and He goes back to the Father! And what shall we say of the nature of Him to whom it was martyrdom to live, and a supreme instance of self-sacrificing humiliation to be ‘found in fashion as a man’?

He tells His followers here that a reason for their joy in His departure is to be found in this fact, that He goes to the Father, who is greater than Himself.

Now mark, with regard to that remarkable utterance, that the whole course of thought in the context requires, as it seems to me, that we should suppose that for Christ to ‘go to the Father’ was to share in the Father’s greatness. Why else should the disciples be bidden to rejoice in it? or why should He say anything at all about the greatness of the Father? If so, then this follows, that the greatness to which He here alludes is such as He enters by His ascension. Or, in other words, that the inferiority, of whatever nature it may be, to which He here alludes, falls away when He passes hence.

Now these words are often quoted triumphantly, as if they were dead against what I venture to call the orthodox and Scriptural doctrine of the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it may be worth while to remark that that doctrine accepts this saying as fully as it does Christ’s other word, ‘I and My Father are one,’ I venture to think that it is the only construction of Scripture phraseology which does full justice to all the elements. But be that as it may, I wish to remind you that the creed which confesses the unity of the Godhead and the divinity of Jesus Christ is not to be overthrown by pelting this verse at it; for this verse is part of that creed, which as fully declares that the Father is greater than the Son, as it declares that the Son is One with the Father. You may be satisfied with it or no, but as a matter of simple honesty it must be recognised that the creed of the Catholic Church does combine both the elements of these representations.

Now we can only speak in this matter as Scripture guides us. The depths of Deity are far too deep to be sounded by our plummets, and he is a bold man who ventures to say that he knows what is impossible in reference to the divine nature. He needs to have gone all round God, and down to the depths, and up to the heights of a bottomless and summitless infinitude, before he has a right to say that. But let me remind you that we can dimly see that the very names ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ do imply some sort of subordination, but that that subordination, inasmuch as it is in the timeless and inward relations of divinity, must be supposed to exist after the ascension, as it existed before the incarnation; and, therefore, any such mysterious difference is not that which is referred to here. What is referred to is what dropped away from the Man Jesus Christ, when He ascended up on high. As Luther has it, in his strong, simple way, in one of his sermons, ‘Here He was a poor, sad, suffering Christ’; and that garb of lowliness falls from Him, like the mantle that fell from the prophet as he went up in the chariot of fire, when He passes behind the brightness of the Shekinah cloud that hides Him from our sight. That in which the Father was greater than He, in so far as our present purpose is concerned, was that which He left behind when He ascended, even the pain, the suffering, the sorrow, the restrictions, the humiliation, that made so much of the burden of His life. Therefore we, as His followers, have to rejoice in an ascended Christ, beneath whose feet are foes, and far away from whose human personality are all the ills that flesh is heir to. ‘If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for My Father is greater than I.’

So then the third thought, in this first part of our subject, is that on both these grounds Christ’s ascension and departure are a source of joy. The two aspects of His departure, as affecting Him and as affecting us, are inseparably welded together. There can be no presence with us, man by man, through all the ages, and in every land, unless He, whose presence it is, participates in the absolute glory of divinity. For to be with you and me and all our suffering brethren, through the centuries and over the world, involves something more than belongs to mere humanity. Therefore, the two sources of gladness are confluent-Christ’s ascension as affecting us is inseparably woven in with Christ’s ascension as affecting Himself.

Love will delight to dwell upon that thought of its exalted Lover. We may fairly apply the simplicity of human relationships and affections to the elucidation of what ought to be our affection to Him, our Lord. And surely if our dearest one were far away from us, in some lofty position, our hearts and our thoughts would ever be going thither, and we should live more there than here, where we are ‘cribbed, cabined, and confined.’ And if we love Jesus Christ with any depth of earnestness and fervour of affection, there will be no thought more sweet to us, and none which will more naturally flow into our hearts, whenever they are for a moment at leisure, than this, the thought of Him, our Brother and Forerunner, who has ascended up on high; and in the midst of the glory of the throne bears us in His heart, and uses His glory for our blessing. Love will spring to where the beloved is; and if we be Christians in any deep and real sense, our hearts will have risen with Christ, and we shall be sitting with Him at the right hand of God. My brother, measure your Christianity, and the reality of your love to Jesus Christ, by this-is it to you natural, and a joy, to turn to Him, and ever to make present to your mind the glories in which He loves and lives, and intercedes, and reigns, for you? ‘If ye love Me, ye will rejoice, because I go unto the Father.’

II. And now I can deal with the second verse of our text very briefly. For our purpose it is less important than the former one. In it we find our Lord setting forth, secondly, His departure and His announcement of His departure as the ground and food of faith.

He knew what a crash was coming, and with exquisite tenderness, gentleness, knowledge of their necessities, and suppression of all His own feelings and emotions, He gave Himself to prepare the disciples for the storm, that, forewarned, they might be forearmed, and that when it did burst upon them, it might not take them by surprise.

So He does still, about a great many other things, and tells us beforehand of what is sure to come to us, that when we are caught in the midst of the tempest we may not bate one jot of heart or hope.

Why should I complain Of want or distress, Temptation or pain? He told me no less.’

And when my sorrows come to me, I may say about them what He says about His departure-He has told us before, that when it comes we may believe.

But note how, in these final words of my text, Christ avows that the great aim of His utterances and of His departure is to evoke our faith. And what does He mean by faith? He means, first of all, a grasp of the historic facts-His death, His resurrection, His ascension. He means, next, the understanding of these as He Himself has explained them-a death of sacrifice, a resurrection of victory over death and the grave, and an ascension to rule and guide His Church and the world, and to send His divine Spirit into men’s hearts if they will receive it. And He means, therefore, as the essence of the faith that He would produce in all our hearts-a reliance upon Himself as thus revealed, Sacrifice by His death, Victor by His resurrection, King and interceding Priest by His ascension-a reliance upon Himself as absolute as the facts are sure, as unfaltering as is His eternal sameness. The faith that grasps the Christ, dead, risen, ascended, as its all in all, for time and for eternity, is the faith which by all His work, and by all His words about His work, He desires to kindle in our hearts. Has He kindled it in yours?

Then there is a second thought-viz., that these facts, as interpreted by Himself, are the ground and the nourishment of our faith. How differently they looked when seen from the further side and when seen from the hither side! Anticipated and dimly anticipated, they were all doleful and full of dismay; remembered and looked back upon, they were radiant and bright. The disciples felt, with shrinking hearts and fainting spirits, that their whole reliance upon Jesus Christ was on the point of being shattered, and that everything was going when He died. ‘We trusted,’ said two of them, with such a sad use of the past tense, ‘we trusted that this had been He which should have redeemed Israel. But we do not trust it any more, nor do we expect Him to be Israel’s Redeemer now.’ But after the facts were all unveiled, there came back the memory of His words, and they said to one another, ‘Did He not tell us that it was all to be so? How blind we were not to understand Him!’

And so ‘the Cross, the grave, the skies,’ are the foundations of our faith; and they who see Him dying, rising, ascended, henceforth will find it impossible to doubt. Feed your faith upon these great facts, and take Christ’s own explanation of them, and your faith will be strong.

Again, we learn here that faith is the condition of the true presence of our absent Lord. Faith is that on our side which corresponds to His spiritual coming to us. Whosoever trusts Him possesses Him, and He is with and in every soul that, loving Him, relies upon Him, in a closeness so close and a presence so real that heaven itself does not bring the spirit of the believer and the Spirit of the Lord nearer one another, though it takes away the bodily film that sometimes seems to part their lives.

We, too, may and should be glad when we lift our eyes to that Throne where our Brother reigns. We too, may be glad that He is there, because His being there is the reason why He can be here; and we, too, may feed our faith upon Him, and so bring Him in very deed to dwell in our hearts. If we would have Christ within us, let us trust Him dying, rising, living in the heavens; and then we shall learn how, by all three apparent departures, He is drawing the closer to the souls that love and trust.

Benson Commentary

John 14:28-31. If ye loved me — With a wise and rational affection, it would allay your sorrows in the mean time, and howsoever you might have a mournful sense of your own loss; you would rejoice on my account, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father — Whose servant I am, as Mediator; is, in this respect, greater than I — Consequently, it must be my honour and happiness to be in a state of greater nearness to him than the present world will admit. “These words,” as Dr. Macknight justly remarks, “afford a strong argument for the proper divinity of our Lord. For had he been a mere man, or even a mere creature of the highest order, the comparison would have been foolish and impertinent.” And now I have told you before it come to pass, &c. — I have foretold my sufferings and death, in order that, when they happen, your faith, instead of being shaken, may be confirmed. Hereafter I will not talk much with you — I shall not have much opportunity to talk with you after this; for the prince of this world cometh — To make his grand assault. The devil will stir up wicked men to kill me; but he hath nothing in me — No right, no claim, no power. There is no guilt in me to give him power over me; no corruption to take part with his temptation. Be assured, therefore, that I shall undergo the punishment of death, not because I deserve it; but that the world may know— On the most substantial evidence; that I love the Father — I suffer Satan thus to assault me, and I undergo death, to show the world how much I love the Father: for it is the Father’s will that I should thus act; and as the Father gave me commandment — Or, commission; (see John 10:18;) even so I do — Because I can refuse no act of obedience to him, (how painful or expensive soever it may be,) whereby his glory may be advanced. Arise, &c. — And therefore, that we may be prepared for this hour of trial that is coming upon us, let us go hence — And retire to a place where we may more conveniently give ourselves to prayer, and where I may be ready, when my cruel enemies shall come to apprehend me, to yield myself into their hands, and to submit to what my Father has appointed for me.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

14:28-31 Christ raises the expectations of his disciples to something beyond what they thought was their greatest happiness. His time was now short, he therefore spake largely to them. When we come to be sick, and to die, we may not be capable of talking much to those about us; such good counsel as we have to give, let us give while in health. Observe the prospect Christ had of an approaching conflict, not only with men, but with the powers of darkness. Satan has something in us to perplex us with, for we have all sinned; but when he would disturb Christ, he found nothing sinful to help him. The best evidence of our love to the Father is, our doing as he has commanded us. Let us rejoice in the Saviour's victories over Satan the prince of this world. Let us copy the example of his love and obedience.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Ye have heard ... - John 14:2-3.

If ye loved me - The expression is not to be construed as if they had then no love to him, for they evidently had; but they had also low views of him as the Messiah; they had many Jewish prejudices, and they were slow to believe his plain and positive declarations. This is the slight and tender reproof of a friend, meaning manifestly if you had proper love for me; if you had the highest views of my character and work; if you would lay aside your Jewish prejudices, and put entire, implicit confidence in what Isay.

Ye would rejoice - Instead of grieving, you would rejoice in the completion of the plan which requires me to return to heaven, that greater blessings may descend on you by the influences of the Holy Spirit.

Unto the Father - To heaven; to the immediate presence of God, from whom all the blessings of redemption are to descend.

For my Father is greater than I-- The object of Jesus here is not to compare his nature with that of the Father, but his condition. Ye would rejoice that I am to leave this state of suffering and humiliation, and resume that glory which I had with the Father before the world was. You ought to rejoice at my exaltation to bliss and glory with the Father (Professor Stuart). The object of this expression is to console the disciples in view of his absence. This he does by saying that if he goes away, the Holy Spirit will descend, and great success will attend the preaching of the gospel, John 16:7-10. In the plan of salvation the Father is represented as giving the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the various blessings of the gospel. As the Appointer, the Giver, the Originator, he may be represented as in office superior to the Son and the Holy Spirit. The discourse has no reference, manifestly, to the nature of Christ, and cannot therefore be adduced to prove that he is not divine. Its whole connection demands that we interpret it as relating solely to the imparting of the blessings connected with redemption, in which the Son is represented all along as having been sent or given, and in this respect as sustaining a relation subordinate to the Father.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

28. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father, for my Father is greater than I—These words, which Arians and Socinians perpetually quote as triumphant evidence against the proper Divinity of Christ, really yield no intelligible sense on their principles. Were a holy man on his deathbed, beholding his friends in tears at the prospect of losing him, to say, "Ye ought rather to joy than weep for me, and would if ye really loved me, "the speech would be quite natural. But if they should ask him, why joy at his departure was more suitable than sorrow, would they not start back with astonishment, if not horror, were he to reply, "Because my Father is greater than I?" Does not this strange speech from Christ's lips, then, presuppose such teaching on His part as would make it extremely difficult for them to think He could gain anything by departing to the Father, and make it necessary for Him to say expressly that there was a sense in which He could do so? Thus, this startling explanation seems plainly intended to correct such misapprehensions as might arise from the emphatic and reiterated teaching of His proper equality with the Father—as if so Exalted a Person were incapable of any accession by transition from this dismal scene to a cloudless heaven and the very bosom of the Father—and by assuring them that this was not the case, to make them forget their own sorrow in His approaching joy.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you; they had heard our Saviour saying so, John 14:3. It is of the nature of true love, to rejoice in the good of the object beloved, as much as in its own, nay, before its own.

Saith our Saviour,

if ye loved me, that is, as ye ought to love me, (for our Lord had before owned that they did love him, giving it as a reason why he rather revealed himself and manifested himself to them, than to the world, John 14:23), you would not have been so unreasonably disturbed at my telling you that I shall leave you; because I not only told you that I would come again to you, but because I told you that I was going to my Father, John 14:2; from whom though I was never separated, as I am God over all blessed for ever, yet my human nature was yet never glorified with him; so that I shall be there much happier than here; being highly exalted, and having a name given me above every name, Philippians 2:9.

For my Father is greater than I; not greater in essence, (as the Arians and Socinians would have it), he had many times before asserted the contrary; but greater,

1. Either as to the order amongst the Divine Persons; because the Father begat, the Son is begotten; the Father is he from whom the Son proceeded by eternal generation: in which sense, divers of the ancients, amongst whom Athanasius, Cyril, and Augustine, and some modern interpreters, understand it. Or:

2. As Mediator sent from the Father, so he is greater than I. Or:

3. In respect of my present state, while I am here in the form of a servant; and in my state of humiliation:

which seemeth to be the best interpretation, if we consider the words before, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for the true reason of that joy must have been, because Christ in his glorious state of exaltation would be much more happy than he had been in his state of humiliation, while he was exposed to the scoffs, reproaches, and injuries of men, the temptations of Satan, &c.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Ye have heard how I said unto you,.... Christ had not only told his disciples that he should depart from them in a little time, but also that he should return again to them, and comfort them with his presence, and receive them to himself, to be with him in his Father's house for ever: and this he again suggests,

I go away, and come again unto you; so that they had not so much reason to be troubled and afraid, as they were: had he only said to them that he should go away, without giving any hint of his coming again, they might well have been uneasy; what made the friends of the Apostle Paul so sorrowful at his departure, was most of all, because he had signified to them they should see his face no more; but Christ assured his disciples that in a little time they should see him again, to their unspeakable joy and comfort:

if ye loved me, adds he,

ye would rejoice; not but that the disciples did truly love Christ, and their concern for the loss of his bodily presence is a proof of it; nor was their love unknown to him, nor does he call it in question, only corrects it, or rather uses means to increase it, to draw it forth aright, that it might move and run in a proper channel; they loved him, and therefore were unwilling to part with him, but this was not a pure expression of love to him, it showed too much a regard to themselves, than to the object loved; whereas had they considered things aright, since it was to his greater advantage to remove, they should rather have discovered a willingness to it, and have rejoiced at it; this would have shown pure love and unbiased affection to him: two reasons our Lord gives why they should have rejoiced at his departure; one is,

because, says he,

I said, I go unto the Father; who was not only his, but their Father also; at whose right hand he was to sit, an honour which no mere creature ever had; where he was to be glorified and exalted above all created beings; and besides, his glorification would secure and bring on theirs; as sure as he lived in glory, so sure should they; yea, they should immediately sit down in heavenly places in him, as their head and representative, and therefore had good reason to rejoice at his going away: the other is,

That is, more blessed and glorious than he; for this is not a comparison of natures, or of persons, but of states and conditions: now he was going to the Father to partake of the same happiness and glory with him, to be glorified with himself, with the same glory he had with him before the foundation of the world; wherefore on this account, his disciples ought to have rejoiced, and not have mourned.

Geneva Study Bible

{10} 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 {l} greater than I.

(10) We should in no way be sorry for the departing of Christ from us according to the flesh, but rather we should rejoice in it, seeing that all the blessing of the body depends upon the glorifying of the head.

(l) This is spoken in that Christ is mediator, for in this regard the Father is greater than he, in as much as the person to whom request is made is greater than he that makes the request.


Meyer's NT Commentary

John 14:28. Instead of being terrified and alarmed, you should rejoice, that I, etc. ἠκούσατε, κ.τ.λ. (John 14:18) prepares for this.

εἰ ἠγαπ. με] intended by Jesus to be understood in its ideal sense, of true, complete love, which consists simply and solely in entire self-surrender to Him, so that all other interests are subordinated to it.

ὅτι ὁ πατήρ μου μείζων μου ἐστί] Statement of the reason for the joy which they would have felt (ἐχάρητε): since my Father is greater, as generally, so particularly, more powerful (comp. John 14:12; John 8:53; John 10:29; 1 John 4:4) thanI; since I, consequently, through my departure to Him, shall be elevated in the higher fellowship with Him, to far greater power and efficiencyfor my aims, for victory over the world, etc. Comp. Melanchthon. In thisgain, which is awaiting me, how should not he rejoice who loves me? Othersfind the motive to joy indicated by Christ in the glory and blessednesswhich awaits Him with the Father. So Cyril (τὴν ἰδίαν δόξαν ἀναληψόμενος), and several, including Tholuck, Olshausen, Kling, Köstlin, Maier, Hilgenfeld, Hengstenberg, Baeumlein, comp. Godet. But thus the motive would lie only in the departure to the Father generally (with which the attainment of the δόξαwas necessarily associated), not to the Father’s superior greatness of being, irrespective of the fact, that on this view the reference which Jesus would be giving to the love of the disciples would contain something selfish. Othersrender: the occasion of joy lies in the more powerful protectionwhich the μείζων πατήρwould assure to the disciples, beyond what He, during His presence on earth, was able to do (Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, and several others, including Kuinoel, Lücke, De Wette). But this does not apply to the condition of love to the person of Jesus, for the above explanation changes it rather into love towards His work. Others, as Luther, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Lampe, mingle together in the determination of the cause of joy, the interest of Christ andof the disciples; comp. Calvin: “quia haec ultima est meta, ad quam tendere vos oportet.”

The μειζονότηςof the Father (formerly the point of controversy with the Arians, see Suicer, Thes. II. p. 1368) does not rest in the pre-eminence of the unbegottenover the begotten(Athanasius, Faustinus, Gregory Nazianzus, Hilarius, Euth. Zigabenus, and many others, including again also Olshausen), for which special expedient the text offers no occasion whatever, nor again in the temporal humiliationof Christ (Cyril, Augustine, Ammonius, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Beza, Aretius, and many others, including De Wette, Tholuck, and Luthardt), since God is also greater than the exaltedChrist (see John 14:16, ἐρωτήσω, John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Php 2:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3, and generally throughout the N. T.), as He was also greater than the pre-existent Logos (John 1:1-3); but in the absolute monotheism of Jesus(John 17:3), and of the whole N. T. (see on Romans 9:5), according to which the Son, although of divine essence,[157] and ὉΜΟΟΎΣΙΟςwith the Father (John 1:1; Php 2:6; Colossians 1:15-18, et al.), nevertheless was, and is, and remains subordinatedto the Father, the immutably Highest One, since the Son, as Organ, as Commissioner of the Father, as Intercessor with Him, etc., has received His whole power, even in the kingly office, from the Father (John 17:5), and, after the complete accomplishment of the work committed to Him, will restore it to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28). The remark of Hengstenberg is incorrect: Only such a pre-eminence of greatness on the part of the Father can be intended, as came to an end with the departure of Christ to the Father.

[157] This forms the previous assumption of the declaration, which otherwise would be without meaning and relevancy. Comp. on John 10:30. In truth, from the mouth of an ordinary human being it would be an utterance of folly.

Expositor's Greek Testament

John 14:28. On the contrary quite other feelings should possess them: joy in sympathy with Him in His glorification and in expectation of the results of His going to the Father: ἠκούσατε… πατέρα. “If ye loved me,” an almost playful way of reproaching their sadness. There was no doubt of their love, but it was an unintelligent love. They failed to consider the great joy that awaited Him in His going to the Father. This going to the Father was cause for rejoicing, ὅτι ὁ πατήρ μου[μουis not well authenticated and should be deleted] μείζων μου ἐστί, “because the Father is greater than I”; and can therefore fulfil all the loving purposes of Christ to His disciples. “The life which He has begun with them and for them will be raised to a higher level.” They had seen the life He had lived and were disturbed because it was coming to an end: but it was coming to an end because absorbed in the greater life He would have with the Father. The theological import of the words is discussed by Westcott, who cites patristic opinions and refers to Bull and Pearson. In all that Jesus did, it was the Father’s will He carried out, and with powers communicated by the Father: the Father is the Originator and End of all His work in the world. Throughout the ministry of Jesus the Father is represented as “greater” than the Son. That it should require to be explicitly affirmed, as here, is the strongest evidence that He was Divine.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

28. Ye have heard, &c.] Literally, Yeheard thatI said to you, Iam goingaway andI am coming untoyou:comp. John 14:1-2; John 14:18.

because I said, I go, &c.] Omit ‘I said,’ which is wanting in all the best authorities: If yehadloved Me, ye wouldhave rejoiced that I am goingunto the Father. The construction is the same as in John 4:10, John 11:21; John 11:32, John 14:28. Their affection is not free from selfishness: they ought to rejoice at His gain rather than mourn over their own loss.

for my Father is greater than I] Because theFather is greater than I. Therefore Christ’s going to Him is gain. This was a favourite text with the Arians, as implying the inferiority of the Son. There is a real sense in which even in the Godhead the Son is subordinate to the Father: this is involved in the Eternal Generation and in the Son’s being the Agent by whom the Father works in the creation and preservation of all things. Again, there is the sense in which the ascended and glorified Christ is ‘inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.’ Lastly, there is the sense in which Jesus on earth was inferior to His Father in Heaven. Of the three this last meaning seems to suit the context best, as shewing most clearly how His going to the Father would be a gain, and that not only to Himself but to the Apostles; for at the right hand of the Father, who is greater than Himself, He will have more power to advance His kingdom. See notes on 1 Corinthians 15:27-28; Mark 13:32, [John 16:19].

Bengel's Gnomen

John 14:28. Ἠκούσατε, ye have heard) On other occasions His wont is to say, εἶπον, I have said; but this which He has said, concerning His departure, His disciples eagerly had attended to, and that, too, with sorrow.—ὑπάγω, καὶ ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, I go away, and come unto you) In relation to the world He saith, I came and depart[“I leave the world”], ch. John 16:28: Καὶ, andforthwith.—ἐχάρητε ἂν) ye would rejoice, or rather, ye would have rejoiced. As to the Pluperfect, we have slightly touched upon the subject in John 14:2.[353] Ye would have rejoicedfor My sake, as I am setting out upon a wished-for journey of departure, and for your own sakes, as love makes you capable of perceiving that My departure is advantageous even to yourselves. Love begets joy, both of itself, and also because it keeps the word of Christ, which opens out all the most joyful prospects to us.—μείζων μου, greater than I) Many and various were the former disputations and treatises on this passage, which Dion. Petavius has collected, Tom. ii. Theol. Dogm. l. 2, de Trin. cap. 2; G. Bullus Def. Fid. Nicæn. Sect. iv.; Jo. Casp. Suicer. Thes. Part ii. coll. 1368, Reinecc. ad N. T., fol. 387. Not a few of the Greeks and Latins have answered the Arians, and laid it down, That the Father, not as God, but as the ἀγέννητοςFather (not-begotten), is said to be greaterthan the Son, not regarded in His character as God, but as the Son, begotten of the Father; and that this fact does not do away with His unity of essence(τὸ ὁμοούσιον) or consubstantialitywith the Father. To these is to be added G. Arnold. Evang. Bottschafft, p. 697. Others affirm, that Christ is inferior to the Father in respect of His human nature;[354] which phrase of comparison has in it nothing inept; comp. 1 John 3:20, “God is greater than our heart.” Jesus both had in His most holy soul, at one time, a greater feeling of His glory, at another time of His humility, and expressed that feeling accordingly in His words. Comp. note on Mark 13:32, “Of that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels, etc., neither the Son, but the Father” [spoken in relation to His human nature, and His humiliation]. In this passage He speaks under the feeling of His ταπεινότης, lowliness: language such as was best adapted both to the capacity of understanding which the disciples had at the time, and to the present (existing) time and circumstances, when He was treating of His departure to the Father. Before His actual departure, He had been lower even than the angels, Hebrews 2:9; after His departure, He became greater than His own self [i.e. the Worker, through His disciples, of greater miracles than even He Himself had performed in the days of His flesh. “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto My Father”], John 14:12, and equal to the Father, ch. John 17:5, “O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Theebefore the world was.” Nor yet does He speak of His Humiliation alone, but speaks as the Son of God in the flesh, directing His aspirations (longing to go) to the Father. Greater than I; that is to say, more blessed. Comp. this term as it occurs in ch. John 4:12, “Art Thou greaterthan our father Jacob?” John 8:53, “Art Thou greaterthan our father Abraham?” 1 Corinthians 13:13, “The greaterof these is charity;” John 14:5, “Greater(more useful) is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues;” and as to the thing itself, comp. Mark 10:18.[355] This consideration especially made the departure of Jesus out of the world to the Father a thing to be desired.

[353] See note ch. John 4:10. If John had meant ye would rejoice, he would have written the Imperfect, ἐχαίρετε ἂν, rather than the Aorist.—E. and T.

[354] So the Nicene Creed, “Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.”—E. and T.

[355] “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” He rested not in Himself, but referred Himself wholly to God, acting the part of a traveller and pilgrim on earth, “not knowing Himself after the flesh” (Augustine), but aiming towards the eternal good. At the same time His answer to the youth does not ignore His Godhead, but is adapted to his comprehension. He refuses the title of goodnesswhen unaccompanied with the ascription of Godhead.—E. and T.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 28.- Now, however, he leads them a step further. The disciples are to dismiss their trouble and fear, because

(1)of the many mansions that he is going to prepare;

(2)because he was the "Way" to the Father;

(3)because they have had a theophany in him;

(4)because they shall carry on the work of Christ and fulfill all the prophecies,

(5)and do all this under the power of another Advocate or Helper;

(6)because he, the Holy Spirit, will indeed reveal him as he (Christ) had revealed the Father; and

(7)because the Father and Son would come and take up their abode in the loving and obedient heart. But the Lord does more - he bids them not only to dismiss their fear and harassment, but even to "rejoice." Ye heard that I said, I am departing, and, in that very act, I am coming to you.If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced- a supposition involving uncertainty with a prospect of decision. Perfect love would cast out fear. But why? BecauseI go to the Father, the theme of the whole discourse. But why should this cause you to rejoice? Because theFather is greater than I!It is not easy adequately to explain this memorable saying. The Arians made use of it to prove, from bur Lord's own lips, that his Person, even his pre-existent Divinity, was less than the Father's; that his essence, admittedly generated by the Father, was created by him, and was not the same as that of the Father. The same view has been held by the rationalistic school. The Socinians and modern Unitarians have insisted on the entire dependence and purely human character of our Lord. The Son of man and Son of God are to many merely the self-chosen titles of the greatest of the sons of men, who thus is supposed to put himself on a level with ordinary men who may learn to call God their Father. But is it? Could any man, unconscious of a far closer relation with God than that of the greatest saint, dare to say, as if to relieve anxiety on that head, "My Father is greater than I"? Is there not in the very phrase a suggestion of Divine sufficiency and relation to the Father which altogether precludes the purely humanitarian position?

(1)A theological view which has largely prevailed among those who have held the homoousiaof the Father and the Son, is that the Lord was here speaking of his human nature only. The Athanasian symbol says," Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood." But the "I" is here used of his whole Personality, as in John 8:58; John 10:30, and throughout the discourse he is speaking of himself in the Divine-human Person in which the eternal and temporal, the infinite and finite, are indissolubly blended.

(2)Others have supposed that he referred to himself as in a state of humiliation. Hengstenberg says the Lord was speaking of the pre-eminent greatness of the Father, which came to an end at his departure. Cyril, Luther, Melancthon, De Wette, Tholuck, Luthardt, and Alford think that Jesus spoke these words of the humiliated Christ in his condition of a servant - obedient unto death. The Son, the Logos of God, was that Mode or Personality of Deity by which "God" created the universe, governed mankind, and proceeded by special manifestation - incarnation, life, and death - to redeem the world. Calvin had said, while the Arians have abused this testimony, the orthodox solution of the Fathers was neither harmonious nor sound; the true signification of the passage, according to him, being found in the mediatorial office of the Christ, and in his status exinanitionis. But this would not exhaust the meaning, for in this very passage he does describe the Father as greater even than the exaltedChrist; and in John 1:1-3as greater even than the pre-existent Logos. And so

(3)we are led to see that there is indeed a subordination of rank and order in the Son, involved in the very notion even of an eternal generation; and compatible with the equality of Being and of essence which he shared with the Father. This is undoubtedly confirmed by John 17:3, 5; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3; and has been through the whole history of Christological speculation conceded (Bishop Bull, in his three chapters on the "Subordination of the Son," has shown, by abundant proof, that before and after the Council of Nicaea, the Fathers held "that the Son has indeed the same Divine nature in common with the Father, but communicated by the Father in such sense, i.e., that the Father alone hath the Divine nature from himself, but the Son from the Father; that the Father is the Fountain, Origin, and Principle of the Divinity which is in the Son"). This is abundantly, needful to avoid at once the errors of tritheism, and to maintain the real unity of the Divine Being. Christ's going to the Father was a ground of rejoicing, because his exaltation through death and resurrection to the position of power and majesty unutterable, and the lifting up of his Divine-human Personality to the midst of the throne, gives to him, in his relations with his disciples, the efficacy of the greatness of that Divine nature which, by its own characteristics, could not have become incarnate. The unrevealed God is greater than the revealed. The lifting up of perfect humanity into the glory which the Son had with the Father before the world was, should have been the cause of joy to the disciples. It is the wellspring of joy to the Church (see Suicer, 'Thesaurus,' art. Μειζονότης; Bull's 'Defense of the Nicene Creed,' bk. 4; Westcott's catena of passages in 'Additional Note to John 14;' Lange and P. Schaff, 'Comm. on John'). John 14:28

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Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Christ's Consolatory Discourse.

      28 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.   29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.   30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.   31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

      Christ here gives his disciples another reason why their hearts should not be troubled for his going away; and that is, because his heart was not. And here he tells them what it was that enabled him to endure the cross and despise the shame, that they might look unto him, and run with patience. He comforted himself,

      I. That, though he went away, he should come again: "You have heard how I have said, and now I say it again, I go away, and come again." Note, What we have heard of the doctrine of Christ, especially concerning his second coming, we have need to be told again and again. When we are under the power of any transport of passion, grief, or fear, or care, we forget that Christ will come again. See Philippians 4:5. Christ encouraged himself with this, in his sufferings and death, that he should come again, and the same should comfort us in our departure at death; we go away to come again; the leave we take of our friends at that parting is only a good night, not a final farewell. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

      II. That he went to his Father: "If you loved me, as by your sorrow you say you do, you would rejoice instead of mourning, because, though I leave you, yet I said, I go unto the Father, not only mine, but yours, which will be my advancement and your advantage; for my Father is greater than I." Observe here, 1. It is matter of joy to Christ's disciples that he is gone to the Father, to take possession for orphans, and make intercession for transgressors. His departure had a bright side as well as a dark side. Therefore he sent this message after his resurrection (John 20:17; John 20:17), I ascend to my Father and your Father, as most comfortable. 2. The reason of this is, because the Father is greater than he, which, if it be a proper proof of that for which it is alleged (as no doubt it is), must be understood thus, that his state with his Father would be much more excellent and glorious than his present state; his returning to his Father (so Dr. Hammond) would be the advancing of him to a much higher condition than that which he was now in. Or thus, His going to the Father himself, and bringing all his followers to him there, was the ultimate end of his undertaking, and therefore greater than the means. Thus Christ raises the thoughts and expectations of his disciples to something greater than that in which now they thought all their happiness bound up. The kingdom of the Father, wherein he shall be all in all, will be greater than the mediatorial kingdom. 3. The disciples of Christ should show that they love him by their rejoicing in the glories of his exaltation, rather than by lamenting the sorrows of his humiliation, and rejoicing that he is gone to his Father, where he would be, and where we shall be shortly with him. Many that love Christ, let their love run out in a wrong channel; they think if they love him they must be continually in pain because of him; whereas those that love him should dwell at ease in him, should rejoice in Christ Jesus.

      III. That his going away, compared with the prophecies which went before of it, would be a means of confirming the faith of his disciples (John 14:29; John 14:29): "I have told you before it come to pass that I must die and rise again, and ascend to the Father, and send the Comforter, that, when it is come to pass, you might believe." See this reason, John 13:19; John 16:4. Christ told his disciples of his death, though he knew it would both puzzle them and grieve them, because it would afterwards redound to the confirmation of their faith in two things:-- 1. That he who foretold these things had a divine prescience, and knew beforehand what day would bring forth. When St. Paul was going to Jerusalem, he knew not the things that did abide him there, but Christ did. 2. That the things foretold were according to the divine purpose and designation, not sudden resolves, but the counterparts of an eternal counsel. Let them therefore not be troubled at that which would be for the confirmation of their faith, and so would redound to their real benefit; for the trial of our faith is very precious, though it cost us present heaviness, through manifold temptations,1 Peter 1:6.

      IV. That he was sure of a victory over Satan, with whom he knew he was to have a struggle in his departure (John 14:30; John 14:30): "Henceforth I will not talk much with you, having not much to say, but what may be adjourned to the pouring out of the Spirit." He had a great deal of good talk with them after this (John 15:1-16; John 15:1-16), but, in comparison with what he had said, it was not much. His time was now short, and he therefore spoke largely to them now, because the opportunity would soon be over. Note, We should always endeavour to talk to the purpose, because perhaps we may not have time to talk much. We know not how soon our breath may be stopped, and therefore should be always breathing something that is good. When we come to be sick and die, perhaps we may not be capable of talking much to those about us; and therefore what good counsel we have to give them, let us give it while we are in health. One reason why he would not talk much with them was because he had now other work to apply himself to: The prince of this world comes. He called the devil the prince of this world,John 12:31; John 12:31. The disciples dreamed of their Master being the prince of this world, and they worldly princes under him. But Christ tells them that the prince of this world was his enemy, and so were the princes of this world, that were actuated and ruled by him, 1 Corinthians 2:8. But he has nothing in me. Observe here, 1. The prospect Christ had of an approaching conflict, not only with men, but with the powers of darkness. The devil had set upon him with his temptations (Matthew 4:1-11), had offered him the kingdoms of this world, if he would hold them as tributary to him, with an eye to which Christ calls him, in disdain, the prince of this world. Then the devil departed from him for a season; "But now," says Christ, "I see him rallying again, preparing to make a furious onset, and so to gain by terrors that which he could not gain by allurements;" to frighten from his undertaking, when he could not entice from it. Note, The foresight of a temptation gives us great advantage in our resistance of it; for, being fore-warned, we should be fore-armed. While we are here, we may see Satan continually coming against us, and ought therefore to be always upon our guard. 2. The assurance he had of good success in the conflict: He hath nothing in me, ouk echei ouden--He hath nothing at all. (1.) There was no guilt in Christ to give authority to the prince of this world in his terrors. The devil is said to have the power of death (Hebrews 2:14); the Jews called him the angel of death, as an executioner. Now Christ having done no evil, Satan had no legal power against him, and therefore, though he prevailed to crucify him, he could not prevail to terrify him; though he hurried him to death, yet not to despair. When Satan comes to disquiet us, he has something in us to perplex us with, for we have all sinned; but, when he would disturb Christ, he found no occasion against him. (2.) There was no corruption in Christ, to give advantage to the prince of this world in his temptations. He could not crush his undertaking by drawing him to sin, because there was nothing sinful in him, nothing irregular for his temptations to fasten upon, no tinder for him to strike fire into; such was the spotless purity of his nature that he was above the possibility of sinning. The more Satan's interest in us is crushed and decays, the more comfortably may we expect sufferings and death.

      V. That his departure was in compliance with, and obedience to, his Father. Satan could not force his life from him, and yet he would die: that the world may know that I love the Father,John 14:31; John 14:31. We may take this,

      1. As confirming what he had often said, that his undertaking, as Mediator, was a demonstration to the world, (1.) Of his compliance with the Father; hereby it appeared that he loved the Father. As it was an evidence of his love to man that he died for his salvation, so it was of his love to God that he died for his glory and the accomplishing of his purposes. Let the world know that between the Father and the Son there is not love lost. As the Father loved the Son, and gave all things into his hands; so the Son loved the Father, and gave his spirit into his hand. (2.) Of his obedience to his Father: "As the Father gave me commandment, even so I did--did the thing commanded me in the manner commanded." Note, The best evidence of our love to the Father is our doing as he hath given us commandment. As Christ loved the Father, and obeyed him, even to the death, so we must love Christ, and obey him. Christ's eye to the Father's commandment, obliging him to suffer and die, bore him up with cheerfulness, and overcame the reluctancies of nature; this took off the offence of the cross, that what he did was by order from the Father. The command of God is sufficient to bear us out in that which is most disputed by others, and therefore should be sufficient to bear us up in that which is most difficult to ourselves: This is the will of him that made me, that sent me.

      2. As concluding what he had now said; having brought it to this, here he leaves it: that the world may know that I love the Father. You shall see how cheerfully I can meet the appointed cross: "Arise, let us go hence to the garden;" so some; or, to Jerusalem. When we talk of troubles at a distance, it is easy to say, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest; but when it comes to the pinch, when an unavoidable cross lies in the way of duty, then to say, "Arise, let us go to meet it," instead of going out of our way to miss it, this lets the world know that we love the Father. If this discourse was at the close of the passover-supper, it should seem that at these words he arose from the table, and retired into the drawing-room, where he might the more freely carry on the discourse with his disciples in the following chapters, and pray with them. Dr. Goodwin's remark upon this is, that Christ mentioning the great motive of his sufferings, his Father's commandment, was in all haste to go forth to suffer and die, was afraid of slipping the time of Judas's meeting him: Arise, says he, let us go hence but he looks upon the glass, as it were, sees it not quite out, and therefore sits down again, and preaches another sermon. Now, (1.) In these words he gives his disciples an encouragement to follow him. He does not say, I must go; but, Let us go. He calls them out to no hardships but what he himself goes before them in as their leader. They had promised they would not desert him: "Come," says he, "let us go then; let us see how you will make the words good." (2.) He gives them an example, teaching them at all times, especially in suffering times, to sit loose to all things here below, and often to think and speak of leaving them. Though we sit easy, and in the midst of the delights of an agreeable conversation, yet we must not think of being here always: Arise, let us go hence. If it was at the close of the paschal and eucharistical supper, it teaches us that the solemnities of our communion with God are not to be constant in this world. When we sit down under Christ's shadow with delight, and say, It is good to be here; yet we must think of rising and going hence; going down from the mount.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on John 14:28". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

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John 14:28

John 14:28

Ye have heard how I said unto you
Christ had not only told his disciples that he should depart from them in a little time, but also that he should return again to them, and comfort them with his presence, and receive them to himself, to be with him in his Father's house for ever: and this he again suggests,

I go away, and come again unto you;
so that they had not so much reason to be troubled and afraid, as they were: had he only said to them that he should go away, without giving any hint of his coming again, they might well have been uneasy; what made the friends of the Apostle Paul so sorrowful at his departure, was most of all, because he had signified to them they should see his face no more; but Christ assured his disciples that in a little time they should see him again, to their unspeakable joy and comfort:

if ye loved me,
adds he,

ye would rejoice;
not but that the disciples did truly love Christ, and their concern for the loss of his bodily presence is a proof of it; nor was their love unknown to him, nor does he call it in question, only corrects it, or rather uses means to increase it, to draw it forth aright, that it might move and run in a proper channel; they loved him, and therefore were unwilling to part with him, but this was not a pure expression of love to him, it showed too much a regard to themselves, than to the object loved; whereas had they considered things aright, since it was to his greater advantage to remove, they should rather have discovered a willingness to it, and have rejoiced at it; this would have shown pure love and unbiased affection to him: two reasons our Lord gives why they should have rejoiced at his departure; one is,

says he,

I said, I go unto the Father;
who was not only his, but their Father also; at whose right hand he was to sit, an honour which no mere creature ever had; where he was to be glorified and exalted above all created beings; and besides, his glorification would secure and bring on theirs; as sure as he lived in glory, so sure should they; yea, they should immediately sit down in heavenly places in him, as their head and representative, and therefore had good reason to rejoice at his going away: the other is,

for my Father is greater than I:
That is, more blessed and glorious than he; for this is not a comparison of natures, or of persons, but of states and conditions: now he was going to the Father to partake of the same happiness and glory with him, to be glorified with himself, with the same glory he had with him before the foundation of the world; wherefore on this account, his disciples ought to have rejoiced, and not have mourned.

John 14:12-15:27 - Skip Heitzig

John 14:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 14:28, NIV: "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."

John 14:28, ESV: "You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."

John 14:28, KJV: "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, NASB: "You heard that I said to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoicedbecause I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I."

John 14:28, NLT: "Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am."

John 14:28, CSB: "You have heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I."


Commentary john 14:28

“You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.'” (John 14:28).

Jesus said that the Father was greater than He not because Jesus is not God but because Jesus was also a man, and as a man, He was in a lower position. He was “. . . made for a little while lower than the angels . . .” (Heb. 2:9). Also in Phil. 2:5-8, it says that Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men . . .”

Jesus has two natures. Jesus was not denying that He was God. He was merely acknowledging the fact that He was also a man. Jesus is both God and man. As a man, He was in a lesser position than the Father. He had added to Himself human nature (Col. 2:9). He became a man to die for people.

A comparison can be found in the marriage relationship. Biblically, a husband is greater in position and authority than his wife, but, he is no different in nature, and he is no better than she. They share the same nature–being human, and they work together by love.

So, Jesus was not denying that He was God. He was simply acknowledging that He was also a man, and as a man, He was subject to the laws of God so that He might redeem those who were under the law, namely, sinners (Gal. 4:4-5).

For further reading please see The two natures of Jesus.

Scriptures Quoted:

  1. Phil. 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
  2. Col. 2:9, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,”
  3. Gal. 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
  4. Heb. 2:9, “But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”
John 14:28 properly understood for \

If Jesus was God, why did He say, “The Father is greater than I” in John 14:28?


The phrase “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28) was spoken by Jesus during the upper room discourse, and the greater context is the promising of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus says repeatedly that He is doing the Father’s will, thereby implying that He is somehow subservient to the Father. The question then becomes how can Jesus be equal to God when by His own admission He is subservient to the will of God? The answer to this question lies within the nature of the incarnation.

During the incarnation, Jesus was temporarily “made lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:9), which refers to Jesus’ status. The doctrine of the incarnation says that the second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, Jesus was fully human and “made lower than the angels.” However, Jesus is fully divine, too. By taking on human nature, Jesus did not relinquish His divine nature—God cannot stop being God. How do we reconcile the fact that the second Person of the Trinity is fully divine yet fully human and by definition “lower than the angels”? The answer to that question can be found in Philippians 2:5-11. When the second Person of the Trinity took on human form, something amazing occurred. Christ “made himself nothing.” This phrase has generated more ink than almost any other phrase in the Bible. In essence, what it means is that Jesus voluntarily relinquished the prerogative of freely exercising His divine attributes and subjected Himself to the will of the Father while on earth.

Another thing to consider is the fact that subservience in role does not equate to subservience in essence. For example, consider an employer/employee relationship. The employer has the right to make demands of the employee, and the employee has the obligation to serve the employer. The roles clearly define a subservient relationship. However, both people are still human beings and share in the same human nature. There is no difference between the two as to their essence; they stand as equals. The fact that one is an employer and the other is an employee does nothing to alter the essential equality of these two individuals as human beings. The same can be said of the members of the Trinity. All three members (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are essentially equal; i.e., they are all divine in nature. However, in the grand plan of redemption, they play certain roles, and these roles define authority and subservience. The Father commands the Son, and the Father and the Son command the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the fact that the Son took on a human nature and made Himself subservient to the Father in no way denies the deity of the Son, nor does it diminish His essential equality with the Father. The “greatness” spoken of in this verse, then, relates to role, not to essence.

Recommended Resources

God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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Questions about Jesus Christ

If Jesus was God, why did He say, “The Father is greater than I” in John 14:28?

Now discussing:

Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.

In the Providence of God, we now find ourselves in John 14. I would like to examine verses 28 through 31 this morning under the heading "The Cross From Jesus' Perspective." If we're honest, we must admit that we all struggle with being self-centered. By nature, we insist that the world orbit around us. The last I checked, there is no such thing as a selfless child. You go back there with the toddlers and you will discover that very quickly. In fact, you spend much time around adults, you'll discover the same thing. And it's also true that we all struggle with our faith at some level, that unwavering trust in the character and promises of God. We don't always find ourselves fully convinced that what God is doing is really his perfect work in us in every circumstance; we sometimes question his timing; we prefer that he would do things our way on our schedule and so forth. Our selfishness, unfortunately, makes it hard for us to see things from another person's perspective and even harder to see things from God's perspective. This often results in our failure to trust him. It often results in our failure to love him and this is precisely what was going on with the disciples in the text we have before us and for this reason, Jesus is now going to tenderly rebuke his disciples in this portion of his farewell address.

Now remember, the disciples were deeply troubled with all of this talk of Jesus leaving them. They had left everything to follow him. He had provided everything for them for essentially 3 years: all of their physical needs, all their spiritual and emotional needs. All of their hopes and dreams were anchored in Jesus, their long awaited Messiah. Every waking moment, they were thinking about the kingdom, the glory of the kingdom and their place of honor and service in that kingdom. So naturally, they are bewildered. They are deeply troubled over Jesus' prediction of his death. They are basically saying, "Surely this cannot be. What about me?" and their rabid commitment to self really prevented them from seeing the big picture. They were especially blind to what Jesus' death meant to him.

So in chapter 14, verse 1, you will recall Jesus commanded them, "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me." He went on to tell them that he's going to prepare a place for them and come back again and receive them unto himself. He has assured them that because they know him and are united to him spiritually, that they too will come to the Father. He has promised to send another helper like him, the Holy Spirit, who will comfort them and strengthen and guide them. And through the indwelling Spirit of God, he has promised that they will be able to experience the peace of God's presence deep within their soul, a peace that transcends circumstances. He's even promised them that he is going to be resurrected from the dead. But despite the abundant consolation that Jesus lavishes upon them, they simply could not extricate themselves from their self-centered preoccupation with what Jesus' departure would mean for them. They could not see that their loss would ultimately mean their gain and they certainly could not see that their loss would mean Jesus' gain.

So Jesus rebukes them, again, in verse 27 and he says, "let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid." Then he went on to add the text that we will examine this morning, beginning in verse 28,

28 "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. 30 I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here."

Here the Spirit of God reveals to us the divine perspective of Jesus' death on the cross and thus the title of my discourse to you, "The Cross From Jesus' Perspective." Now, as believers, we all have a clear sense of what Jesus' death on the cross means to us. We know that through that our sins were paid in full, we have been purchased unto God, we have been declared righteous, we're at peace with God and all those wonderful things. But what did the cross mean to Jesus? What was his perspective on what was about to transpire? In an effort to glean the fullness of Jesus' words here, I suggest that we examine them under 4 categories; here we can see that from Jesus' perspective his death on the cross would accomplish 4 things. 1. His glory would be restored. 2. His word would be confirmed. 3. His enemy would be defeated. Finally, his love would be manifested. And after we examine this, I wish to address some very practical warnings about the enemy that Christ has ultimately defeated, namely Satan, but an enemy that is still very much at war against Christ and all who belong to him.

So, let's begin with verse 28, "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." Obviously, their failure to trust in him was a failure in their love for him. Like us, they could only focus on themselves, not on the magnificent benefits Christ's departure would bring to him. So first, Jesus knew that because of his death on the cross, 1. His glory would be restored. This is something the disciples could not see at this point. Again, "If you loved me, you would have rejoiced." Now, Jesus knew that they loved him. He had already spoken about this but obviously their love was deficient. It was clouded by their love for self. They could only see their loss, not his gain. They were only focused on their sorrow, not his joy.

So, "If you love me," he said, "you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father." And where is that? It is that place of perfect fellowship. A place of inexpressible glory. In fact, in just a few hours, Jesus will go into the garden. He will come before the Father in anguish and in prayer and he will express the longing of his heart to be with his Father. In John 17:1, we read what he prays, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You." Then in verse 5, "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." You see, this should have brought great joy to the hearts of the disciples but they didn't think about this because they were too self-absorbed.

He also says that, "You would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I," in other words, he is in that place of inexpressible and undiminished glory unlike the place where I am at in my incarnate state of humiliation. I must add here that Jesus is not suggesting that the Father is greater than him in essence or in being as some heretical groups would have us believe. Jesus has previously stated, made it abundantly clear that as the second person of the Triune Godhead, he possesses all of the excellencies of divinity. He is co-equal. He is co-eternal. He is consubstantial with the Father, that is, he's of the same substance, the same essence, of the same nature. In John 10:30, he says, "I and the Father are one." So here Jesus is acknowledging his role as servant who came to do the will of his Father and at the same time now, he's exalting the one who has sent him. Moreover, Jesus knew that his death would be followed by his resurrection, by his exaltation. And he only wished that the disciples' love for him would exceed their preoccupation with their own pain and somehow rejoice with him in what was about to happen.

So first, Jesus knew that because of his death on the cross his glory would be restored. Secondly, he also knew that his word would be confirmed. Verse 29, "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe." Believe in what? "Believe that I am the Messiah." You see, he knew that their faith was beginning to waver a bit on this essential truth. They weren't looking for a suffering Messiah, they were looking for a conquering Messiah so they could not harmonize in their mind a Messiah that is going to die, that is going to leave them. So their faith begins to waver a bit, in fact, Jesus repeatedly rebuked them on the matter of their faith causing them to say in Luke 17:5, "Increase our faith." I can certainly identify with that. I might also add that fulfilled prophecy is perhaps the most profound measure of the veracity and the inspiration of Scripture. There is no other document in all the world other than the Bible that makes so many prophetic claims and so many claims that have been proven precisely which basically verifies the fact that it is the inspired word of the sovereign God who wrote it.

Now, Jesus used this same phrase, this idea of, "I've told you before it happens so that when it happens you may believe." He used the same phrase when he warned the disciples about his betrayal at the hands of Judas in John 13:19. He says, "From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He." Jesus knew that once his predictions came true, their wavering faith would be greatly strengthened. You will also recall in John 2:19-21, Jesus predicted his death and resurrection, again, concepts that the disciples just could not grasp. And later in verse 22 he says, "When He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken." It's like, "Oh, now we get it! Now we understand what he was talking about. Isn't it great that he told us these things before they happened?"

Later in chapter 16, beginning in verse 1, Jesus predicted the persecution that would come upon the disciples. Then in verse 4 he says to them, "But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them." What a great way to strengthen their faith. Yet despite all of these warnings, it's virtually impossible for the disciples to fully embrace the truth of what Jesus promised pertaining to his death and his resurrection. However, John records a wonderful scene that shows how Jesus' word was later confirmed in the life of John as well as Peter. In chapter 20, verses 8 and 9, John says that when he and Peter went and discovered the empty tomb, "They saw and believed for as yet they did not understand the Scripture that he must rise again from the dead."

So Jesus knew that because of the cross, the mysterious and magnificent truths of which he spoke would all eventually be fulfilled and therefore confirm his word and ultimately strengthen the faith of all who believe. But thirdly, Jesus also knew that because of his death on the cross, his enemy would be defeated. Verse 30, "I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." Now, Jesus is going to go on and discuss a variety of things with them as they make their way out of Jerusalem up to the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, but Jesus knew that in an hour or so, Satan would be bringing his entourage, so to speak, to arrest him. Maybe in a few hours but certainly it was coming. He also knew that Satan had just about an hour before entered Judas. So Jesus knew Satan's plan to arrest him. He knew about the betrayal that was coming. He knew that the members of the Sanhedrin were already salivating to get their hands on him. He knew that the temple police and the Roman soldiers had already been assembled or they were being assembled. He knew that their torches and their lanterns had been lit. He knew that their weapons had been readied. He knew that all of the preparations were set in place so that they could hunt down this vicious criminal, Jesus Christ. So indeed, the ruler of the world is coming. Beloved, it's as though Jesus could hear the wings of that awful dragon swooping through the air. It's as though he could hear his talons clanging and clicking on the cobblestones. It's as though he could smell his awful stench. If you think about it, intrinsic to his consummate perfections as the holy one of Israel, was his omniscient ability to detect evil.

So indeed, the ruler of the world is coming but notice, he says, "He has nothing in Me." A double negative in the original language denoting it is an emphatic declaration, "He has nothing in Me. Nothing. End of discussion." This was actually a Greek translation of a Hebrew idiom meaning, "He has no justifiable legal claim on me. There is no justification for what is about to happen to me." Jesus was the sinless Son of God. He said that he was not of this world. He had never sinned. In fact, we know that Pilate will later say to him, "I find no guilt in him." So Jesus is assuring the disciples beforehand that the enemy has no legal claim on him that would justify what was about to happen. So this was also a word of consolation to the disciples, even though they're not going to fully understand it until after his death, after his resurrection and after the Spirit of God comes upon them at Pentecost.

Now, an important note: this is the second of 3 references in John's Gospel where John refers to Satan as the ruler of the world. We know in 2 Corinthians 4, Paul refers to him as the God of this age and the God of this world. John will later on say that the whole world lies in the lap of the evil one and so forth. And to be sure, Satan rules this evil world in a limited way but you must be careful, it is the testimony of Scripture that God is the sovereign ruler over all, including Satan. In the Providence of God, Satan has been allowed to be a temporary usurper. As Luther put it, "Satan is God's ape," and God allows him to do what he does until the Lord Jesus Christ returns as King of kings. So Satan does rule but only in the sense of ruling sinful men who unwittingly and sometimes wittingly obey him.

So he plots to thwart the purposes of God through his diabolical deeds, especially through the temptation and the possession of evil men and women. Scripture teaches us that originally the devil was created a perfect angelic being, one that served God but because of pride, he wanted to be equal to God in status and authority so God removed him from his lofty position along with a third of the angels who chose to follow him in his rebellion. So what's fascinating is to realize that before man was ever created, there was a spiritual war going on between God and Satan and it continues to this very day along with Satan's demonic horde.

As you know, at the beginning of human history, Satan chose to launch an attack against God by challenging his authority over God's first created human beings that were created to give God glory. And after Satan's successful effort to tempt Adam and Eve to sin and lead the world into sin, God promised that that warfare would continue throughout redemptive history but that ultimately he would gain the victory, that God would vanquish his fiendish foe. We read about this promise in Genesis 3:15. There it says, "And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed." "Your seed" refers to Satan and unbelievers. Remember, Jesus said in John 8:44 that the unbelievers are the devil's children. So he's going to put enmity between "your seed" in other words Satan and unbelievers, and "her seed," which speaks of Christ Jesus, a descendent of Eve and all who belong to him through faith. "He shall bruise you," in other words, Satan, "on the head," in other words, the seed of Eve, the Lord Jesus Christ, is going to give Satan a fatal blow. "And you shall bruise him," in other words, Satan will bruise Jesus, the Son of God, "on the heel." So Satan could only cause Christ to suffer temporary injury but he could not defeat him. This is often called the proto-euangelion, the first Gospel. And it is good news, is it not, that among all the magnificent blessings that belong to us through faith in Christ and his work on the cross, one of the greatest blessings is that fatal blow that he delivered to Satan along with sin and death that came from him. John 12:31, Jesus spoke of his impending death and he said this, "Now is the judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out." And years later, John would reflect upon this aspect of Christ's incarnation, reflect upon his death, and he would say in 1 John 3:8, "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil."

Dear friends, the implications of this for us as believers is staggering. Because we are united to Christ, the victory is ours. Paul tells us that God "has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son," Colossians 1:13. However, you must understand that we cannot experience the fullness of that triumph just yet. The battle still rages. We live in a tension between the "already" and the "not yet," alright? To be sure, Jesus' death on the cross and his bodily resurrection was Satan's death blow. He has disarmed principalities and powers. Remember, he made a public spectacle of them; he triumphed over them in Colossians 2:15. But the final triumph awaits his return so today we live between the cross and the crown. Today Peter warns us, "to be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." It is for this reason the Apostle Paul goes to great lengths to warn us to, "put on the full armor of God that you might be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil," Ephesians 6:11. We're going to look at some of this in a few minutes.

So Jesus knows that the horrific hatred of the enemy was about to be vented upon the seed of the woman and he also knew that he was about to give Satan that fata blow so he makes this amazing statement, "The ruler of the world is coming and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here." In other words, "Satan has no legal claim against me, no justification for what is about to happen, nevertheless, I will not resist him. I am going to go forth boldly, I'm going to allow his cohorts to come and to arrest me and the reason I will do this is so that the world may know that I love the Father."

Jesus knew that because of his death on the cross, his glory would be restored, his word would be confirmed, his enemy would be defeated, and finally, his love would be manifested. Jesus will voluntarily lay down his life and in John 10:18, he said, "This commandment I received from My Father." It's important for us to understand that Jesus' voluntary death manifested his love primarily for his Father and only secondarily for us. If I can put it this way: we are only secondary to God's work of redemption. So often we tend to see ourselves as kind of the center of gravity around which the whole Godhead orbits, that we are just so special. But I don't want you to think that there was some deficiency within the Triune Godhead, between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that could only be remedied by our salvation. Scripture tells us that before time began, there was an arranged marriage. God chose a spotless bride, pure and holy, to give to his Son, the elect of his grace. Then according to Scripture, we see that he set this plan into motion to reconcile some but not all unto himself. In 2 Timothy 1:9 we read that he, "saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." Literally, before time began.

You see, while we are all debtors to God's grace, while we as believers are all the objects of his eternal love, we are only incidental to the purposes of his great plan of redemption. Beloved, you must understand: he did not save us primarily for our glory but for his. The divine plan of redemption is essentially about inter-Trinitarian love and inter-Trinitarian glory. We are only secondary in all of that. To put it differently: in eternity past, the Father promised the Son a love gift, a bride, that of a redeemed humanity. And when all of redemptive history is consummated, we read ultimately that the Son is going to return that gift back to the Father as a reciprocal expression of his love. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:24, "when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power." Verse 28, "When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all."

Now, back to John's narrative. As Jesus yields to Satan and the satanic acts of men, he does so because of his love for the Father, a love that is manifested by his perfect obedience to do the will of his Father. His Father has commanded him to go and to die, to redeem and so forth. I might add that obedience is always the test of love. Obedience is always what validates genuine saving faith. Not some profession of faith, not walking an aisle, praying a prayer. Those things may or may not be indicative of true faith but what really proves faith is a person who is obedient to the word and the will of God. And even his torturers are going to know down deep that Jesus' strange acquiescence, especially given his innocence, to all of these terrible things can only be explained by something far beyond humility. It can only be explained by a supernatural love, a love for his Father which he stated over and over and over again.

So he says, "but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here." And with this, they left the upper room, they exited the city. Geographically, they would have walked around the front part of the temple. They would have gone down the Kidron valley. They would have crossed the brook Kidron that would've already been running red with the blood of the sacrifices that were draining from the temple up above, a vivid reminder to the Lord Jesus of his blood that would be shed the next day. Then they would have made their way up the side of the Mount of Olives to one of their favorite places of seclusion called the garden of Gethsemane and there Jesus will pray, will sweat drops of blood and be arrested.

Now, I wish to leave that narrative at some level and use part of it as a catalyst to speak to you about this issue of spiritual warfare that I alluded to from what Jesus said concerning the ruler of this world and him knowing that he's coming. Once again, as I said earlier, Jesus' death on the cross and bodily resurrection was Satan's death blow but the final triumph awaits a future day. It waits his return and then when he returns, we will be able to fully realize our victory in Christ. Paul says in Romans 16:20, "The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly." We're waiting for the fruition of that. But today, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities.

There is a conflict, a very personal conflict going on between believers and Satan and his minions and we read about this in Ephesians 6. I wish you would turn there for a moment. While you're turning there, let me ask you the question: are you aware of this battle? Are your children aware of it? Now granted, a drunk can fall off of a horse on either side. One side of this horse is to see demons in everything and to blame everything on the devil but the other side of that horse is to believe that he is not around and that there is no war going on. The question is: are you aware that there is a battle? Do you take seriously the Spirit's command in 1 Peter 5:8 to, "be alert because our enemy, the devil, is seeking to devour us"? Do you take serious the fact that Satan has a very well organized, demonic horde and he has you on his hit-list? Are you aware that Satan and his minions watch this church intently? Are you aware that he is constantly trying to destroy me as your pastor and the elders? I could tell you stories that some of you might not believe and then I could tell you others that you probably would believe. He wants to destroy this church. He wants to destroy you. He wants to destroy your children. He wants to destroy your marriage. And he is constantly scheming to do just that. He wants to make your life a mockery so that you will be miserable, so that you will be ineffective, so that you will not bear fruit and so that unsaved people will look at you and say, "Ha, look at what the Gospel did for that person. I want nothing to do with it."

Well, I believe the Spirit of God would have me address this issue briefly and the watershed passage on this is in Ephesians 6:10 through 20. Let me give you some background and I'm only going to hit the highlights but hopefully it will be enough to minister to your soul. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is divided into 2 parts. You have the doctrinal followed by the practical; he builds upon the doctrinal with the practical. So he begins with the indicatives, those doctrinal declarations of what God has done for us in Christ and then he follows them with the imperatives, the practical truths concerning how we should live out our lives. By way of background, what we have is the saints in Ephesus had been saved out of a very demonic culture. Ephesus was the third-largest city in the Roman Empire. It was a hotbed for magicians and sorcerers and every imaginable kind of charlatan. The dominant religion was the cult of Artemis Ephesia which was a multi-breasted idol located in the Artemision which was a marble temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis. It measured 93,500 square feet. It was surrounded by 127 marble pillars that stood 60 feet high. It was a place of unimaginable debauchery and orgies and so forth and demonic worship. You will recall that when Paul brought the Gospel to Ephesus, many pagan idolaters believed and came to Christ. In Acts 19 we read that, "many of those who had practiced magic burned their books in the sight of all. They counted up the value and it totaled 50,000 pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed." The text goes on to say that so many folks stopped buying idols that a riot broke out because these guys weren't able to sell those things anymore. It was ruining the economy.

So Paul now comforts these Ephesian believers by reminding them in the first half of the book of Ephesians of who they are in Christ but then he addresses the very real spiritual battle that he knew that they faced, that he knew we all faced and that is the spiritual battle with Satan. So he has an imperative here that he builds on the indicative. Verse 10, "Finally," here it is, here's what you've got to do, folks, "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." In other words, "realize that you are at war and be constantly strengthened by him because you do not have the power to engage in this battle on your own." You've got to know that you are at war. You've got to know, dear friends, that his divine power is granted to us, all things pertaining to life and godliness. And so you must learn to constantly rehearse the truth of who Christ is and who you are in him and on this basis, depend upon his power, indeed, beg for it every single day or you will not stand. You must know that he is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think and then you will be able to stand your ground in the strength of his might.

Verse 11, "put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." I ask you: what soldier goes into battle without his armor and without his weapon? A soldier that is about to get defeated. We are to put on the full armor of God which means to consciously appropriate all that God is and all that he has given us in Christ. Clothe yourself with all that God has supplied. He is your armor. Live every moment in oneness with him. Deliberately live in the light of his glory. Cultivate the virtues of Christ in your life. And on and on it goes.

Let me put it real practically: dear friend, if you are ignorant, worse yet, if you are indifferent to Bible doctrine, especially the truths of soteriology, the doctrines of salvation, then your armor is paper thin. I see this all the time. Let me give you a little quiz. Do you understand depravity? Grace? Election? Do you understand calling? Do you understand the atonement? Do you understand faith? Repentance? Conversion? Do you understand your union with Christ? Do you understand justification and regeneration and sanctification? Do you understand the perseverance of the saints? Do you understand glorification? For a lot of Christians, those words are almost meaningless and those are the ones that are going to suffer defeat because they're not wearing any armor. You're walking through ISIS territory wearing a bathing suit while you're playing video games on your smart phone. You're not only stupid, dear friends, you're defenseless and you're living in rebellion. I want you to hear that. That is to live in rebellion against a holy God who has commanded you to put on your armor. Why? So that you would be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Stand firm does not mean so that you can rebuke demons, so that you can bind demons, so that you can cast out demons, so that you can topple fortresses and reclaim territories that demons have taken or so forth. Stand firm means so that you can hold your ground even under attack. So that you will not yield. So that you will not allow the enemy to have any part of you, occupy even the slightest part of your life. 1 Peter 5:8, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world." James says, "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Beloved, there is never a day that I do not go before the Lord and ask him to help me see where the next attack is coming on my mind and on my heart and on my family and on my church family. As a pastor, I'm a warrior and you need to be the same. I'm always engaged in the battle. I'm always looking for the next troublemaker or false teacher that the enemy is going to bring into this church. By the way, the main place to look for Satan is not in the culture, look for him in the church. I'm always looking to see who is going to be the next celebrity pastor or best-selling author that the enemy will use to spread lies to deceive souls. I'm always looking for the next church growth strategy that he will introduce to attract crowds and at the same time, eviscerate the Gospel. I'm always looking for who is going to be the next deceiver that the enemy will introduce to my family or popularize through the media to seduce my children. Who is going to be the next friend they will bring in their house, that the enemy will place there to destroy them. What's going to be the next fad or the next television series or the next electronic device that he will use to draw them away from Christ.

Beloved, if this is not your heart attitude, you are losing ground to the enemy. You are vulnerable. In fact, you're probably already suffering major defeat in your family because you don't know. You're not looking for those schemes of the devil which refers to cunning plans that he brings to ruin you. Satan is both brilliant and patient. He's constantly bringing false teachers to deceive you. There are a myriad of schemes that he uses. Some of them are designed especially for you and your family, for me and my family. You use different tactics to kill a bear than you do an elk. You do different tactics to catch a catfish than you do a crappie. The enemy knows what he must do to destroy you and me. He fills churches with tares. He causes unbelievers to become leaders in churches. They are ignorant. They are arrogant. They are ungodly men. I've seen him use the scheme of unforgiveness in this church. Paul warned about this in 2 Corinthians 2:11, we are to be forgiving in order "that no advantage be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes."

Some of you have been seduced by the temptations of sexual immorality through pornography. Some of you are being seduced because you are naïve and undiscerning about certain friends that you come in contact with. Some have been tricked into loving the world until you become like it. He has tempted some of you to become so busy and so broke you can't serve Christ. Satan is ingenious, dear friends. He lays these snares in the well-worn paths of our lusts. His favorite tactic is deception. We saw that in the garden. He causes us to question the goodness of God. He starts distorting the word. Before you know it, we don't really understand who God really is. The person and the work of Christ is maligned and then he uses persecution to make us think that God is no longer good and that he's not faithful. My friends, because of Satan's schemes, some of you resent authority. Some of you can't maintain relationships. Some of you complain about virtually everything. Because Satan has tempted you, some of you are hyper-vigilant to find fault in others and yet you can't see the log in your own eye. Some of you are physically and spiritually lazy. Some of you are so desperate for attention and affirmation you spend your whole life on Facebook. Some of you are oblivious to the fact that your children are undisciplined and on a path to self-destruction. And some of you refuse to acknowledge that your marriage is a sham. Therefore you don't realize the schemes of the enemy.

Paul will go on to say that you've got to put on this armor, "gird up your loins with truth." In other words, be standing ready to fight at all times, constantly studying and applying the word of God, living out those truths by the power of the Spirit. He says, "Then put on the breastplate of righteousness." You've got to protect your heart, dear friends, against the assault of the enemy. So you have to rejoice in the imputed righteousness of Christ that is yours but also in the imparted righteousness of Christ. You have to live that out by the power of the Spirit. He says that you have to have "your feet shod with the preparation of the peace of the Gospel," which means that you are to always be ready to proclaim and to protect the Gospel lest you give ground to the enemy. He says that you need to, "take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one." In other words, you have got to learn to trust in the Lord come what may and with that unwavering confidence, you will not be hit by those flaming arrows of doubt and discouragement and defeat. "Take up the helmet of salvation," in other words, understand who you are in Christ and live in light of those glorious promises so that the enemy cannot attack your mind. "Take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God," in other words, know how to effectively wield the word of God, that sword, both offensively and defensively. Then, "with all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit," in other words, by the help of the Spirit, go before the Lord with great confidence, knowing that ultimately the victory is yours but you need his strength and his wisdom and power lest you give way to the enemy.

You say, "Pastor, I am deficient in this area." You know, that's so good to hear. If that's the case, it is good that you would acknowledge that. Here's what you do: you go before the Lord and you repent. You ask him to help you to understand better these great truths. Get serious then about living and learning the word. Find someone to disciple you. We have all of these opportunities in this church and some of you don't take advantage of any of it and so your armor and your weapons, you're weak, you're vulnerable. So take advantage of these things and then be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. May the Spirit of God cause us to be sober to these truths lest we suffer defeat.

Let's pray together.

Father, we give you praise for your word because it speaks so clearly to our hearts, but Lord, because of our weakness, because of our flesh, we simply cannot live it out apart from the power of your Spirit so we plead for that power. We pray, Lord, that each one of us would re-examine our hearts, our lives, in light of what we've heard today that in our lives Christ might have the preeminence in every area. We give you thanks, we give you praise for the victory that is ours that we will one day celebrate for it is in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen.


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