Jesus Christ is often quoted saying, ". . .I am the way, the truth, and the life. . .", in churches all over the world among those who profess Christianity. This statement is believed by millions to be at the center of their spiritual lives as they understand it. But, was Jesus claiming to be the Supreme ruler of the universe? It is important for us to know what the Bible teaches about the role of Jesus Christ and God the Father.
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I'd like to begin with you today, if you'd turn with me to John 14:1, the words of Jesus Christ. This is a very familiar scripture in professing Christendom; it's read a lot; it's preached about a lot; it's one of the central scriptures I think of many who profess Christianity. Jesus said, this is the last night of His human life; He was talking with His disciples:
John 14:1 - "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in , believe also in Me." This is what Christ said, and as I said, it is what is emphasized in much of professing Christianity. "Believe in Jesus," and it's absolutely true; it's absolutely essential; it's absolutely correct, because He said it, and He is truth.
A little bit later, down in John 14:6, Jesus still speaking:
John 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth, and the life." An all encompassing, definite, hugely important statement about His own role in the lives of those who would believe, in believers. He said, "I am the way. . ." so there is no other way. He didn't say I am "a way." "I am the way, the truth. . ." You know, you read the comments of many down through the ages, the last two thousand years, and they said, "This was either God or a madman speaking." What human possessed of a right mind would say something like that? "I am the truth." All truth in the universe is encompassed in Me. Either the words of a God or a madman. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." You know, entire sermons could be developed around every aspect of that statement. This statement of Jesus Christ, just like the first one, "Believe in Me. . .I am the way, the truth, and the life. . ." is quoted often in churches all over the world among those who profess Christianity. I believe that this statement, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," is believed by millions of people.
It is central to their spiritual understanding; it's at the center of their spiritual lives as they understand it, of many, many who profess to be Christians.
Well, after His death and resurrection, these same disciples that He had made these statement to began professing their faith, their belief to others. So we go over to the book of Acts, and we see one of the first sermons given by one of these disciples, now called apostles, in the early days of the New Testament church. Right after Pentecost, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and he spoke up in Acts 4:12, and he told the high priest and other leaders in Jerusalem. This was a public statement. Now early on in the life of the church, early on in the ministry of the apostle, Peter, you would think that he would be saying, and you would think Luke who is the author or the chronicler of the early days of the church would be recording essential things, not peripheral things, but essential, hugely important things. So what is it that Peter was saying? I want to pick it up a little bit earlier here. He's talking to the Sanhedrin. Let's go back to Acts 4:5:
Acts 4:5 - "It came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,
Verse 6 - "as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem." So this was the elite, the top of the power structure in Judaism there in Jerusalem.
Verse 7 - "And when they had set them. . ." that is the apostles. . . "in the midst, they asked, 'By what power or by what name have you done this?'
Verse 8 - "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, 'Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
Verse 9 - "If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man," (of course there had been a healing and it had caused all kinds of uproar,) "by what means he has been made well.
Verse 10 - "Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole." This, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One who said, "Believe on Me," the One who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life,"
Verse 11 - "This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone."
Verse 12 - "Nor is there salvation in any other," Now another all-inclusive statement by Peter. Just as Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, believe in Me. . ." There is salvation, there is spiritual eternal life in no other way, in no other name possible, is what Peter is saying, " for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
A little bit later still we turn over to Acts 8, still early in the story, and now we see Philip. Philip was directed by an angel to meet the treasurer of the nation of Ethiopia, and we come down in Acts 8 and let's see what Philip was saying, what was central to what he was talking about.
Now, of course in a very limited history, the length of the book of Acts only, I would say the most important things in the formative years of the church was there room to record. So, again, these are essential things, that which was at the heart and the core of what Christ was inspiring the apostles to state in their public ministry. So we come to Acts 8:25, we pick it up:
Acts 8:25 - "So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Verse 26 - "Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, 'Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.' This is desert.
Verse 27 - "So he arose and went." He was obedient to the heavenly or the angelic assignment that he was given. "And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a enunch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship." Evidence that treasurers are very spiritually minded individuals and constantly pursuing truth. In his spare time, he was reading the Bible.
Verse 28 - "He was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet."
Verse 29 - "Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go near and overtake this chariot.'
Verse 30 - "So Philip ran to him. . ." There are all kinds of commentary - how do you outrun a horse-drawn chariot, but anyway. . . "and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and he said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' " No, he didn't understand what he was reading, but he was trying.
Verse 31 - " 'How can I, (understand) unless someone guides me?' And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
Verse 32 - "The place in the Scripture which he read was this: 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, He opened not His mouth.' " Now we know who that's speaking of, but the Ethiopian didn't; he needed to be taught.
Verse 33 - "In his humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.'
Verse 34 - "So the Eunuch answered Philip and said, 'I ask you, (who is this?) of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?' Now notice Verse 35:
Verse 35 - "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning (began) at this Scripture. . ." This was his launching point to give a whole sermon, and he ". . .preached. . ." What? ". . .he preached Jesus to him."
Verse 37 - "Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all our heart, you may.' " May be what? "Be baptized. And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' " And of course, at that point he was baptized.
A little bit later still in Acts 9, we've seen Jesus' own words about the centrality of Himself to those who would have eternal life; we see the disciples; we see Philip; we saw Peter, and now we see Paul, the former enemy of the church, Saul, the persecutor now become Paul, the disciple. Over here in Acts 9, he was struck down on the way to Damascus as we know by the heavenly vision. He heard a voice; he was blinded by it, and he was changed. He was a changed man, and notice this summary of what he did. Acts 9:20.
Acts 9:20 - "Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God." That's the summary statement of everything he preached right after his receiving his sight back, receiving the Holy Spirit and becoming a disciple, he preached the Christ, who is Jesus of Nazareth.
And now as we take this short tour through the early days of the church and what was central to the message of the disciples, I want to now turn over to Ephesians 1 with you. It's the same man, Paul, now writing a letter to one of the churches he had raised up, and we go to Ephesians 1, and we'll pick it up in the middle of the thought, Ephesians 1:21. He's talking about an individual who is far above, not just above, but far above, not anywhere close, second and first place aren't anywhere close, he's far above all principality; now notice these absolute statements. It's as if Paul was straining to come up with a vocabulary that could express the thought that he wanted, the all-encompassing greatness of this individual:
Ephesians 1:21 - "Far above all principality. . ." Okay there's the thought of government or authority, you see, ". . .above all principality and power. . ." The source of power, far above any other being in that. ". . .and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
Verse 22 - "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him. . ." That is this individual who is far above all others, ". . .He gave Him to be head over all things to the church,
Verse 23 - "which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." So we have seen multiple testimonies, and there are many more that we could have turned to, multiple testimonies to the greatness and the majesty and what I would say is the centrality of Jesus Christ, and all of this testimony to the greatness of Jesus Christ is absolutely true; it is important to understand. But what is equally true and important is to understand what Christ Himself, the object of all this veneration, says about Himself especially as it relates to His Father. The Father.
I want to spend a little time with you today in the sermon looking at what Christ, Himself, said about the Father. Having laid the groundwork of how central Christ is, how important Christ is, how worthy of worship Christ is, let's see what this Great One who is worthy of all this worship Himself says. John 14. We've seen by His own testimony that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that of his disciples, and that there is no other name under heaven whereby men must be saved, all right, so that points us to Christ. Now let's see what this one who is the focus of all this says Himself.
John 14:28 - He said, "You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' " And we all long for the day when Jesus will return in great power and glory. "If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father. . .' " And this is the part of it I want us to focus on for a few minutes. ". . .for My Father is greater than I.' " So even by His own testimony, He is the way, the truth the life, the One whom we should have trust and who we should believe. It is the only name under heaven whereby men might be saved, and He's the head of all things to the church, once He has our attention, He deflects our attention to the One He says is greater than He. "My Father is greater than I."
This truth from Christ's own lips, I don't believe is as well understood, or as often spoken about in many circles among many who profess to be Christians, ". . .My Father is greater than I." What a simple statement.
Now we might step back and wonder in what sense is the Father greater than Christ? Is He greater in longevity? Is He greater in composition? Is He greater in purity of character? I think the answer to all those three questions from the Bible is - No, No, and No. Is He greater in longevity? Now there are those who believe, even in professing Christianity, that Christ is a created, or was a created being. So I am not just making that up. There are those who profess to be Christians but who believe that there was a time in past eternity when there was only the one we know as the Father, and that by an act of creation, the first act of creation, this one we know as the Father brought the one we know as Christ, the Word into existence. But that is not in accordance with the scriptural testimony.
Christ and the Father are co-eternal, you know, eternity in both directions, back and future by the testimony of scripture. There has never been a time when only the Father existed, but not the Word, the Word, the name for the preincarnate Christ.
Let's go to a few scriptures that show that. Now, we can start at the most basic one. Language is a limiting factor; our minds are obviously very limited when it comes to matters of eternity because we have finite mortal minds. We have a little bit of the Spirit of God which is eternal in us, but it's so difficult to even come up with language, and that's even true in the scripture itself. The Bible writers had to be inspired by God to use language that does communicate, and there are limitations even in language, but when we put all of the scriptures together, we come to the conclusion that Christ and the Father are co-eternal. So when He says, "My Father is greater than I," it doesn't mean that He lived before I did and then He brought me into existence. That would certainly have been a way, if the scripture testified that the Father brought the Son into existence from a previous state of not existing; He was a created being, then clearly He would have been "greater" than He in that sense.
But John 1:1, the Book of John, the man, John, was inspired, I think, to give us more understanding of the Godhead, more understanding of the nature of God than any other writer in the Bible. And I guess that's one reason why God let him live so long and die apparently a natural death, rather than a martyr's death because by the time of 90 or close to 100 A.D. there had been so much heresy that had been injected into the early New Testament church that there was one last remaining original disciple, apostle, that was there to combat that, at least in his writings. You wonder in person how much he was able to combat because some of that time he was locked up in prison on the Isle of Patmos. But at least, in his writings, he combated a lot of heretical teaching about the Godhead. We see it in his epistles; I think we see it in Revelation; we certainly see it in what we call the gospel of John, or the gospel of the kingdom of God but inspired by John in this account.
Now in the very first verse, it says:
John 1:1 - "In the beginning was the Word. . ." So there wasn't a time before there was the Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "And the Word was God." And Mr. Armstrong, I don't think you can improve on the metaphor, or the analogy to this statement that he used to use so often, and I'm sure many of you remember; it just makes it so clear - this verse focuses our attention on the sense in which we can make the statement - God is a family. There is also a sense in which the word, God in our understanding, sometimes refers directly to the Father part of that family. But it is a very Biblically accurate and justifiable statement to say, "God is a family."
When I was a little kid, my dad took me to a baseball game. So let me tell you about that baseball game. At that game in the stands was Tom Kirkpatrick, and Tom Kirkpatrick was with Bob Kirkpatrick. And Tom Kirkpatrick was Kirkpatrick. You see, the family name is Kirkpatrick. Tom is one member of that family, and Bob, my father, was another member of that family, and the family name is Kirkpatrick. The family name in this context is God. You cannot understand verse 1 other than to see a family, and God being the family name. How else does it make any sense that the Word was with God; how can you be with somebody, clearly, another being, and be that being unless it's talking about Tom was with Kirkpatrick and Tom is Kirkpatrick. It is a family, and this verse alone leads us inevitably, I think, to that conclusion. So Christ, the preincarnate Word, was God; He was a part of the God family and therefore is co-eternal with God. If God, the Father is eternal, then Christ must also, the Word, must also be eternal.
I want to spend a few minutes on this point. I John 1. Now as I said, the apostle John wrote more about the nature of God, the Godhead, and it was in the writings of John that so much mischief took place a number of years ago, but these statements. . .you know, Jesus once said, "I thank you, Father, that you have revealed these things to babes, but have hidden it from the wise and prudent." Average people like you and me can read these words and have profound spiritual understanding, deep understanding, because the Bible is a miracle book. It's the deepest book ever written, but it can be understood by simple people. I mean, it's just a miracle; you can't understand it any other way. But in I John 1, if we just take these verses at face value.
I John 1:1 - "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes. . ." Now he's talking about Christ. ". . .which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled. . ." These disciples, the last living one of them was John, had handled, they had been in physical proximity to Jesus, the Christ, Thomas was actually able to put his finger into the wound holes of Christ's body, but they handled this individual. ". . . concerning the Word of life -
Verse 2 - "the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us ." This was an eternal life; this was not a life that had previously come into existence out of nothingness. No, this was eternal life manifested in the body on the earth of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Christ is referred to as - that eternal life.
Romans 9:5 Along the same lines. Again, just to put this series of scriptures into context, Jesus said, "My Father is greater than I."
And I asked the question, "Well, what does He mean by that?" One possibility was well He is greater in longevity. Well, He's not greater in longevity because there was never a time when the Father existed and Christ didn't, or the Word didn't. They are co-eternal beings, but in Romans 9:5 we further see this. Now again, I'm breaking into the thought to pick up a point here, a clause.
Romans 9:5 - "Of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God." Now there is another passage where the word - eternal, or in this case, eternally - is used to refer to Christ. If He had come into existence as an act of creation by the Father at some point in past eternity, you would not be able to call Him an eternally blessed God, an eternal life, as we saw in I John 1:2.
Over in the book of Hebrews 7, there is a discussion of Melchizedek, and let's pick that up. The author of Hebrews is talking about this Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:1 - ". . .this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him.
Verse 2 - "to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all," This was an individual that Abraham, the father of the faithful, tithed to. ". . .first being translated 'king of righteousness,' "
Now that would be blasphemy to describe any human being who has sinned, all have sinned, to describe somebody as the king of righteousness would be blasphemy in referring to another human being. And then, "the king of peace." Well, the way of peace they know not.
Verse 3 - "Without father, without mother, without genealogy," And there are wondrously creative attempts in some of the commentaries to explain all that language away as still being able to apply to a human being; some is comical. If you just opened this up and read it, I think common sense would tell you this is not talking about a human being. "Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life." Melchizedek was an incarnation of the Word, and is the one we now know as Jesus Christ, and it says, ". . .He had no beginning of days and will have no end of life" No beginning of days. Again, showing that there was never a time in past eternity when this being did not exist. He is co-eternal with the one we know as the Father.
Well, we could go to other scriptures, but we've got more to cover besides just that one point. But, no, Christ did not mean my Father is greater than I in the sense that He's lived longer than I. In the beginning, from past eternity, the Word was with the Father.
Well, how about in composition. Is there some kind of a difference in the stuff, if we can use that term, of which the Father is made and that of which the Son is made? No. Very easily we could disprove that assertion. Again, back to John 4 in a statement about the nature of God, the Godhead, what does it say?
John 4:24 - "God is Spirit, God is Spirit." Oh, there were attempts in our recent memories to talk about the limitations of spirit. Two spirit beings cannot occupy the same portion of the universe at the same time, which is the sophomoric mistake, even with a lot of letters after your name of applying the laws of physics which apply to matter to something which by definition is not matter, which is spirit. But, you know, we all had to struggle through that, but God is Spirit, so the laws of physics don't apply. God is Spirit, and yes, two spirit beings can both inhabit the entire universe simultaneously, which is to say that they are both spirit and not governed or limited by the laws of matter. ". . .and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." All right, so is the spirit composition, if we can use that phrase, of the Father somehow superior to the spirit composition of the Son? No. Ephesians 4:4. That would mean that there are two spirits. But Ephesians 4:4 says:
Ephesians 4:4 - "There is one body and (there is) one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling." There's one Spirit. Language again is a limiting factor because our minds use language, and our minds are limited, but there are descriptions of the way that God, the Son appears, in His glorified state. He has a face, arm, hand, all right that spirit body consists of spirit essence, but it's the same spirit essence that the Father and His spirit body consists of. And then that same spirit power emanates from Them throughout the entire universe. Again, we're using words, the only thing we have at our disposal; there's parts of this that are bigger than our minds can comprehend, but the clincher on this one is that there is no difference in the composition of the Father and the Son. That's not the sense in which the Father is greater than the Son, as over here again in John 10:30.
You get the sense John was combating a lot of heretical notions about the nature of the Godhead, that's why so many times we turn back to John's writings to get the simple clear statements of truth about the Godhead. "I and my Father are one." Well, is Christ inferior to the Father, or is the Father greater than Christ in purity of character? That's almost even ridiculous to even pose such a question, isn't it? But the Bible even answers it, so it's not that ridiculous a question because the Bible answered it. Is the Father in His righteousness and purity and holiness somehow a notch above the righteousness, purity and holiness of the Son? No. The answer is no. Hebrews 1, here I think we're reading the words of Paul, I guess that debate goes on in some quarters, but anyway, in any event, it's talking of Christ, and it actually answers that question we posed rhetorically. It's talking about the One we know as Jesus, the Christ, we used to know Him as the Word, or He was known as the Word, and in Hebrews 1:3:
Hebrews 1:3 - "Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." Now part of that expression - "the express image of His person. . ." he is talking about an identical replica in character. It's the same character. There is not a level of holiness, purity and righteousness that the Father has that the Son has never been able to attain to. It's the same righteousness, holiness and purity of character.
On this point, I'm going to read you one last passage, and you know where we're going, back to John 14, and just read this and see if you see any room for levels of righteousness, holiness or purity of character, the Father being superior to the Son in that realm. I don't.
John 14:8 - "Philip said to (Him) (Jesus) 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.' "
Jesus kept talking about the Father, the Father, the Father, and Philip finally said, "Well, 'show us the Father.' " What's He like? What's His character like? I don't think he was asking to see with his eyes the glorified spiritual body of the Father. I think he understood that wasn't possible. What's this Father like? What's His character like? His holiness? What did Jesus say?
Verse 9 - "Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father?
Verse 10 - " 'Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?' " The same thoughts, the same purity, the same holiness, the same righteousness, the same mind. "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me (He) does the works."
Well, brethren, we can only conclude I think from this brief tour through some of these scriptures about the nature of the Father, that when Christ said, "My Father is greater than I," we can only conclude that the Father is greater than Christ in authority, in leadership. Within the Godhead, the Father is greater than Christ in authority. The Father is the head of Christ. It really isn't anything more complicated than that. I Corinthians 11:3. Paul said I want you to know something, so let's learn here.
I Corinthians 11:3 - "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ," Now, would we have any problem understanding that Christ is over you or me in authority? I don't think we would have any problem with that. ". . . the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." Christ is God who has a God, and He is under the authority of His Father.
Notice some of Christ's descriptions of His relationship with the Father. We might as well just park over here in the book of John. Start in John 8. John quotes these statements that Christ made about His relationship with His Father far more than the any of the other writers of gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark or Luke.
John 8:42 - "Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.' " So the Father sent Christ. Who is the greater in authority, the one who sends, or the one who is sent? We already read in John 14:10, but let's read it again.
John 14:10 - " ' Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father (is) in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority;" it says in the New King James. Of course that's in italics, but that's the sense in the Greek - I'm not speaking on My own authority; I'm speaking on somebody else's authority who is greater than I. ". . .but the Father who dwells in Me (He) does the works."
Verse 24 - "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine. . ." I teach; I tell you; I proclaim, but they're not My words. The Father. . ."The word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent Me." So Jesus is quite comfortable with the notion, He keeps repeating it over and over again, that He's not coming up with a message that originated in His own mind, but it was a message that originated with the Father who gave Him the Word and sent Him to deliver it. You know that was one of the very jobs of Jesus, who says My Father is greater than I to reveal the Father. Before Jesus came, the Father was not generally known even among those few saints as we use the term, heroes of faith I think that are mentioned in the book of Hebrews 11, who will be in the first resurrection. There is very little indication that there was much of an understanding about the Father, even among the patriarchs and those who will be in the first resurrection who lived in Old Testament times. Jesus said, "I came to reveal the Father."
In fact, let's notice over in Matthew 11, where He says that's one of the reasons that He had to come to the earth as He is working out His part of the plan of developing this family. . .well, members of a family need to know who their Father is, who the head of the family is. Now in Matthew 11:27:
Matthew 11:27 - "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father." Now notice this, the second half of verse 27: "Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and (he) the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." So He came to reveal the Father. Elsewhere it says, "He came to declare the Father. He made it known among His disciples that there was a Father, and His Father was greater than He. Now back to John 17 in the true Lord's prayer, the prayer that Jesus prayed His last night, John 17. He is speaking directly to the Father, and we have this priceless privilege of ease dropping on this prayer of the Son to the Father.
John 17:8 - "For I have given to them the words which You (gave) ( have given) Me. . ." Now again, who is greater in authority, who originates the plan; who originates the words to be taught. . . ". . .and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me."
There's a statement in the book of Mark, we're going to come back to John, but now we want to go to Mark 13, that is a part of this picture that My Father is greater than I, that He sent Me, that My words are not Mine but His; I speak not on My own authority, but His that He gave Me. Mark 13: There are some things that the Father knows, but He has not told the Son.
Mark 13:32 - ". . . Of that day. . ." They wanted to know when's He going to return? ". . . Of that day and hour no one knows, (neither) (not even) the angels in heaven. . ." Okay, that's understandable, ". . .nor the Son, but only the Father." There were some things at least at this point in eternity, now I can't tell you whether right now the Son knows as He is sitting at the right hand of the Father the day and the hour when the Father will send Him back, but I do know at this point when He was fully God and fully man, when He was God in the flesh, when there were things about the plan that He did not know. The one who was greater than He had chosen not to reveal those things even to His son.
Now certainly in the flesh, Jesus made certain statements that it seems like in one sense you could say are limited to the time when He was incarnate, in the flesh, but I think they are also eternal truths as well about the relationship between the Son and the Father. We see that in one place over in John 5:19 -
John 5:19 - "Then Jesus answered and said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
Verse 30 - "I can of Myself (mine ownself) do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." These are two distinct entities, two distinct beings, two distinct centers of consciousness, co-eternal, but one is superior to the other in authority, but the miracle of it is that the one who is inferior in authority does not resent, loves to have it so, is very happy for that to be the situation forever, both directions. You don't see any resentment whatsoever in the mind of Jesus that His Father is greater than He in authority, and He willingly says, "I don't seek my own will. I seek the will of the Father who sent Me."
Now we started by seeing Jesus say, "Believe in Me. I am the way, the truth, the life." But even when it comes to prayer, what did He say that we should do? Luke 11:2 The disciples wanted to know how to pray.
Luke 11:2 - He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father (which art) in heaven. . ." Obviously, that is also in Matthew 6. He said, "Pray to the Father." Now, that's not to say that it would ever be wrong in a prayer to speak directly to Christ. We even have an example in the Book of Acts of where the church did apparently in one prayer pray to Christ, but by far and away, the model that Jesus, Himself, who is "the way, the truth and the life," said is to pray to the Father, to address our prayers to the Father. You don't see any resentment on Jesus' part that prayers are not to be directed to Him. He is a part in those prayers. He intercedes and helps us in our weaknesses we pray, but the prayer, all the glory, He keeps deflecting to the Father. One time they said, "Why, Good Master," and He wouldn't even let them get away with that.
He said, "Why do you call Me good. There's none good but One, that's God," speaking to the Father, referring to the Father. John 16:23. He looked forward to the time after He would die and be resurrected, and He talked to the disciples about that future time when they would have access directly to the throne of grace, John 16:23.
John 16:23 - "In that day you will ask Me nothing." He says your emphasis should not be in praying to Me. Now we have a huge church in which people pray not only just to Jesus, but to the physical mother of Jesus. But if you just read His own words, the one who is "the way, the truth, the life," He says, "In that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you." We come to the Father through Jesus Christ, our Intercessor, our Savior, our High Priest. But we come to the Father in His name.
Quite a lot in the book of John, the epistles of John, about this wonderful relationship between Christ, "the way, the truth, and life," His Father, who is greater than He.
John 16:26 - He finished the thought - "In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you:" He's not emphasizing His intercessory role, even though that's true. He's emphasizing that they have direct access in His name to the Father. They can go directly. You and I can go directly and speak to the Father, for the Father, Himself, loves you because you have loved Me.
Now I want to go back to that passage in Ephesians that we looked at early on and read it with slightly different emphasis. Ephesians 1. We started out looking at the exalted nature of Christ, who is far above all other things, but now let's filter this passage here, Ephesians 1:13, filter it through these other things that we've seen through Christ's own testimony.
Ephesians 1:13 - "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Verse 14 - "(which, I think it should read) (who) is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. . ." We have a little bit of God's Spirit in us developing the mind of God in us until the resurrection to the praise of His glory.
Verse 15 - "Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus. . ." He said, "Yes, believe in Me," but first He said, "You believe in God, believe also in Me. Even there, He said, "You believe in God first." ". . . and your love for all the saints.
Verse 16 - "do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:" Now what was it that Paul was praying for these brethren? Praying. . .
Verse 17 - "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father (the Father) of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." He's praying that the Father would give spiritual understanding, depth of understanding, to the Christians.
Verse 18 - "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Verse 19 - "and what is the exceeding greatness of His power. . ." Whose power? Well the one that took a dead body and resurrected Him and put his resurrected Son in a place high above everything else. That's what the emphasis is, I think, in this statement, in this prayer for understanding of Paul. He's saying I want you to understand and think about the greatness of His power, that's the Father's power. . .
Verse 20 - "which He worked in Christ, when He (the Father) raised (Christ) Him from the dead and seated Him. . ." Did the seating, you see, greater in authority, ". . . at His right hand in the heavenly places
Verse 21 - "far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
Verse 22 - "And He (the Father) put all things under His (Christ's) feet, and gave Him (Christ) to be head over all things to the church." The truly greatest part of this truth, I believe, the greatest part of this truth - that My Father is greater than I - is that in that context one has greater authority than the other, there is perfect love and harmony between them. Christ does not resent that His Father is greater than He is. He loves the Father who is greater than He in authority.
John 14. Just as He was about to finish, in His mind, he was seeing the conversation that He was going to have with his disciples in that room where they had that dinner, that Passover meal, was going to come to an end. Of course He had a couple more chapters of things to say, but He says in John 14:30, He's thinking about, "Well, after this discussion, I won't have a chance to talk with you any more because then I must go face my great trial and I know I'm going to be alone." And even then, they didn't know that. They didn't know they were going to forsake Him, but He did.
John 14:30 - "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world (that is Satan) is coming, and he has nothing in Me." Nothing in common, because he resents the Father, and he resents Christ, but. . .
Verse 31 - "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, so I do." He perfectly obeyed the Father to show the world that He perfectly loves the Father. He didn't obey out of resentment, or He didn't obey out of a begrudging, "Well, you're greater than I am in authority so I have to do it," but He says involved in that act of obedience was the attempt to show how much He loved His Father who is greater than He is.
It is the case truly that the plan of God to create a family that will live for all eternity in love and in righteousness will be headed by the Father of that family. I want to conclude with you today in I Corinthians 15, the resurrection chapter, I Corinthians 15:22.
I Corinthians 15:22 - "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "Believe in Me," He says. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."
Verse 23 - "But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming." The first resurrection.
Verse 24 - "Then comes the end," Well, there's another thousand years after the first resurrection. And then there's a period of judgment of all the unjudged dead, we call it the Great White Throne Judgment period, but then comes the end when He, Christ, ". . . He delivers the kingdom to God, the Father. . ." You just see Him saying, "The plan is finished. The job You've given Me to do, the job You've sent me to do, the job You, who are greater than I, commissioned Me to do, to be instrumental in developing this family, to make them like Me in my acknowledgment that You are greater than I, and in My love for You, and in My obedience to You," and He just has a sense of finality here, as Paul looks down under inspiration. . .
Verse 24 - ". . .comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to (God) the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
Verse 25 - "For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
Verse 26 - "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Verse 27 - For He has put all things under His feet. But when He says 'all things are put under Him,' " That is, when it says the Father put everything under Christ, like we read in Ephesians it should be self-evident, but it's capable, conceivable that people would misunderstand it, so Paul makes it clear it should be evident, and he says, ". . . it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted." God, the Father, put all things under Christ except God, the Father. That's what Paul is saying. God, the Father, put everything under Christ, except Himself.
Verse 28 - "Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be. . ." And this is not a first-time event, but it's the way it's always been. God changes not. Christ, who says, "My Father is greater than I," changes not. Then the Son Himself will also continue to be, I think we should say, ". . . subject to Him who put all things under Him, that" And what's the purpose of the whole thing? "That God," the Father, ". . . may be all in all."