Continuing our study of the names of Jesus, we begin today by noting that the two names we have looked at so far, Christ and Lord, are the names that the New Testament uses more than any other for our Savior. However, when we ask which name Jesus used for Himself more than any other, we find that it was neither Christ nor Lord. Instead, Jesus used the name Son of Man for Himself more than any other name. Son of Man is used as a title for Jesus eighty-two times in the New Testament, and all but three of these appear on the lips of Jesus Himself. Others refer to Jesus as the “Son of Man” only in Acts 7:56 and Revelation 1:13 and 14:14.
Given that Jesus so frequently referred to Himself as the “Son of Man,” it is worth taking the time to understand what He meant by that name or title. Many people who have never considered the issue before might think that the name is a reference to the humanity of Jesus. Scripture is clear that God the Son took on a true human nature in the incarnation and remains truly human and truly God (John 1:1–14). But the name Son of Man is no mere reference to Christ’s humanity. We get hints of that when Jesus speaks of the Son of Man coming on the clouds (Mark 13:26), which points us in the direction of the name’s having some kind of heavenly significance. And this is confirmed when we look in the Old Testament for the figure who is the Son of Man who comes on the clouds with authority to judge.
Daniel 7:9–14 speaks of “one like a son of man” who comes into the presence of the Ancient of Days—God Almighty—and receives a kingdom and authority over creation. The prophet’s vision is of the last days when this “one like a son of man” is enthroned over all. Given what the New Testament says about the ascension of Jesus and His enthronement as Lord over all (Acts 2:14–36), we understand that Jesus is the Son of Man prophesied in Daniel. Daniel saw a vision of Jesus returning to the Father for His coronation as King of kings and Lord of lords after the completion of His earthly ministry.
That is not all, however. Revelation 1:12–16 also reveals “one like a son of man,” and the description of Jesus in this passage has much in common with the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9–10. We see, then, that although the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man can be distinguished, they also share the same attributes of glory and power. The name Son of Man, therefore, also points to the deity of Christ.
The background of the title Son of Man shows us how important it is to be conversant with the Old Testament. The Old Testament provides the necessary background for understanding the life and ministry of Jesus, so as our understanding of the Old Testament improves, so will our understanding of Christ.