Questions and Answers
Why did Jesus refer to Himself as the Son of man when He is the Son of God?
The title “Son of man” seems so appropriate as an expression for the humanity of the Lord that many have jumped to the conclusion without making a more accurate investigation of its background and the manner in which the Lord used it. Others have extended it from a mere statement of His humanity to an expression defining Him as the head or the ideal of the human race. But, there’s a great deal more that’s involved in this title.
In Psalm 80:17 it has basically a Messianic aspect.
Psalms 80:17 (NASB) 17Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
In the Book of Ezekiel, where it’s used some 90 times, it signifies a prophetic mission, as it does in Daniel 8:17.
Daniel 8:17 (NASB) 17So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.”
In Daniel 7:13-14 it’s connected with Messiah’s return as king.
Daniel 7:13-14 (NASB) 13“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14“And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.
It’s evident, then, from the Older Testament, that the title “Son of man: has a definite Messianic significance. That our Lord so understood it is clear from the manner in which He used it:
Mark 8:38 (NASB) 38“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Jesus’ words in red)
Mark 13:26-27 (NASB) 26“Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. 27“And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. (Jesus’ words in red)
Mark 14:62 (NASB) 62And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” (Jesus’ words in red)
When our Lord Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
Matthew 16:13 (NASB) 13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Jesus’ words in red)
Peter replied with the Messianic title,
Matthew 16:16 (NASB) 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Lord immediately responded with –
Matthew 16:17 (NASB) 17And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Jesus’ words in red)
When the High Priest asked our Lord whether He was the Christ the following transpired:
Mark 14:61-65 (NASB) 61But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” 63Tearing his clothes, the high priest said*, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64“You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 65Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face. (Jesus’ words in red)
The fact is, that every instance of the use of this title connects most correctly with the Messianic aspect, whether the reference is to His suffering and death or to His coming to judgment and to reign.