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Firm Foundation: Part 11

Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully human. As the Son of God and the Son of Man, Jesus, our Lord and our King, is deserving of both titles.
Firm Foundation: Part 11
Photo by James Kovin / Unsplash

Jesus Christ, Son of Man

As noted in Part 10, the Bible speaks of Jesus as “Son” in two primary ways: Son of God and Son of Man. Both are important titles that are alike in some ways but also unique. We covered Jesus as monogenes, God’s only begotten Son, so now let's focus on Jesus as “Son of Man”.

The title “Son of Man” is a messianic title, and it typically conveys a sense of divine royalty and messianic fulfillment. When the Bible prophesies about the coming Son of Man, foretelling the arrival of Christ, it refers to the climactic appearing of the divine king ordained by God to set his people free. “Son of Man” does not necessarily mean that the bearer of the title is God. But the other main way the Bible speaks of Jesus’ sonship in fact does.

In one sense, of course, all believers are sons and daughters of God. But not in the same essential sense that Jesus is God’s Son. In fact, John 1:12 tells us that it is only through Jesus’ Sonship (which John 1 and other texts teach us is eternal) that we receive the right to become sons and daughters of God ourselves.

Jesus is referred to as the “Son of Man” 82 times in the New Testament (NIV and ESV). In fact, Son of Man is the primary title Jesus used when referring to Himself (e.g., Matthew 12:32; 13:37; Luke 12:8; John 1:51). The only use of Son of Man in a clear reference to Jesus, spoken by someone other than Jesus, came from the lips of Stephen as he was being martyred.

“And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:56)

Son of Man is a title of humanity. Other titles for Christ, such as Son of God, are overt in their focus on His deity. Son of Man, in contrast, focuses on Jesus’ humanity. God called the prophet Ezekiel “son of man” 93 times. In this way, God was simply calling Ezekiel a human being. Son of man is simply a term for “human.” Jesus Christ was truly a human being. He came “in the flesh”.

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” (1 John 4:2)

Son of Man is a title of humility. The uniqueness of Jesus as Son of Man and Son of God adds a new dimension to the Second Person of the Trinity. He is eternal in nature. He left heaven’s glory and took on human flesh, becoming the Son of Man. He was physically born as a baby, grew as a young man, experienced every aspect of life known to humankind.

He was “despised and rejected by mankind” (Isaiah 53:3). The Son of Man had “no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). The Son of Man ate and drank with sinners (Matthew 11:19). The Son of Man suffered at the hands of men (Matthew 17:12). This intentional lowering of His status from King of Heaven to Son of Man is the ultimate example of humility.

“…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Son of Man is a title of deity. The Bible refers to Ezekiel as a son of man, but Jesus is THE Son of Man. As such, Jesus is the supreme example of all that God intended mankind to be, the embodiment of truth and grace.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

In Him “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). For this reason, the Son of Man was able to forgive sins.

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:6)

Take a moment to learn more about the Son of Man. The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). The Son of Man came to save lives (Luke 9:56; 19:10), rise from the dead (Mark 9:9), and execute judgment (John 5:27). At His trial before the high priest, Jesus said,

“I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64-66).

This statement immediately ended the trial, as the court accused the Lord of blasphemy and condemned Him to death. Obviously, the title Son of Man was more was one reserved for the coming Messiah, not the Son of Man standing before the high priest.

Son of Man is a fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus’ claim before the high priest to be the Son of Man was a reference to the prophecy of 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. 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” (NKJV).

Daniel saw glory, worship, and an everlasting kingdom given to the Messiah—here called the “Son of Man”—and Jesus applied this prophecy to Himself.

Jesus also spoke of His coming kingdom on other occasions (Matthew 13:41; 16:28). The author of Hebrews used a reference to the “son of man” in the Psalms to teach that Jesus, the true Son of Man, will be the ruler of all things (Hebrews 2:5–9; cf. Psalm 8:4–6).“

The Son of Man, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, will be the King.

Jesus was fully God (John 1:1), but He was also fully human (John 1:14). As the Son of God and the Son of Man, He is deserving of both titles.