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Son of Man
Themes
5:51
Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of Man. But what does this mean? Explore this fascinating phrase to see its significance.
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The Good News About Jesus the Messiah

One of the most common ways that Jesus is referred to in the New Testament is with the title “Christ.” This word means “anointed one” or “messiah,” and it refers to the Jewish hope of a royal savior who comes to save the world from death and evil. The four Gospel accounts are full of moments where people acknowledge Jesus as “the Christ.” It makes sense that Jesus would be called by this title, but it does leave one surprising detail unexplained. Jesus almost never uses this title to describe himself. Instead, he regularly uses another title, “the Son of Man.”

The Son of the Woman

But God made a promise (Genesis 3:15) that one day a human—the son of the woman—would come to crush the serpent’s head, while also being struck by the serpent. This theme develops throughout the biblical story as God continues to raise up unlikely deliverers like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Deborah, Samuel, and David. Each one of these characters is both heroic and compromised. Each one can become a glorious human representative of God or a deceptive and selfish agent of evil and violence. And so the patient reader of the Hebrew Bible must wait for the next generation to produce the promised human of Genesis 3.

The book of Daniel develops this imagery even further.

The book of Daniel introduces the metaphor of human kingdoms as senseless beasts. In Daniel chapter 4, the king of Babylon refuses to acknowledge God as his authority and is reduced to the status of a mindless animal. It’s a reversal of Genesis 1, as a human ruler is brought low to the level of the beast.

And then in Daniel chapter 7, Daniel has a dream about wild and terrible beasts that symbolize the mighty empires that ravage God’s good world. But then Daniel sees a human figure called the Son of Man whom God exalts above the beasts to rule beside him on a divine throne. This Son of Man is raised to glorious rule and is worshiped alongside God as the divine King of creation. This dream summarizes the entire biblical story up to this point: God wants humanity to be unified with him to rule creation as his image-bearing partners. But humanity has become beast-like, so our hope is in a human who will come and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Jesus is that Son of Man. He is the divine-human partner that will restore humanity back to the glorious destiny that God intended.

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