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Why Is Jesus Called “Son of Man”?

Discover the profound meaning behind why Jesus is called the Son of Man. Unveil the mystery and deepen your understanding of His divine identity.

Last Updated:
December 25, 2023
August 2, 2023
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What Does the Bible’s Term ‘Son of Man’ Mean?

When we delve into the Bible, it becomes clear that the term 'Son of Man' is frequently used. One might wonder, "What does the Son of Man mean in the Bible?" It's a title used almost 200 times in the Old Testament, primarily in the Book of Daniel, which refers to a heavenly figure who God gives authority and dominion. In the New Testament, it's a title that Jesus often uses to refer to himself. Therefore, the term 'Son of Man' has significant implications for understanding the identity of Jesus in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, the term 'Son of Man' is often used as a poetic synonym for 'human.' It's used to emphasize the humanity and mortality of the person referred to. In the Book of Daniel, however, ‘The Son of Man' takes on a more significant role. It refers to a figure who God will give authority, glory, and sovereign power. This figure is seen coming with the clouds of heaven, and his dominion is everlasting.

In the New Testament, Jesus uses the term 'Son of Man' to echo the usage in Daniel. He often uses it to refer to his future suffering, death, and resurrection. He also uses it to refer to his return at the end of the age. In this way, the term 'Son of Man' encapsulates the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.

Why Did Jesus Call Himself the 'Son of Man'?

The question "Why did Jesus call himself the Son of Man?" is complex. The title 'Son of Man' emphasizes the humanity of Jesus and his divinity. By using this title, Jesus is identifying himself with humanity and hinting at his divine role as the one who God will give authority and dominion.

Jesus' use of the term 'Son of Man' also fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. In Daniel 7:13-14, Daniel sees a vision of "one like a son of man" given authority, glory, and sovereign power by God. By using this title, Jesus identifies himself as fulfilling this prophecy. He is the one who has been given authority by God and who will establish a kingdom that will never end.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14)

Moreover, by calling himself the 'Son of Man,' Jesus made a radical claim about his identity. He wasn't merely claiming to be a prophet or a wise teacher. He claimed to be the one God would give authority and dominion. He was claiming to be the one who would suffer, die, and rise again. He was claiming to be the one who would return at the end of the age to judge the living and the dead.

What Did Jesus Mean When He Called Himself the Son of Man?

When Jesus called himself the Son of Man, he made a profound statement about his identity. He claimed to be the heavenly figure prophesied in the Book of Daniel. He claimed to be the one God would give authority and dominion. He was claiming to be the one who would suffer, die, and rise again. And he claimed to be the one who would return at the end of the age to judge the living and the dead.

These claims have deep theological implications. They suggest that Jesus saw himself as a human being but as the divine Son of God. They suggest that Jesus saw his mission not just as a teacher or a prophet but as the world’s Savior. And they suggest that Jesus saw his death not just as a tragic end but as a necessary sacrifice for the sins of humanity.

Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64)

Understanding Jesus as the Son of Man also sheds light on his teachings. When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, he spoke about a reality he would bring about through his death and resurrection. When he spoke about the need for repentance and faith, he spoke about the response people should have to his mission and identity.

What Did Being the Son of Man Imply About Jesus?

Being the Son of Man implied several important things about Jesus. Firstly, it emphasized his humanity. Jesus was fully human. He experienced hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain. He shared in the joys and sorrows of human life.

Secondly, being the Son of Man emphasized Jesus' divine authority. As the Son of Man, God gave Jesus authority and dominion. He had the authority to forgive sins, heal the sick, and even raise the dead.

Thirdly, being the Son of Man emphasized Jesus' role as the Suffering Servant. Jesus would suffer and die for the sins of humanity. But his death would not be the end. He would rise again, overcoming death and opening the way to eternal life for all who believe in him.

Interpretations of 'Son of Man' by Biblical Scholars

Biblical scholars have long grappled with the meaning of the term 'Son of Man.' Some see it as a title that primarily emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Others see it as a title that primarily emphasizes his divinity. Still, others see it as a title that encompasses both.

Many scholars agree that the term 'Son of Man' has its roots in the Old Testament, particularly in the Book of Daniel. Here, the 'Son of Man' is a heavenly figure given authority and dominion by God. This figure is seen coming with the clouds of heaven, and his dominion is everlasting.

When Jesus uses the term 'Son of Man' in the New Testament, he is likely drawing on this Old Testament imagery. He is identifying himself as this heavenly figure who God has given authority. He also identifies himself as the one who will suffer, die, and rise again.

Where in the Bible Did Jesus Call Himself the Son of Man?

In the New Testament, Jesus frequently referred to himself as the Son of Man. For instance, in Matthew 8:20, Jesus says, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Here, Jesus emphasizes his humanity and identification with the poor and marginalized.

Mark 2:10 (ESV) records Jesus's words to the paralytic: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

In Matthew 17:22-23, Jesus says, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill and raise him to life on the third day.” Here, he is predicting his suffering, death, and resurrection.

And in Matthew 24:30, Jesus says, "Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." Here, he is predicting his return at the end of the age.

'Son of Man' vs. 'Son of God': What's the Difference?

'Son of Man' and 'Son of God' are two titles that Jesus often uses to refer to himself in the New Testament. While they may seem similar, they have different connotations and emphasize different aspects of Jesus' identity.

'Son of Man' emphasizes Jesus' human nature. The title identifies him with humanity and underscores his role as the Suffering Servant. 'Son of Man' also echoes the usage in the Book of Daniel, which refers to a heavenly figure who God gives authority and dominion. The title: “Son of Man” was a reference to a prophecy found in Daniel 7:13-14: I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

'Son of God,' on the other hand, emphasizes Jesus' divinity. It's a title that identifies him as the divine Son of God, equal with God in nature and authority. 'Son of God also underscores Jesus' role as the world’s Savior, who has come to redeem humanity from sin and death.

In conclusion, the term 'Son of Man' is a rich and multifaceted title that Jesus uses to refer to himself in the New Testament. It underscores his humanity, divinity, authority, and role as the Suffering Servant. It is a term that invites us to ponder the mystery of Jesus, the one who is both fully human and fully divine.

Frequently asked questions

How does the title "Son of Man" relate to Jesus' role as Savior?

  • The title 'Son of Man' is important in understanding Jesus' role as Savior.
  • It signifies his perfect humanity and humility, connecting him to those he came to save.
  • Jesus' authority to forgive sins and his suffering and rejection demonstrates his ultimate sacrifice.
  • We find redemption and eternal life through Jesus, the Son of Man.
  • His mission to rescue humanity and fulfill prophecies is essential to his role as Messiah.

What other titles or names are given to Jesus in the Bible?

Jesus is known by many names and titles in the Bible, each with profound meaning and significance:

  • Jesus: the Messiah, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies and bringing salvation to humanity
  • The Lamb of God: sacrificing himself for our sins
  • The Savior: offering grace and mercy
  • The King of Kings: reigning with authority and power
  • The Son of God: demonstrating true love and compassion for all

How does Jesus use the title "Son of Man" to demonstrate his humility?

Jesus' use of the title 'Son of Man demonstrates his humility in several ways:

  • By referring to himself as the Son of Man, Jesus emphasizes his close relationship with his disciples, creating a sense of equality and camaraderie.
  • His humble self-identification as the Son of Man profoundly impacted early Christianity, helping believers understand that Jesus willingly took on human form to relate to and save humanity.
  • This belief formed the foundation of their faith and influenced their understanding of Jesus' mission and sacrifice.
  • Jesus' humility further shines through his willingness to accept suffering and death for the greater good.
  • By referring to himself as the Son of Man, Jesus humbly exemplifies that God is accessible to all people, no matter their status or circumstances.

How does the title "Son of Man" connect Jesus to the prophecies in Daniel?

  • The title 'Son of Man' connects Jesus to the prophecies in the book of Daniel, signifying Jesus' role as the long-awaited Messiah.
  • The title symbolizes the bridge between divine authority and perfect humanity.
  • It fulfills the prophecies of Daniel with grace and power.
  • It represents Jesus' mission to rescue humanity from sin.
  • It is a testament to the intricate tapestry of prophecy woven throughout the book of Daniel.

How does the title "Son of Man" emphasize Jesus' authority and ability to forgive sins?

  • The title 'Son of Man' emphasizes Jesus' authority and ability to forgive sins.
  • It signifies Jesus' perfect humanity and humility as he came to save and connect with humanity.
  • It highlights his authority to forgive sins, displaying his divine power to offer redemption and reconciliation.
  • Through his sacrificial death, Jesus exemplifies his ability to forgive sins and offers the hope of salvation to all who believe in him.
  • The title reflects Jesus' divine power and compassion, illustrating his ability to forgive sins.
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Christian Pure Team
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Christian Pure Team
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