Subject: Evidence #3 for Christmas: Jesus Christ, the ‘”Son of Man”
Jesus’s favorite name for Himself was “Son of Man”, occurring over 84 times in the Gospels. Josh McDowell, in his book “He walked among Us”, says that only once in the New Testament is the title “son of man” used for someone other than Jesus, and that’s in Hebrews 2:6, where quotes Psalm 8:4 and refers to a human being.
But the name “Son of Man” seems rather odd, maybe even a little unassuming. He would only rarely call Himself “Son of God”, which sounds much more impressive, don’t you think? And people kept trying to get Him to say He was the Christ, meaning “Anointed One”, which would have made Him an instant celebrity. After all, we’ve demonstrated in several previous articles that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, so He certainly had every right to declare Himself as God. Maybe He could have used a PR firm to help Him with His image. Maybe if He had been a little more flamboyant back then, we Americans today would be more attracted to Him. After all, He’d fit right in with our celebrity culture, where we like to give people names that make them larger than life, especially in sports (like ‘King James’, or ‘Neon Deon’). But Jesus felt the name “Son of Man” highlighted to His audience something critical about Himself that people needed to know.
We find our answer in the Old Testament. Only one time (of the 106 times it is used) does this name refer to God’s Messiah. The other 105 times, it refers to a specific human being (Josh McDowell again explains that in these other 105 times, 91 times it’s for Ezekiel and once for Daniel). That one Old Testament verse where the “Son of Man” points to God’s Messiah, the Christ, is Daniel 7:13 – “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.”
Guess which Old Testament verse for the “Son of Man” Jesus specifically applies to Himself at His trial, when He answers the Sanhedrin’s question if He is God’s promised Messiah? Mark 14:61-64 – “…the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Most High?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the SON OF MAN sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?’ And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.”
Why did they condemn Jesus to be executed? Because they understood that Daniel 7:13 spoke of the Messiah, and they understood Jesus was claiming to be that Messiah (God in the flesh, the promised Savior of Daniel 7:13). In their book “More than a Prophet”, Emir and Ergun Caner (former followers of Islam who are now followers of Christ and PhD University Professors of Theology) do an excellent job of explaining Jesus’s claim to Deity in Mark 14:62: “We have heard uninformed Christians say that Jesus referred to His deity in references to the ‘Son of God’ and to His humanity in references to ‘Son of Man.’ That seems reasonable, but it just isn’t so. The term ‘Son of Man’ carries with it both the presence of the Jewish Messiah and divine authority. The ‘Son of Man’ here (in Mark 14:62 – to – Daniel 7:13) has explicit authority: 1) He approached the Ancient of Days and is led into His presence. Islam rejects any proximity with Allah; 2) He is given the authority of God; 3) He is given glory. Islam glorifies no one but Allah. If Christ is the ‘Son of Man’, He is worthy of worship; 4) He is given sovereign power. Islam believes only Allah is sovereign. If Christ is given sovereign power, He is again worthy of worship; 5) The ‘Son of Man’ is worshipped. Jesus called on others to worship Him as the ‘Son of Man’.”
Now we can go back and answer our earlier question: “Why did Jesus choose to call Himself by what appeared to us as such an unassuming name?” As usual, He expects us to use our BRAINS. He is again, as in the previous 67 Old Testament prophecies we’ve examined, pointing to the biblical EVIDENCE for our Christian faith, with its substance centered on Himself. But there’s a second, and equally important reason, and it’s why we chose Daniel 7:13 as Evidence #3 for this Christmas season. It points to our God who, in complete humility, with no fanfare or PR firm, lowered Himself to become part of humanity, so He could fulfill His promise to us, to not only make Himself known to us, but make Himself totally accessible to us. In describing the lowly nature of Jesus, C.S. Lewis said it best, “If you want to get the hang of it (the Incarnation), think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.” I don’t know about you, but it’s just another example of His constant urging to reignite my passionate love for Him this Christmas season.