Muslims often quote John 14:28, “…the Father is greater than I…” to prove that Jesus denied His Deity.

I don’t understand how could they use John 14 to prove Jesus is not divine? When in:

Verse 2, Jesus called God His Father which they don’t believe.

Verse 6, Jesus called Himself THE Truth and THE Life which are the attributes of God.

Verse 13-14, Jesus claimed to be able to answer prayers, which a mere prophet cannot.

Verse 23, Jesus said He will indwell the believers, which only God can do.

Verse 26, He said the Father will send the Comforter IN His (Jesus) Name.

They say that Jesus cannot be co-equal with the Father if He said the Father is greater than Him.

The word “greater” can be used in two senses:

1.      It could be used for someone who is better in essence as well as in position and rank. For instance, I am greater than my cat.

2.      It could also be used to refer to someone who holds a higher office or status. For example, the employer is greater than the employee. However, both the employer and the employee are fully human, and they both have the same human value and dignity in the eyes of God.

When Jesus said the Father is greater than I, did He mean that the Father is better that Him in essence not superior to Him in rank? Or did He mean that the Father is greater than Him by virtue of His status in heaven?  Because when Jesus uttered these words He was on earth and had assumed the status, the position of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8).

How do we know the answer?

The way that we can find out what Jesus meant is by examining the context of the verse itself.

In John 14:12-14, He said to His disciples,

12. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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.
13. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Notice what He said in verse 12, not only will they do works that I do but they will do greater than these. The same Greek word for “greater” used in John 14:12, is later on Jesus used in verse 28.

Here, “greater” can not mean greater in terms of quality that the disciples will be doing better works than Jesus. “Greater” can only mean in terms of quantity. They will be doing more miracles than Jesus did but they will be performing the same kind of miracles that Jesus did while He was on earth.

How do we know that?

Because of the line before that, the preceding sentence says, “…He that believeth on me, the works tha I do shall he do also…” Notice that it’s the same works that Jesus has been doing but a greater number of them. That makes sense; after all, the disciples spread the Gospel throughout the entire world, reach more people and did more miracles than Jesus did when He was on earth. But Jesus gave the reason why they’ll be able to do greater miracles than Him: because “I am going to the Father”.

So what’s the connection?

Verses 13-14 give us the answer:

 13. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Here, Jesus says, “If you ask ME”, in other words, pray to me directly and I will do it personally and He did not say, “The Father will do it” but He Himself will do it!

Here Jesus not only is making Himself an object of prayer which would be blasphemy if He was a mere creature. After all, the Bible and the Qur’an agree that all petitions, all invocations must be directed to God alone because God alone can answer all prayers…but Jesus said, “They can pray to Him directly and He will do it”.

In saying that He is able to hear all prayers directed to Him and in answering all of them Jesus is presupposing the Omni-attribute of God. He is saying, He knows all those who pray, what they are praying about, the location of where they are praying from etc…

In order for Jesus to personally guarantee that He will answer all the prayers offered to Him, He must have the ability to fulfil all requests. However, only God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. Yet, Jesus’ statements here in John 14 presuppose that He was all of these things [i.e. omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent].

He went on to reiterate that He has these essential divine attribute in John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we (Father and Me) will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” In other words, just like the Father, He too will indwell those who love Him. Not only He’s claiming to be omnipresent but He also is claiming to be present with every believer in the same sense and to the same degree that the Father is.

In saying that, Jesus shows that He believes that He was co-equal with the Father in essence and nature, that He is as present with every believer as the Father is. Therefore, He is as omnipresent as the Father is; something that no mere creature could utter.

To conclude all this, in John 14:28 Jesus could not be saying that the Father IS greater than Him in essence and nature.

If Jesus is claiming to be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and only God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, than Jesus is clearly claiming to be God. If He is clearly God then He is co-equal with the Father in essence and nature.

So then in what sense is the Father greater than the Son?

John 17:5 gives us the answer, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I HAD with thee before the world was.”

Here Jesus claims that He shares the very divine glory that the Father has and He shared this with the Father even before the world was created. Yet, while on earth, He set aside this glory.

Let’s re-examine John 14:28 one more time and connect it with 17:5 to see the connection:

“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.”

In light of 17:5 it’s obvious why Jesus said what He said in 14:28. The point to the disciples is this, “If I remain on earth, the Father will be greater than me IN TERMS OF GLORY AND STATUS”.

Why?

Because Jesus already told this in 17:5 that He set aside the very divine glory that He had with the Father before the world was in order to come to the earth and redeem His people from their sins.

However, once He returns to the Father, He will once again receive that glory which was His which He voluntarily set aside.

So basically, what Jesus was telling the disciples is this, “if you love me, then you will desire for me to return to glory  and cease to be on earth because while I’m on earth I will continue in the state of humiliation but if I will return to the Father, not only will the Father no longer be greater than I, I will be basking in the very divine glory that the Father possesses which belongs to me and the glory I had with Him before the world began.”

That’s what Jesus meant when He said the Father is greater than I. NOT in terms of essence and nature but in terms of status and glory.

In Hebrews 1:8, God the Father Himself calls Jesus God:

“But unto the Son (Jesus) he (the Father) saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”

And that, “For it pleased the Father that in him (Jesus) should all fullness dwell– Colossians 1:19

For in him (Jesus) dwelleth all fulness of the Godhead bodily – Colossians 2:9

Finally, it is ironic that Muslims will point to John 14:28 to try to disprove the Deity of Jesus when this passage actually proves that Islam can’t be a revelation from the True God. Notice what Jesus said, He will return to the Father.

However, according to the Qur’an Allah is Father to no one and he definitely is not the Father of Jesus Christ (Qur’an 5:18, 9:30, 6:101, 19:80-93), which means Muhammad denied the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22-23); therefore he (Muhammad) cannot be a true prophet from God.

So it’s ironic that the passage they try to disprove Christianity actually ends up prove that Islam is false!

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