A Question I Was Asked:

Why Did Jesus Call Himself 'The Son of Man'?

Why did Jesus call Himself 'The Son of Man'? I have always wondered about this.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Actually Jesus referred to Himself most often as the 'Son of Man,' rather than as 'Son of God.' He uses the term of Himself no less than 78 times!

Now, on the face of it, 'Son of Man' might seem as simply an alternative phrase for 'human being,' but there is more to it than that, Jesus was identifying Himself with a phrase which Daniel the Prophet had used in Daniel 7:

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14, my emphasis).

This, of course, is a very clear prophecy of Jesus Christ.

Next, let us look at Mark:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45).

Now let us consider a few other examples of Jesus' use of this term to describe Himself:

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31).

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory (Matthew 25:31).

When Jesus was on trial and was asked if He were the Messiah, He referred to this title:

It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64).

This statement infuriated the religious rulers. Through their lack of understanding they accused Him of blasphemy for claiming equal authority with God.

So the 'Son of Man' is a title that was used exclusively by Jesus to describe Himself - the disciples never addressed Him by this term. Jesus used it to emphasize His humanity, but also to clearly identify Himself with the prophecy of Daniel 7, where the Son of Man would inherit the everlasting kingdom of God. It is a designation of the Messiah. At His trial Jesus acknowledged that He indeed was the Son of Man - the one who would bring in God's everlasting kingdom. When the religious leaders heard this they accused Him of blasphemy - making Himself equal with God.

The purpose of this title then is:

1. To clearly identify Himself with the prophecy of Daniel 7. It is the Son of Man Who would receive the kingdom from the Father. This commenced not from His Second Coming (as some persist in claiming) but from His First Coming (Matthew 28:1-20; Hebrews 2:9), we must remember that He defeated Satan in the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), dethroning him and casting him out of Heaven at the time of the preaching of the kingdom of God, the crucifixion and resurrection (Luke 10:17-20; Revelation 20:1-3). Even though earthly kingdoms presently still continue to exist outside of the authority of Jesus, they now continue only on borrowed time.

2. The purpose of the title is also to focus on Jesus' own humanity. As 'Son of Man' He is the supreme human being and supreme representative of the human race. He is Man, indeed the perfect unsinning Man, as well as being God. He is not some strange unworldly creature, He is the most perfectly and fully qualified Man of all time!

Robin A. Brace. April 13th, 2017.