Continued from Part 14
Subordination and subjection
Wherever the relationship of Jesus to God is treated in the New Testament, Jesus is always represented in a subordinate position. This subordinate role can be seen in the fact that Jesus views himself as a messenger: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40; see also John 5:36). Jesus acknowledges his subordination and subjection to God when he declares that God is greater than he is (John 14:28), that he does nothing on his own initiative, speaking and doing only what God has taught him (John 8:28-29), and seeking not his own will, but the will of the God who sent him (John 5:30, 6:38).
Obviously, John’s Jesus is not God, whose will is to be done, but is lower than God, doing God’s will in accordance with Philo’s conception of the Logos as a heavenly being distinct from God. In accordance with Philo’s concept of the Logos as the mediator between God and mankind, John’s Jesus said: “You are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God” (John 8:40). To the apostles he reveals the source of his alleged knowledge: “I have called you friends, because all the things which I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). John’s Jesus repeatedly speaks of himself as being sent by God and being taught by God.
But Jesus cried out and said: “He who believes in me does not believe in me, but in Him who sent me. And he who beholds me beholds the One who sent me. . . . For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me commandment as to what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting. Therefore the things I speak are just as the Father has spoken to me, thus I speak.” (John 12:44-50)
John’s Jesus acknowledges that “A slave is not greater than his master, neither one who is sent greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16). As God is greater than Jesus in sending him, so Jesus is greater than his disciples in sending them. Jesus tells them: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). The one who has greater authority sends the one who has less authority. John’s Jesus himself disavows any triune coequality with God. He says: “This is everlasting life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus [the] Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The true God is superior to, separate, and distinct from Jesus. That is why Paul writes: “there is but one God, the Father . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:6).
John’s Jesus commands his followers to do “greater works” than his own. He declares, “He who believes in me [Jesus], the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). This statement is absurd if he were God, because then he would be instructing his followers to do greater works than God does.