Jesus declared Himself the ‘Son of Man’ over and over and over again. I have no problems understanding the title Son God which others gave Him. But no one else called Him the Son of Man in the Gospels. He alone gave that title to Himself. Why?
To find the answer, we have to go outside the Gospels. It won’t take us long to read these references, there are only a few. I promise they are worth the read.
Daniel 7:9-14 is the key passage. It is safe to say that the people of Jesus’ time would have been more familiar with this book of prophecy than any other. This small book was written during the exile just a few generations before.
Daniel’s visions of the empires had been fulfilled with the greatest of accuracy in rapid succession of time. The Babylonian empire fell to the Medes and Persians. The Greek empire shattered them just as Daniel had said. Now in Jesus’ time, the Romans were ruling and everyone knew that all four empires, which had blended into each other, would be shattered quickly and completely by the great Rock. (Daniel 2:45) These events would be considered recent history to this first century people. So no doubt, the masses knew the book of Daniel and were awaiting the end to the empires of men.
Daniel 7 show a glimpse into heaven as the ‘beasts with horns’ rulers were destroyed. In this vision the Ancient of Days on the throne of fire representing judgment. Here we also see the coronation of Jesus. He is the one like a ‘son of man’ coming with the clouds, meaning He is deity. Here you have God but His form is like a man.
Jesus is the part of the Triune God who took human form. He is given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worship Him. (Only God is to be worshiped.) His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel saw the Rock, which will crush the kingdoms of the earth and rule forever and ever. He saw Jesus, the Son of man, God in human form.
Now fast forward a few hundred years and hear Jesus say over and over, “I am the Son of man.” He was saying to the people, “I AM God in human form. I have been given all authority and my kingdom will never end.” Oh, this truly is huge. No wonder the Pharisees and Sadducees screamed blasphemy.
Interesting note here, when Ezekiel saw this One, ‘a figure like that of a man’, he fell facedown and had to be picked up by the Spirit. (Ezekiel 1:25-2:2) John in Revelation 1:12-17 saw this same One ‘like a son of man’ and he too fell at His feet as though dead.
Here is the difference of those who see with spiritual eyes into the Kingdom of God and those with hardened hearts who only see the flesh. Lord, give me eyes to see as You see.
Most of the time Jesus used this name, He was referring to Himself as the Exalted One that will come in the clouds with great power and victory. He was telling the people that He was indeed the One Daniel had seen and the prophecy would be fulfilled.
Next He used this term to say that the Son of man was also the Suffering One who had come to be crucified and rise again. He was teaching them that this same One in Daniel 7 was the One who had to fulfill Isaiah 53 prophecy.
But finally He used the term to describe Himself as the Lowly One. He tied the first two together to say that He had left all the splendor of Glory to live among lowly men to fulfill His Father’s plan. As Augustine said it, “The Son of God became the Son of man that you who were sons of men might be made sons of God.”
Only Jesus is the Son of man and Son of God united in one person. He is the One seated on the cloud with a crown of gold on His head and sharp sickle in His hand. (Revelation 14:14) He will judge the earth and is to be feared. But never forget, He is also the One who will stand and welcome us home as He did Stephen. (Acts 7:54-56)
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Now that is a vision I want to see.