"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. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe." (John 14:28-29)

This is a clear statement by Jesus but it has been somewhat mistranslated. Jesus is discussing his relationship with the Supreme Being along with his relationship with his closest disciples.

This is a personal statement by Jesus - describing a level of intimacy and devotion many do not see.

While the phrase "going away" is consistent with the Greek word ὑπάγω (hypagō) - the second use of the word "going" is not appropriate. This second "going" is being translated from the Greek word πορεύω (poreuō). This can mean, according to the lexicon,  "to continue on one's journey," but also "to follow one, that is: become his adherent."

In the context of this statement, it would be unreasonable to translate the word πορεύω (poreuō) to "going" because "going" doesn't relate to God being greater than Jesus. Rather, the definition "to follow one, that is: become his adherent" would be appropriate, because indeed someone will follow and become the adherent of someone who is greater than themselves.

And this is precisely what Jesus is saying. Jesus is speaking of his dedication to the Supreme Being. This is related to why Jesus is "going away." It is also related to the fact that Jesus loves the Supreme Being - being His "adherent."

Nonetheless, it is difficult to find an English word or expression that communicates the devotional motive behind his leaving them to be with the Supreme Being. So we'll just have to stick with the second "going" but understand that the purpose and motive is based upon love and dedication.

The word "glad" is also used, describing how Jesus thinks those who love him will feel as they understand that Jesus is returning to be with the Supreme Being. This word "glad" is derived from the Greek word, χαίρω (chairō). While "glad" is not necessarily wrong, it does not portray the intensity of the feeling Jesus is speaking of.

The word χαίρω (chairō) means not only "glad" according to the lexicon, but it means "to rejoice exceedingly" and "in salutations, hail" as well. In other words, it is a word communicating a more extreme happiness than the word "glad" portrays.

Indeed, Jesus precedes this with the notion of love. "If you loved me" communicates two issues: "If" taken from the Greek word εἰ (ei) and "you loved," taken from ἀγαπάω (agapaō). The lexicon describes this word to mean "to love dearly."

So Jesus is not assuming his disciples love him dearly, he is saying "if" they loved him dearly.

Let's think about this. If a person loves another dearly, what does this mean? It means that they care about the person's welfare. They are happy when that person is happy. They want the person to be happy.

Jesus is saying that if his disciples were wanting Jesus to be happy they would rejoice in the fact that Jesus is returning to be with God. Why?

First, because Jesus was recognizing that his disciples' were concerned about losing him. Peter had said "Lord, where are you going?" and "Lord, why can't I follow you now?" after Jesus told them he was leaving them and returning to God in the spiritual realm soon. They were more concerned about Jesus' leaving them than Jesus' own happiness.

And secondly, because Jesus loves God. This is the missing element that gets lost in translation here. Jesus is speaking of his loving relationship with the Supreme Being and the fact that he wants to return to be with God.

This may seem odd for many who perceive God to be a vague force or even Jesus himself as many ecclesiastical sectarian teachers teach. Or, as portrayed among the mistranslations and misinterpretations of the Old Testament, as some kind of angry God whose biggest concern is whether we are following the rules - an enforcer who is out to punish us if we do anything wrong. Is this the God Jesus loves?

Jesus does not see God in this way because this is not God's true nature. The Supreme Being is loving, caring, compassionate and protective. Jesus wants to be with Him. He loves the Supreme Being. And his teachings have asked us that we also love and serve the Supreme Being with all our hearts.

According to this translation, Jesus says, "for the Father is greater than I." Is this a correct translation? Is Jesus really comparing himself to God and clarifying that God is greater than he is?

Not exactly. The Greek phrase is: ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ μείζων μού ἐστιν. "Greater" is being derived from the root word μέγας (megas), which can mean "greater" in the sense of being larger in "mass and weight" or "compass and extent" or "measure and height" according to the lexicon. But these mechanical elements do not cover the full breadth of the word.

According to the lexicon, μέγας (megas) also refers to being "great," "spacious," "mighty" "strong" and "abundant," as well as "eminent for ability, virtue, authority, power;" "esteemed highly for their importance: of great moment, of great weight, importance;" " highly esteemed for its excellence: excellent;" and "splendid, prepared on a grand scale, stately" among others. This is quite clearly an expression of praise. It is a statement of loving praise by someone who holds another with fondness.

Now is Jesus really comparing his own greatness with God's greatness here? In fact, there is no indication that he is making a comparison between himself and the Supreme Being. Jesus does indicate himself here, but to understand this use, we have to clearly understand μέγας (megas) within the context of his personal relationship with God.

Let's use an example. Let's say that we really loved and cared for a friend, and we were speaking of that friend fondly to others. Would we compare ourselves with that friend as we praised them? Would we say, "my friend is greater than I am" ?

This of course would be rude, because while we are supposedly praising our friend, we are actually saying that we are great. Is this what Jesus is saying here? That 'I am great but God is greater'?

No. Jesus is simply saying that he is praising God because God is so great. The involvement of "I" in the statement does not mean he is comparing himself. The "I" simply indicates that Jesus is emphatic about his praise of God.

Understanding this, let's clarify this part of Jesus' statement:
"If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going [in a devotional manner] to the Father, for God is great and I praise Him."
This could also be phrased as:
"If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, for I praise God 's greatness."
We have to understand Jesus' statements in the context of how he felt about the Supreme Being. He humbly loved God and wanted to be with Him. Praising God was an important part of Jesus' spiritual practices and teachings, and this has been hidden from view by ecclesiastical (professional) translators who did not understand Jesus' teachings and personal loving relationship with God.

This is also the hidden meaning of "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (John 12:13 and elsewhere). This misinterpreted and mistranslated phrase indicates a person who is representing God and whose teachings are praising God and His Holy Names.

Jesus also says, "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.'" What is Jesus referring to here and what does this mean?

Here Jesus is referring to a statement made earlier in this intimate discussion with his close disciples:
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:2-3)
As discussed with these verses, Jesus is speaking of returning to the spiritual realm after the death of his physical body. Here he will "prepare a place" for his disciples - meaning he will create the opportunity for them to return when they leave their physical bodies. Then he will "come back and take" his disciples "to be with me that you also may be where I am."

This is not the same scenario that ecclesiastical sectarian teachers have taught over the centuries concerning this discussion. They take Jesus' statements here out of context. Jesus is having an intimate discussion with those disciples who have committed their lives to Jesus and have given up their families, jobs and standing in the community to follow his teachings - and then pass those teachings on after Jesus leaves his body. Jesus is not speaking with the whole world as interpreted by many ecclesiastical sectarian institutions. He is not talking about some coming "end of the world" scenario where he will come galloping through the sky to pick up his followers while chopping the heads off others with his sword.

This is in fact how many have portrayed this supposed event. With Jesus galloping through the world over the clouds, maiming everyone but his followers. This commentary describes more about this erroneous teaching.

Rather, Jesus is talking about escorting his dedicated disciples back to the spiritual realm after their bodies die. The word "come" used in "come back" is derived from the Greek word, ἔρχομαι (erchomai), which means "to appear, make one's appearance" according to the lexicon.

And the word "take" in "take you" is derived from the Greek word, παραλαμβάνω (paralambanō), which means not just "take" but also to "receive" one. This is the element of escort. It is not as if Jesus will be kidnapping them when they die. He will be receiving them and escorting them back to the spiritual realm.

This notion of expanding this statement to cover some "end of the world" scenario is an irresponsible attempt by ecclesiastical sectarian institutions and their teachers to threaten people about some big day of reckoning to scare them into becoming followers.

Rather, Jesus was speaking of the real day of reckoning: The time of death. Each of us will face "judgement day" at the time of death. When we die the summation of our lives - our deeds, desires and consciousness - are brought to bear, and this will determine where we go next.

Jesus is clarifying that if his followers are focused upon following his instructions, then he will appear before them - in other words, be with them - at the time of death of the physical body to escort them back to the spiritual realm to be with the Supreme Being.

And while this discussion is pointedly being made to his disciples, anyone who commits their life to following Jesus' instructions also has the same opportunity.

And what are those instructions? Jesus makes them clear with two statements:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
and
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)


(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian institutional influence, see the Devotional Translation  - translated from the original Greek texts.)