This week’s blog will deal with the name Jesus calls Himself, “Son of Man.” The employment of the expression in the Gospels is very remarkable. It is used to desiginate Jesus Christ no fewer than eighty-one times — thirty times in St. Matthew, fourteen times in St. Mark, , twenty-five times in St. Luke, and twelve times in St. John.
As we approach the end of Lent and Holy Week in a few weeks, I thought I would give my readers some background on title, Son of Man that may lessen any doubts in the divinity of Jesus. Jesus is the Word Incarnate, the Son of God and the Son of Mary which is why He and He alone could atone for the sins of “Man.”
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The Son is Lifted Up (John 12:23, 34). Now the “hour” has arrived. It is the moment when the Son of Man is to be lifted up—and this involves both glorification (John 12:23) and death (John 12:32-34). When the Son of Man is lifted up, the name of the Father is glorified (John 12:28).
The Son of Man is the Lamb of God who goes to the slaughter (cf. Isaiah 53:1 quoted in John 12:38) and is lifted up for the sake of the world in obedience to the Father. Disciples who serve Jesus must also “follow” him in honoring the Father who will in return honor the one who serves Jesus (John 12:26).
The glory of the Son of Man is to glorify the Father through his death, and in response God will glorify the Son. This is the intimacy of their relationship. The Son of Man obeys the Father and the Father loves the Son, and they share the glory of redemption by inviting humanity into their own communion. The glory of the Son and Father is the inclusion of broken humanity in the Triune fellowship of the Father, Son and Spirit.
But the most remarkable thing connected with “the Son of Man” is that it is found only in the mouth of Christ. It is never employed by the disciples, or Evangelist, nor by the Early Christian writers. The early Fathers were of the opinion that the expression was used out of humility and to show Christ’s human nature,
“Son of Man” is a reference to Jesus’ humanity it is not a denial of His deity. By becoming a man, Jesus did not cease being God. The incarnation of Christ did not involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity. “Son of Man” reference makes clear that Jesus in one of us and therefore able to be our Redeemer.
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Jesus clearly claimed to be God on many occasions (Matthew 16:16,17) “But who do you say I am. Simon Peter said in reply,“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”John 8:5
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” (John 10:30) “The Father and I are one.”
But in addition to being divine, He was also human (see Philippians 2:6-8). “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself,taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Jesus has two natures (divine and human) conjoined in one person.
Jesus was not denying His deity by referring to Himself as the Son of Man. In fact, it is highly revealing that the term “Son of Man” is used in Scripture in contexts of Christ’s deity.
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For example, the Bible says that only God can forgive sins (Isaiah 23:45); “It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more.” In Mark 2:7, Jesus is criticisized by religious leaders,“Why does this man speak that way?* He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
But as the “Son of Man,” Jesus had the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
Likewise, Christ will return to Earth as the “Son of Man” in clouds of glory to reign on Earth.
(Matthew 26:63-64). “But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
In this passage, Jesus is citing Daniel 7:13-14 where the Messiah in end times is described as one like the Son of Man coming on a cloud to be welcomed at the right hand of the Father, the “Ancient of days”….His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed.”
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