Son of Man
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him” (Dan. 7:13).- Daniel 7:9–14
As we have noted over the past few days, the titles “Christ” and “Lord” are the most frequently used titles for Jesus by the New Testament authors. However, the title that we find most often on the lips of Jesus to refer to Himself is neither one of these. Instead, He most frequently uses the title “Son of Man.”
Determining the way in which Jesus used this name is vital if we want to know what Jesus thought about Himself. Does the title simply teach that Jesus was a true human being? Or, does it have some relation to the prophet Ezekiel who was called “son of man” on many occasions (for example, Ezek. 2:1).
It is beyond doubt that Jesus was fully human. It is also clear that Jesus was a prophet. While these ideas may be incorporated into Jesus’ use of the title “Son of Man,” they are not the title’s primary meanings. When Jesus uses this title He has something far greater in mind.
Today’s passage is the background for Jesus’ use of the title “Son of Man.” In Daniel 7, the prophet Daniel records several of the visions he was given while living in Babylon. In verses 9–14, Daniel describes the vision he had of God Almighty. In this vision, God (the “Ancient of Days,” [v. 9]) sits in judgment over the beasts that had been ruling the earth. He executes judgment and takes their dominion away from them (vv. 11–12).
The dominion of the earth is taken from the beasts and given to “one like a son of man” (v. 13). This one becomes Lord of all and is given to reign over all “peoples, nations, and languages” in a kingdom that will never end (v. 14).
This son of man, above all else, is a heavenly figure. It emphasizes the origin, majesty, and dignity of this ruler who will rule over all things forevermore. When Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man,” He is identifying Himself with this heavenly figure from the book of Daniel. We know this to be the case from passages like Mark 13:26 in which Jesus speaks of His coming on the clouds just as the Daniel 7 passage refers to the “son of man.”
When Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man,” He emphasizes His heavenly origin. Moreover, when Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man” we know that He is the King who will reign forevermore.
Enemies of the faith say that Jesus never claimed a special heavenly status or kingship for Himself. But, as we have seen, when Jesus calls Himself “Son of Man,” He is claiming to be sovereign over all things. Pray for those who will not submit to Christ’s rule that they may see that they owe obedience toward the King of kings.
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