Tag: Is Jesus the Son of God or the Son of Man?

Why is Jesus called the Son of Man?

Why is Jesus called the Son of Man?

During His earthly ministry, Jesus’ favorite designation in referring to Himself was “the Son of Man.” As a matter of fact, seventy-eight times the Gospels record Jesus using this title for Himself.

One of the most notable instances was when Jesus asked His disciples the question about His identity and put it to them this way:

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am” (Matthew 16:13)?

Why did Jesus refer to Himself as the “Son of Man?” Why not call Himself “the Messiah,” “the Son of God” or “the Son of David.” After all, each of these titles was rightfully His.

The Phrase “Son of Man” in the Old Testament

In the Hebrew Bible, the Hebrew expression “son of man” appears 107 times, the majority (93 times) of which appears in the book of Ezekiel. And there are three ways that this expression is used:

  • to contrast the lowly status of humanity against the exalted dignity of God and the angels (Psalm 8:4; Numbers 23:19).
  • as a form of human address to Ezekiel.
  • as a future eschatological figure whose coming will signal the end of history and the time of God’s judgment (Daniel 7:13-14).

The phrase Son of Man in the Old and New Testament

The Phrase “Son of Man” in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Jesus is called “the Son of Man” eighty-eight times. What is the significance of using this designation for Himself? Below are several ways by which the phrase is used.

It is Connected with the Sufferings of Jesus.

The title “Son of Man” is connected with the sufferings that Jesus would experience on behalf of His humanity. Notice that Jesus used this title when He began to predict what would happen to Him in the future (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 8:31).

We do not find the Lord referring to Himself with titles such as Messiah or Son of God, when predicting His suffering on the cross, as well as His resurrection. Rather, He used the title “Son of Man.”

It is Connected with Jesus’ Earthly Life and Ministry.

When Jesus took on humanity to save mankind, Jesus was recorded saying He had no place to call home. Matthew records the following:

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).

It Refers to Jesus’ Perfect Humanity.

Some believe the title “Son of Man” refers to the fact of Jesus’ perfect humanity. Although He was God, Jesus came down and lived among us as the perfect human being. In so doing, He fulfilled the Law of Moses and did what no other human being was able to do.

By using the title “Son of Man,” Jesus was identifying with the people He had come to save. Jesus wanted to convey the truth that He was entirely human; that although He was God, He became a human being and lived among us for a short period of time.

It is Used in Contexts where Jesus Claims Deity.

Many people who believe that Jesus was just a man use the argument that Jesus never claimed to be God to support their position. In fact, they say, Jesus referred to Himself as the son of man. Yet, we find this designation used in contexts where Jesus claimed deity.

Here are just a few examples:

1. In Mark 2:10, Jesus uses the title Son of Man for Himself when claiming authority to forgive sins. The Jews recognize that only God can forgive sins and yet Jesus used this authority while using the title “Son of Man” rather than “Son of God.”

2. In Mark 2:28, Jesus claimed that He, the Son of Man was “Lord of the Sabbath.” Again, we find this designation of Himself used in a context of rights and privileges which belong to God alone. Indeed, only God Himself could claim that He is Lord of the Sabbath.

3. In Luke 19:10, Jesus used the title “Son of Man” for Himself when He stated that He came to earth to save the lost.

4. In the book of Daniel, we read of the prediction that the Son of Man would inherit God’s everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14).

In this context, the Son of Man is a divine Person who is in the presence of the Ancient of Days (God the Father). Obviously, this cannot refer to an ordinary human being for no human being could be in such a position.

Therefore, by using the title the Son of Man, Jesus was actually claiming deity. Furthermore, when Jesus was on trial for His life and was asked if He were the Messiah, He referred to this prediction in Daniel.

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” (Mark 14:62).

Jesus’ statement infuriated the religious leaders and charged Him of blasphemy for claiming equal authority with God. They clearly understood that Jesus referred to Daniel’s prophecy and was claiming the position of authority with God.

Why is Jesus called the Son of Man

It Speaks of Jesus’ Exaltation and Rule.

Jesus also used the title “Son of Man” when He spoke of His return to the earth and His rule (Matthew 25:31). Jesus will come to rule and reign the title Son of Man will be His favorite once again.

Conclusion

Why did Jesus prefer to be called the Son of Man?

Some might think that the title Son of God refers to Jesus’ deity and Son of Man implies His humanity. However, the term Son of Man goes back to Daniel’s vision of a divine being who was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that shall not be destroyed and will be worshiped by all peoples, nations, and languages.

Son of Man is not merely a title for a human being. It is a title that belongs to God Himself and the religious leaders who were schooled in the Old Testament Scriptures knew exactly what Jesus was claiming for Himself.


Recommended Resource: Son of Man: The Gospel of Daniel 7 and Son of Man: The Apostles’ Gospel by Samuel Whitefield

Jesus never used the title Messiah publicly and, instead, referred to Himself as the Son of Man 78 times. Why?

Son of Man by Samuel Whitefield

The New Testament Gospels, as they are written, depend on Daniel 7. Jesus referenced this chapter far more than any other to reveal Himself as the divine Human and to declare His gospel.

Jesus’ first-century audience understood His message, but we have lost sight of the way Jesus presented His gospel. Our understanding of Jesus, our grasp of the biblical story, and our ability to clearly communicate the gospel have been seriously hindered by our not fully understanding one particular chapter in the Bible.

Daniel 7 is not just an end-time chapter. Based on Jesus’ words, Daniel 7 is a gospel-centered chapter and perhaps the premier summary of Jesus’ majesty.

If we do not know this chapter, we cannot fully grasp the gospel. Jesus commissioned us to carry the message found in this chapter to every people, but we cannot carry what we do not understand. Let Daniel open your eyes to the gospel as Jesus proclaimed it.

Did the apostles continue to use Daniel 7 as a foundation for their gospel? When we examine the New Testament carefully, we find something surprising: Daniel 7 was a framework the apostles repeatedly used to present the gospel of the kingdom.

View the apostles’ gospel through the lens of Daniel 7 in Son of Man: The Apostles’ Gospel, and rediscover the message that turned the world upside down.