Son of Man!

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The way, the truth and the life!

I’ve interacted with Muslim’s in different parts of the world. The one question asked by the majority of them, at some point is, did Jesus ever say that he was God? The short answer, yes. When he refers to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ it is, I think, misunderstood that he is speaking of his humanity, as opposed to his deity. I once thought that way myself. But it is incorrect. To understand the phrase ‘Son of Man’ we must needs go back to the Old Testament, and the book of Daniel:

” I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

The ‘Son of Man’ here is given “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom…an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Other successive kingdoms, empires were represented by the figure of some appointed beast, but their reign was temporary (Daniel 7:12). In contrast with such this one’s kingdom shall appear in the vision as a man. And his kingdom shall be everlasting. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew and understood the term ‘Son of Man’ and that’s why they were so filled with rage when he used as appropriate for himself. They understood that the ‘Son of Man’ would be their deliverer, that he would indeed come “with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13), and be the final judge of all mankind. Jesus applied this title to himself, and thus incurred the wrath of the Jews. It doesn’t simply identify him as a man, apart from his divinity. It identifies his as the heavenly Person who would “come with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13), and finally judge the world in righteousness. The martyr Stephen confirms this for us does he not:

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).

He, Stephen, is seeing the same vision Daniel saw and prophesies in Daniel chapter seven. The heavenly Person, the ‘Son of Man’ appearing in the glorious presence of God. Jesus himself confirms this:

“Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). And, “and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).

So make no mistake as the meaning of this phrase, the ‘Son of Man’ as Jesus applies it to himself. The contrast to his humility clearly expressed in his earthly sojourn, suffering and death (Philippians 2:5-8), is intentional. It speaks of his stupendous dignity that correctly belongs to him, the ‘Son of Man.’ He is man’s Creator, Law-giver, and final Judge. Make no mistake, he is God manifest in the flesh (1Timothy 3:16). He is the transcendent heavenly man of Daniel’s vision and he’s coming soon with the clouds of heaven, and to finally judge the world. To usher in his everlasting kingdom. Jesus Christ, there is no other God but he.

(© James R Hamilton, 3rd May 2017)
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