The Lord’s Prayer Shows God the Father Is Greater than Jesus

The Lord’s Prayer Shows God the Father Is Greater than Jesus April 6, 2024

Some Christians have been confused about how to address their prayers. Should we pray to God the Father or to Jesus? Sometimes, Christians pray to God and call him Jesus, which, of course, is not biblical. God and Jesus are two different persons.

Luke tells us that Jesus “was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,” etc. (Luke 11.1-2 NRSV). Matthew provides a similar account, with Jesus saying, “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,” etc. (Matt. 6.9-10). Christians call this model “the Lord’s Prayer.”

So, Jesus directed his disciples to address their prayers to God, whom Jesus regularly called “my/theFather.” This is strong evidence of a very important principle in the New Testament: God the Father is essentially superior to Jesus. That is why the Johannine Jesus once said of God, “The Father is greater than I” (John 14.28).

Even though the Johannine Jesus had said earlier, “I and the Father are one” (John 10.30), Jesus never claims in the Gospel of John to be God or equal with God even though that is what so many Christians believe, as I once did for 22 years. (For more information on this, on this Kermit Zarley Blog click on “Christology” in the menu.)

When the interlocutors of the Johannine Jesus accused him of “making himself equal to God” (John 5.18), that was not the author’s viewpoint, as Trinitarians often claim, but the viewpoint of Jesus’ opponents. Evidence of this is that Jesus then gave a considerable refutation, in vv. 19-47, to this false charge of him claiming to be equal to God. In this refutation, Jesus repeatedly says he derives certain powers–e.g., the right to judge and forgive on judgment day, the authority to raise the dead on resurrection day–from the Father. Why? He says it is “because he is the Son of Man” (Jn 5.27).

That is the same thing Jesus said when he healed and forgave the paralytic (Mk 2.1-11).. His opponents then questioned, “It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v. 7). They wrongly thought that the prerogative to forgive sin belongs only to God. Well, yes; but since it is his prerogative, he can choose to share it with another, which he has done with Jesus. Why? Jesus said he “has authority on earth to forgive sins” because he is “the Son of Man” (v. 10). Knowledge about “the Son of Man” begins in Daniel 7.13-14.

Now, Jesus also taught his disciples during the Last Supper that they ought to make their petitionary prayers in his name. He said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name” (John 14.13). He explained, “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it” (vv. 14-15). So, my habit in life has been to address my prayers to God the Father and make requests “in Jesus’ name.” I think that has been pretty standard practice among Christians. And, again, I think it is further evidence that God our Father is supreme over all, including over our Lord Jesus Christ.

[For a similar post, see “What Does It Mean to ‘Believe in the Name of Jesus’?“]


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