“Who is this Son of Man?”
is this Son of Man?” (John 12:27-34). The people ask a question here that
is important for us today. They were questioning what Jesus meant when he
referred to “the Son of Man.” This morning I would like for us to
ask the same question in our study together—“Who is this Son of
I. Basic Meaning.
There is much debate in the scholarly
world about the meaning of the phrase “son of man” and how it would
have been understood in the time of Jesus. The Bible can help us answer this
question. There are times it can mean merely “man” (i.e. a human
is not a man…nor a son of man” (Numbers 23:19). Heb. ben-‘adam
meaning “son of man, son of Adam. ‘adamah means “earth or red earth” (from which Adam’s name is drawn).
This use is common even outside of Scripture. Ugaritic texts use the
phrase bn-‘adm to mean
simply “man” (Mark S. Smith, “The ‘Son of
Man’ in Ugaritic,” CBQ 45 (1983):59-60).
who is a maggot…and the son of man who is a worm” (Job
is man…and the son of man?” (Psalm 8:4; 144:3 [ben-‘anish
– a more generic word for man];
Hebrews 2:6 quotes Ps. 8:4). This makes it clear that by NT times the phrase could still mean
just “man” or “human being.”
II. Specialized Meaning. There
are times God chooses a “son of man.” This “son of man”
who is chosen may receive special blessings, revelations, or fulfill a special
work for God.
son of man whom You made strong” (Psalm 80:17).
prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:1). 93 times in the book.
prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:17). Refers to Daniel.
like the Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13-18). Aramaic here bar-‘anash
– “son of man.” This
is a different sense. Here one “like the Son of Man” (i.e. He bears the
likeness of a man): 1) Comes on clouds, 2) Has an everlasting kingdom
III. Jesus’ Self-Identification as the Son of
Man.” In the gospels the phrase “Son of Man” is
how Jesus refers to Himself more than any other. In the (Matthew – 30;
Mark – 13; Luke – 26; John – 11 = In Gospels – 80
the Son of Man” (Matthew 16:13). This has led some scholars to understand
the phrase as an idiom meaning “I” (Maurice Casey, “The
Jackals and the Son of Man,” JSNT 23
(1985):3-22). But it is clear that there is more to it in Jesus’ use of
of Man” with Divine attributes.
Heavenly origin (John 3:13). John 6:62 “Son of Man
ascending to where He was before.”
Power to forgive sins (healing lame man - Matthew 9:6). Only
God can forgive sins.
Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). God is the one who
instituted the Sabbath.
Command of angels (Matthew 13:41; 16:27; 25:31; John 1:51).
Judgment (Matt. 16:27; Mark 8:38; John 5:27).
Salvation (Matthew 18:11; John 6:27).
Power over death (Matthew 12:40). Matthew 17:9 “risen
from the dead”
C. Son of
Man as King (Matthew 16:27-28; 19:28). This begins to reflect the specialized
meaning of Daniel in speaking of “Son of Man” as a king. But even further…
on the clouds”—Daniel fulfilled (Matthew 24:29-31; 26:64). Jesus
here clearly identifies Himself as the subject of Daniel’s prophecy.
IV. Jesus, After the Cross.
Son of Man” (Acts 7:56).
Jesus, as the “One like the Son of Man”
(Revelation 1:12-18; Revelation 14:13-17 “Son of Man” harvesting
Conclusion. “Son of man”
means a human being, but the Bible pointed to one who would come as a human
being and receive an eternal kingdom. Jesus, the Son of God did just this. He
came as “the Son of Man” and was exalted (Philippians 2:5-11).
Kyle Pope 2009