Last week, we began our look at “God With Us” by seeing Jesus as the Son of God – God the Son. This week, we continue that study be looking at Jesus as the Son of Man.
Son of Man
The most prominent way Jesus referred to himself was as the Son of Man, doing so eighty-one times in the gospel accounts. This seems to be a reference back to something the prophet Daniel said long before the birth of Jesus:
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
– Daniel 7:13-14, ESV
Following the resurrection, John saw Jesus once again, and he described him standing among the lampstands as “one like a son of man.”1
Jesus is undeniably the Son of God, but he seems to want us to know him as the Son of Man. It is as though he knew that it would be easier for us to accept him as Immanuel, God with us, but that it would be difficult for us to accept him as fully human, just like us.
It is tempting to look at Jesus and see him as a man with an inside edge, a deity card up his sleeve that he could pull out any time he needed it. The writer of Hebrews, recognizing this difficulty, addressed it in this way:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
– Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV
And again, in this way:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same…
– Hebrews 1:14a, NASB
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
– Hebrews 1:17-18, NASB
Jesus experienced pain, hunger,2 thirst,3 fatigue,4 sorrow,5 anger,6 temptation.7 He knows what it means to experience extreme stress.8 When he ascended to heaven, he did so in a human body.9 And to this day, he retains his identity with us, as the Son, being forever subjected to the Father who put all things under his feet.10
The apostle Paul states very clearly to the church in Philippi that God took on flesh, being made in the likeness of men, and allowed himself to be put to death on a cross,11 thus confirming what is said in John’s gospel that the creator God became flesh and dwelt (literally “pitched his tent”) among us.12 Thus, Jesus is God, and Jesus is man.
How, then, does this truth impact the Christ-follower? What does God in the flesh want from his people? We will look at that next week.
1. Revelation 1:13
2. Matthew 4:2, Luke 4:2
3. John 4:7, 19:28
4. Mark 6:31-32, John 4:6
5. Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34, 19:41-44, John 11:35
6. Mark 11:15-17, John 2:13-17
7. Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:1-2
8. Luke 22:44, Some have identified this as the medical condition known as hematidrosis, or sometimes called hematohidrosis. This is derived from the Greek terms αἷμα (haima) and ἱδρώς (hidrōs) which we can, somewhat crudely, translate as “blood sweat.”
9. Acts 1:9-11
10. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
11. Philippians 2:5-8
12. John 1:14