Jesus, the Son of Man

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 12/11/2013

Who is this Jesus whom we are celebrating this Christmas? Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson write in Name above All Names about the title Jesus used to refer to Himself:

Given [the vision of the Son of Man coming “with the clouds of heaven” “to the Ancient of Days” in] Daniel 7, there is more to Jesus’ use of the title “Son of Man” than a simple stress on his humanity in distinction from his deity. The picture of the vision is one of unparalleled triumph, magnificence, and, indeed, glory. The Son of Man is seen coming to the throne of the Majesty on High, the Ancient of Days, and receiving authority over the whole cosmos. The rationale for this title cannot be that it stresses humility rather than great dignity! Somehow both are involved.

“Son of” is a Hebrew way of saying “possessing the properties of, being characterized by, exhibiting the marks of.” The expression “son of destruction” means a person for whom destruction is in character....

So, when the Scriptures use the expression “son of man,” one latent aspect of its meaning is: “here is a true man”....

But it is also worth noting that in Ezekiel the expression is used without the definite article. Ezekiel is a son of man, not “the Son of Man”! The Lord Jesus alone is the Son of Man....

The term appears again, significantly, in Psalm 8, in the question, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Psalm 8 is a meditation on creation and on the sheer condescending goodness of God in making man as his image and in his likeness. We contribute nothing to our own existence, and yet God has lavished privileges upon us—and did so first of all on Adam. The son of man is God’s image, privileged to be given a kind of threefold office. He is to be the prophet who brings God’s word to all creation. He is to be the priest, indeed the liturgist, who gives intelligent expression to the worship that is due from all of God’s creatures. He is to be the king who will exercise his reign and dominion.

The background, therefore, to Jesus’ use of the expression as a self-identifier seems to lie in the creation of Adam, the ministry of Ezekiel, and the vision of Daniel.

Jesus is the real man, or, in Martin Luther’s expression “The Proper Man.” He is “man as he was created to be” and “the man who fulfills man’s destiny.”