THE GLORIOUS NAMES OF JESUS
REPRINT OF AMOS R. WELLS 1926
chapter 4 – The Son Of Man
Something To Consider:
Our favorite name for Jesus is not His favorite name for Himself. Our favorite name is probably the “Good Shepherd” or the “Bread of Life” or the “Great Teacher,” or some other title indicating what Jesus will do for us. But our Lord’s chosen name for Himself was descriptive of Himself rather than of His deeds. His personally chosen name was the “Son of Man.”
The gospels were ever faithful to the above fact, and they amply illustrated this preference of our Savior. In Matthew, Jesus speaks of Himself as the “Son of Man” thirty times; in Mark, fifteen times; in Luke, twenty-five times; and in John’s gospel eleven times. Also, in John, the title is found being proclaimed in the mouth of another who was inquiring about Jesus and His nature in John 12.34.
If we look further in the New Testament, we find the title used only three times, once in Acts by Stephen as he had a vision of the glorified Christ just before his martyrdom; and twice in the book of Revelation, each time in John’s vision of the glorified Redeemer.
What is the significance of this title, and why did Jesus apply it to Himself? There are several answers to these questions; and the answers seem contradictory but are not! It may be said that Jesus called Himself the “Son of Man” in distinction from His other title of the “Son of God.”
Jesus was the perfect Man as well as the perfect God. He was deeply conscience of His deity, and so eager to get close to men, women, and young people in order to lift them up, that He feared lest His deity should come between Him and humankind and prevent the contact of His love, and therefore, hinder His atoning work.
Therefore, Jesus chose as His favorite designation of Himself the name which most of all brought forward His essential oneness with humanity. David, the psalmist asked, “What is man that You [God] are mindful of him [or her]. And the Son of Man, that You visit us?”
Such a wonderful thing that the “Son of Man” our Lord, would desire to be so displayed in such humility. With all our affliction He would choose to be afflicted. He desires to be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, while being tempted in all points as we are tempted, and that He would be our brother and friend in our deepest of reality. For these reasons of overwhelming love, He was willing to call himself the “Son of Man.”
Something Else To Consider:
All this is profoundly true, and certainly constitutes one reason for this title of our Lord; but there may be another reason as well. No fewer than ninety times in the prophecies of Ezekiel, that great Old Testament prophet calls himself the son of man.
By this Ezekiel did not mean that he was representative man, and certainly he did not mean that he was God needing to assert his humanity in order to come close to his creatures. By the term, Ezekiel simply meant that he was a mere man whom the Spirit of God had chosen to enlighten and to empower in order that Ezekiel may be a vessel of divine inspiration to every generation since. In other words, Ezekiel was enabled by God and chosen to speak God’s words.
Now it may be that Jesus, in calling Himself the “Son of Man,’ had Ezekiel in mind. It may be that thereby He wished to remind His hearers of the great line of the ancient prophets and to imply that He was of that glorious succession. Certainly, Jesus was more than just a prophet, and incomparably more than the greatest of all the prophets.
Certainly, His knowledge of God was infinitely superior to Ezekiel’s, His revelation of God infinitely more beautiful and majestic, and His plans for His kingdom were beyond comparison and more noble than Ezekiel’s plans for the nation of Israel. Therefore, to call Jesus a second Ezekiel would be a term of derogation, and yet there may have been some such thought in His use of Ezekiel’s son of man as his own much used title.
Something More To Consider:
Still a third possible explanation may enter into the full understanding of this splendid title, and for it we turn to another great prophet, Daniel. The seventh chapter of that marvelous prophecy is especially worth our study and is the crown of all his visions.
According to Daniel, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven One like unto a Son of Man [Jesus], and He came even unto the Ancient of Days [God the Father], and they brought Him [Jesus] near before Him [God the Father]. And there was given Him [Jesus] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him [Jesus]; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom which shall not be destroyed.”
This wonderous picture of the Messiah must have been in the Savior’s mind when He called Himself the “Son of Man,” and especially when once and again He told how He would come in the clouds, with angelic beings, in power and in great glory, and that He would sit on the throne of His glory. That is another significance that enters into the splendid meaning of the “Son of Man.”
A Few Final Words:
I think, therefore, that this is the most comprehensive of all of Christ Jesus’ many titles. It is the name of His humiliation and of His exaltation. It describes His manhood and His Messiahship. It portrays Him as Prophet, Priest, and King.
This title looks backward to Ezekiel and forward to the not-so-distant future with the prophetic words of Daniel. When we comprehend fully what Jesus meant by calling Himself the “Son of Man”, we shall have gained a more complete view of Jesus, the “Son of Man” and yet, the “Son of God”.
Our Father in heaven, thank You that Jesus was not merely the Son of God, and therefore leaving a vast distance between humanity and You Father. Thank You for Jesus’ also being the Son of God and the Son of Man, therefore, being more than able to bridge the tremendous distance between God and the human race. Jesus is many things, but we are thankful today that He is the Son of Man. In Him Always, Amen!