In John 14:28, why does Jesus say the disciples would rejoice if they loved him?

Joh 14:28 You have heard me tell you, 'I am going away, but I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.

What is the link between God's superiority over Jesus and their happiness?

What is the link between their loving Jesus and Jesus going to the Father "who is greater than all" (John 10:29)?


3 Answers 3


Why does Jesus say they would rejoice if the disciples had loved him?

Paul explains this like this:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12 NASB)

And we should consider the symbolization this is referring to:

  • That Jesus is God's words
  • That God's words died
  • That God's words rose from the dead
  • That God's words return to God to remain with God
  • That God's words now dwell alive in a "more perfect tabernacle"
  • A Tabernacle "not of this creation"
  • That this series of events gives "Eternal Redemption"
  • With a promise that God will speak again - the return of Jesus
  • "Eternal Redemption" gives reason for rejoicing ^^,

What is the link between God's superiority over Jesus and their happiness?

Jesus explains this like this:

I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me. (John 7:29 NASB)

In symbolization this shows how God has authority over his words. The words did dwell with God and God sent his words out. Man kind who was made in God's image also has authority over the words that we say. Therefore in similarity of the authority man has over his words, God also has over his words.

To realize the happiness Jesus explains this like this:

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (John 15:11 NASB)

And Jesus plainly tells us where he will dwell:

... and My words abide in you ... (John 15:7b NASB)

And Paul helps water the realization:

to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6 NASB)

David helps the realization:

I said, “You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High." (Psalm 82:6 NASB)

That what we say are now the words of God if the words of God abide in you:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. (Matthew 21:21 NASB)

And Jesus gives extra testimony to this:

for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:12 NASB)

And again over here:

For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:20 NASB)

But what does this have to do with joy?

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 NASB)

And again:

In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 NASB)

For its what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean, and God does all things, the blessings and the curses, and the good and the evil. For he loves the words of man and is the servant of all to be the greatest, that if we should ask we will receive he comes dressed to serve that he should receive all the glory and this is what brings him joy.

For he Loves to turn into what we enjoy that we may praise him. It is what we are made for and the meaning to our lives. And since he turns into what we say, then we should only say good things and be the good trees.

What is the link between their loving Jesus and Jesus going to the Father "who is greater than all" (John 10:29 NASB)?

We must understand that the point of creation was to give glory to God. During the times of Noah, God was sad that he made man, and the reason for this was that every thought of the heart of man was continually on what was wrong with the world. See what a man says reveals whats in the heart. All those that thought of the error spoke of the error and produced bad fruit, therefore God cut them down and drowned them in a flood saving only those with Noah.

And Jesus does point out the condemnation:

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19 NASB)

That we should change our focus from the bad to the good overcoming the knowledge of both bad and good.

  • Those that Love Jesus will make this change within.
  • This change in focus changes ones spirit to that of Jesus.
  • The optimistic spirit gives thanks to God.
  • Giving thanks to God glorifies God fulfilling the purpose of creation.

Well that explains loving Jesus, but what about him going to the Father?
The power of God works through Jesus, and to change our focus, Jesus delivered that power to man. That through his silence we may speak the power. That through his power the all powerful "who is greater than all" shall receive glory fulfilling the purpose of creation.

And we also shall learn of this power when we are born into the silence as he first went into silence, and listen to the water of the words of man, and see with our eyes what happens from those words, then turn from pessimism to optimism to receive the forgiveness.

  • 1
    (+1) and accepted as an answer. I think the answer would be better without the idea of God's word dying, etc. as it seems to mix metaphors.
    – user10231
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 11:58

It appears you have three distinct but related questions, which I will briefly address in order:

1) Why does Jesus say they would rejoice if the disciples had loved him?

We should consider what it means to 'love' Jesus.

The verbs ἠγαπᾶτέ and ἐχάρητε (Joh 14:28 BGT) are given in the aorist, which could be used to indicate a future event. Similar to how in English we may use the subjunctive to indicate a future hypothetical.

In the given verse, Jesus is nearing the end of what is widely referred to as a Farewell Address, and he is giving information to his disciples about future events that have not yet occurred. "Jesus has told the disciples what will happen before it occurs, before they can know and, in the full sense, believe" (Moody Smith, 278). In other words, because the disciples cannot yet fully comprehend the meaning of Jesus' actions and words they cannot fully believe or in a sense fully love him in the way that is required by faith. In this chapter Love is defined as "keeping my commandments" (Jn 14:15, 21). Only later, when the Jesus has departed, died, and returned to the Father, will the disciples fully be able to comprehend and then believe (v 29). In addition, Jesus asks the Father to send another Advocate on his behalf to remind and further teach the disciples what it means to keep his commands, thereby completing their ability to love Jesus.

In sum then, we might understand that the disciples will not rejoice until the fulfillment of Jesus' return to the Father because at this point in the narrative they have not fully come to love - or follow Jesus' commandments - due to their incomplete understanding.

Stated another way, we could read it as though Jesus is saying "if only you knew the extent of what I am doing for you, you would be rejoicing, but since you do not yet fully understand you do not."

2) What is the link between God's superiority over Jesus and their happiness?

Jerome Neyrey makes the case that, throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus acts as the 'broker' for God the Father. He is in a sense the "go-between" for establishing the relationship between humanity and the divine being, presenting himself as the 'Way' to the Father (Neyrey, 244). God is the source of peace Εἰρήνην (Joh 14:27 BGT), which Neyrey and D. Moody Smith point out is the Greek rendering of shalom - more widely referring to a "plenitude of blessings" (Neyrey, 244). Jesus, being God's broker, is given authority over the distribution of God's peace and blessings. This is in a sense the primacy of God that you were asking about. God is the source of blessings, but only accessible through the brokerage of Jesus (Jn 14:14, et. al).

3) What is the link between their loving Jesus and Jesus going to the Father "who is greater than all" (John 10:29)?

This question is closely related to the prior. Again, Neyrey cites Tricia Brown saying that, while Jesus acts as broker between God the Father and humanity, the Advocate/Paraclete acts as sub-broker on behalf of Jesus (Neyrey, 252). Jesus prays to the Father asking that the Advocate is sent (Jn 14:16, 26) and that the Advocate will be with the disciples forever in Jesus' absence. This Advocate then "will teach [them] everything and remind [them] of all that [Jesus] told [them]" (Joh 14:26 NAB). This will reinforce the commandments that are required by Jesus to fulfill the brokerage of the blessings from the Father.

Moody Smith makes the claim that the "the if-clause of verse 28b is actually a contrary-to-fact condition, which does not imply that the disciples will not love Jesus, but rather that they cannot love him fully or properly until his departure, his death, and glorification" (Moody Smith, 278). Upon the completion of Jesus' glorification in the Father, the disciples then have direct access to the Father, who is indeed greater than all, through the brokerage of Jesus and the Advocate.

In the context of John 10:29 Jesus talks about the gifts of eternal life that he bestows upon his 'sheep' (v 27) and the surety that he maintains over their safety - "no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (v 29). These are the promises that Jesus grants from the Father to those who keep his commands.

The importance of "the Father who is greater than all" should be clear at this point. The Father is the source of all blessings and happiness, and only through access granted by God's agent on earth can one hope to gain access to Him who has given all authority over to Jesus (Jn 5:22; 17:2).

I attempt to address the text from a narrative critical perspective, not trying to bring in dogmatic frameworks that might influence exegesis. Historical criticism might also be useful, but I came across nothing of note in my brief exploration of the topic.


Moody Smith, D. John. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999.

Neyrey, Jerome H. S.J. The Gospel of John. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

  • (+1) and accepted as an answer.
    – user10231
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 11:53

This quote is taken from what is called the Farewell Discourse. The disciples had been with Jesus 3+ years and had heard Him give many teachings. A key message was on the importance of humility.

While the Farewell Discourse follows a common literary form of that time, [Farewell Discourse] Jesus started His message in a very unusual manner: He washed the feet of the disciples. He opened His final teaching by giving them an object lesson on the importance of humility.

At the time Jesus is giving His final message, the disciples do not fully comprehend what is about to happen. Eventually they will.

Later they will recall not only the foot washing but all of what Jesus said:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26 ESV)

They will remember what He taught them about the consequences of a life of humility:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4 ESV)

They will understand that since Jesus did humble Himself as no other person ever did, even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8) that God has recognized His act of humility by making Him greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven:

Then God gave Christ the highest place... (Philippians 2:9 CEV)

Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) including all judgment (John 5:22) and the authority to give eternal life (John 17:2).

Had the disciples understood the change that would happen when Jesus returned to the Father to become the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, they would be rejoicing.

  • (+1) and accepted as an answer.
    – user10231
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 11:55

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