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Why the Son of Man?

Jesus Christ is called "the Son of Man" more than 80 times in the Bible. It was the term he most commonly used in referring to Himself. Whether in Aramaic (which Jesus spoke), Greek or Hebrew, the expression means an ordinary man.

Jesus Christ is called "the Son of Man" more than 80 times in the Bible. It was the term he most commonly used in referring to Himself. Whether in Aramaic (which Jesus spoke), Greek or Hebrew, the expression means an ordinary man.

This phrase "son of man" is used more than 90 times in the book of the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. It was God's way of addressing Ezekiel. It is also used in the Bible to refer to any ordinary man, not always to a prophet or one occupying a special position.

Still, since "the Son of Man" is used in reference to our Savior so many times, we should consider the spiritual implications of this phrase.

In what connection did Christ often use the phrase "the Son of Man"?

"The Son of man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men" (Matthew 17:22; compare 26:45; Mark 9:31; 14:41).

Jesus Christ repeatedly referred to Himself as "the Son of Man" in connection with His sufferings and sacrificial death.

In what other important respect did Jesus use this term?

"So Jesus said to them [the disciples], 'Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel'" (Matthew 19:28).

Christ also used the term "Son of Man" when referring to His role as the coming ruler of humanity in the Kingdom of God.

Is this phrase connected to a special day?

"And He [Jesus] said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath'" (Mark 2:27-28; compare 12:8; Luke 6:5).

Christ is Creator (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2), and the Sabbath was instituted just after man was made (Genesis 2:3). So the Son of Man had the authority to give us spiritual instruction on how to properly observe the seventh day with mercy and compassion. (If you would like more information about this special day of God, please request our free booklet Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest.) The command to observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy is the Fourth of the Ten Commandments.

What question did the Son of Man ask the disciples?

"When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?'" (Matthew 16:13).

They replied by recounting several commonly held—but erroneous—beliefs about Christ's identity.

But what was Simon Peter's unusual insight?

"And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven'" (Matthew 16:16-17).

Through the Father's inspiration, Peter responded by saying that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, is also the Son of the living God. Though on occasion His apostles referred to Christ as the Son of God (Matthew 14:33; John 20:31; etc.), He rarely used that term to describe Himself. Evidently He chose to deliberately emphasize that He identifies with our plight—the sorrows and sufferings of mankind. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah calls Him "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).

 

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