There are over 200 titles, names and metaphors in the Bible that identify Jesus. Christ. Lord. King. Priest. Immanuel. And Son of God.
However, Jesus most often referred to himself as the Son of Man. Why? What does it mean? How did it originate? And how it is relevant today?
What is the Origin and What Does it Mean?
It is used in the Old Testament to speak of humanity and the weakness of the flesh. Job says the son of man is a worm (25:6). The Psalmist penned that the son of man was created a little lower than the angels. (Ps 8:4-5).
God repeatedly called Ezekiel “son of man” to emphasize the prophet’s fleshly nature. His weakness. And his need for God. It demonstrated the distance between man and God. And reminded him that the power of his work was not in himself, but God.
Son of Man is a Declaration of Jesus’ Humanity
Over 80 times Jesus called himself “the son of Man. He said the man of man came to serve. To suffer. And to be sacrificed. (Mk. 10:35; Matt. 17:12)
The expression “Son of Man” speaks to His human nature. Jesus was tired. Hungry. Thirsty. He suffered pain. Agony. And hurt. These are characteristics of the flesh. Traits of humanity.
Jesus voluntarily came to earth to feel what we feel. To identify with our problems. Challenges. And temptations. He possesed a human mind. Human emotions Human feelings. His genealogy was filled with regular folks. Good and bad. Rich and poor. Famous and obscure.
Why was this necessary? The Hebrew writer explained it. “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:17)
Son of Man is a Declaration of His Deity.
The Messianic Prophecy said Christ would be born from the “Seed of a woman.” (Gen. 3:15) Born of a virgin. (Isa. 7:14) From the lineage of King David. ( Ps 132:11-12) Daniel used the title “Son of God to prophetically refer to the Messiah.
So, when Jesus asked the question in Matt 16:13 “Who do men say that I the Son of Man am?” It meant something. It was a question of importance. Significance. Seriousness.
The apostles said some thought he was John the Baptist. Elijah. Or one of the prophets. Then Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter responded “You are the Christ! The Son of the living God!” And Jesus affirmed it is was so. The son of man was the Son of God!
What Does that Mean to us Today?
The son Man came to save lost. To forgive sins. To give his life as a ransom for our sins. Jesus told his disciples, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”
When the High Priests Caiphas asked, “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus said, “I Am.” Then added. “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
That was enough for Caiphas. He cried, “Blasphemy!” So, on that Friday Jesus, the Son of Man was sentenced to die. But on Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead and was declared to be the Son of God!
When we come on Sunday to commerate His life, death and resurrection, we remember Jesus was both God and man. We commune with One who understands. With one who chose the frailty of flesh. With one who possessed both Godhood and manhood
And we honor Him who rules and reigns today from His heavenly Throne. Son of God. Son of Man.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman