The Son of Man

Daniel 7:13-14: “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”

Apparently this vision was quite surprising to Daniel, but why?  When we read this we know that the “Son of Man” refers to Jesus and the “Ancient of Days” refers to God. Nothing too alarming. Here’s what’s strange about Daniel’s observation – up until this point in the Bible the phrase “Son of Man” always refers to just that – the son of man, a human. Daniel doesn’t know he’s seeing Jesus. He’s one that looks like the son of man, a human, coming in the clouds and receiving a kingdom from God. This was unexpected. From this point forward through the Bible, that phrase, Son of Man, is used as a distinction for Christ. We are all a son of man, but Jesus is the Son of Man.

Like the name Son of God indicates his divinity, Son of Man indicates his humanity. The fact that Jesus is called the Son of Man is not an arbitrary fact. He’s called the Son of God 45 times in the NT, but called the Son of Man 84 times. Why does it matter that Jesus was the Son of Man? What does his humanity mean to the human race? It means everything.

The Divinity of Christ

Understanding the importance of Jesus humanity begins with proving his divinity. Before Jesus became Jesus, Jesus was God.  John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus was God.  He was more than a heavenly creature. He was more than just like God. Philippians 2:6 explains: “…being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” Or like other translations read, Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. His status as God was a matter of fact.

The Humanity of Christ

When Jesus arrives on Earth in the New Testament, something changed.  What was Jesus while he was on the earth? Completely God? Completely Man? Was he both? This has been a point of contention from the very beginning. 1 John 4:3: “…every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” There’s something a little unbelievable about God becoming a man.

Fortunately, the Bible answers the question for us – Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of Man. Jesus was a human being born in the flesh.   God was given a human body built by flesh and blood just like the rest of us. For us, this is old news, but for people hearing the gospel for the first time this was an earth-shaking truth that turned their world upside down. This is a basic piece of the gospel.  God became a man. John1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Paul says the same in 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh…” God, who had for so long reached out to his people from a distance, delivered himself in the form of a man to live and die among men.

Theological Implications

What did Jesus give up just to be human? Everything. He was the perfect sacrifice. Not just because he was morally and lawfully perfect, but because he gave everything to be the savior.

The Perfect Sacrifice

Consider what Jesus sacrificed just to become human – he left heaven, he left his father, and he gave up his divine nature. Jesus sacrificed complete power for this mortal, fragile body. He sacrificed absolute knowledge and all wisdom for the meager mind of a man.  He left all his glory behind and humbled himself as a human. Jesus went from being creator and master of the universe to live like the simple son of a carpenter. And then while he was here, we killed him. The Son of God died as a criminal suspended on a cross among thieves.

We could give the whole universe back to God and it wouldn’t amount to a fraction of what God gave to us.  There is no greater sacrifice than when God gave up his divine nature, lived like man, lived under his own law, and died at the hands of his own people. He was the perfect sacrifice which of makes his the perfect savior.

The Perfect Savior

Jesus lived the complete human experience: 1) he was made like us, 2) he suffered like us, and 3) he was tempted like us. This is the message of Hebrews 2:17-18: Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” 

Hebrews 4:15-16 is even more specific about Jesus experience as a human: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Everything we experience, Jesus experienced. Jesus was in all points tempted as we are. He was prone to pride. He was tempted by material abundance. Because he was a man I believe he was also prone to lust. Jesus had to suppress his sexual desires just like all men are called to do. He knows what it’s like to feel lust beginning to boiling up inside his human body. Most importantly, he knew how to restrain himself, even to the point of death.

There could be no sacrifice more perfect, no savior more sufficient than the Man, our God, Jesus Christ.

 

avatar About Tad
I am a member of the Riverside Road Church of Christ in Ozark, MO, where I share the responsibility of teaching and preaching with several other men. In my secular work, I am a professor at Cox College in Springfield, MO, in the department of radiologic sciences and imaging.

3 thoughts on “The Son of Man”

  1. Tad,

    You make many great points. The one that I specifically think is important is that “He was wholly human.” This is an area where I struggle with whether teaching that he had the full Godly power is simply a mistake or is false. You are correct, he was not omniscient or omnipotent and it is not a matter of opinion. It is fact and to teach differently presents a Savior that was not subject to human weaknesses.

    Our churches need more teaching like this.

  2. Some additional thoughts to consider…

    Besides the fact that he was conceived through the Spirit and was born to a virgin, the early life of Jesus was otherwise normal. He was wholly human. And like any other child Jesus had to learn and grow. Several passages in the Scriptures underline this point. When Jesus was a small boy in Luke 2:40: “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” After Jesus spoke with the teachers in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

    Implications: Jesus was born just like any other child. He was not omniscient. He was not omnipotent. I suspect he didn’t even know he was the son of God for some time in boyhood. Jesus’ mind had to mature just like the mind of any child.

    I believe at least in his early life Jesus had to study the Scriptures to know the Scriptures. Of course, much of this changed when he was baptized and received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), but until that point he was just like any other human. We’re even told that Jesus had to learn obedience – Hebrews 5:8: “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” It’s not as though Jesus was ever disobedient, but he was subjected to the complete human experience.

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