This is an excellent and very important question, for the answer to it will confirm one in the truth that Jesus Christ is both God and true Man. It will also refute the teachings of those who deny that Jesus Christ is God the Son. They often use this verse as one of their “proof texts” in support of their error.

John 14:28 says, “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 the Father is greater than I.” The simple answer to this statement, “the Father is greater than I,” is that Jesus is speaking as a Man, and not as God. He had been sent to this earth by the Father, and in love and grace had become a Man in order to provide salvation for lost and guilty man. In His becoming a Man, He had taken a POSITION that was inferior to the Father, though PERSONALLY He was still God, and thus equal to God the Father. It’s vital to see that the Son of God humbled Himself in becoming a Man and a servant, and in this sense alone was His Father greater than He.

Let’s look at Philippians 2:5-8, for that passage teaches us the truth we have just considered. It reads, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (NASB). Paul was exhorting the believers at Philippi to be humble and in these verses he sets before them the supreme example of one humbling himself. He puts before them Christ Jesus, Who before He humbled Himself “existed in the form of God.” That simply means that before His incarnation HE WAS GOD! John 1:1 speaks to this, for it states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Yet this One who was God “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” What does that mean? Here is where we MUST see the difference between PERSONAL EQUALITY and POSITIONAL EQUALITY. As to Christ’s PERSON, He always WAS, IS, and WILL BE equal with God the Father. But the Son of God was willing to leave the POSITION He had in heaven with the Father, where He enjoyed all the glories of heaven along with His Father. He did NOT consider that POSITIONAL EQUALITY something that He had to hold on to; He was willing to give it up temporarily in order to become mankind’s Savior and Redeemer! The Father never left His position in heaven; He never became a Man or a Servant, but God the Son was willing to take “the form of a bond-servant” and to be “made in the likeness of men.” And that wasn’t all, for then we read that “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” What love and condescending grace is seen in these precious words! It should draw out the heart of every believer in eternal praise and adoration to the Son of God, for His being willing to leave those heights of glory and to go down into death for us!

In conclusion, we have seen that those words spoken in John 14:28 refer to the inferior POSITION the Son of God took as a true Man and as a perfect Servant, and as the One who would lay His perfect life down on the cross for our redemption. Yet PERSONALLY He never ceased to be God, and was thus co-equal with God the Father in every way. This is what was meant in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.” (156.6) (DO)