Speaking Of Life 2017 | Do You Believe in the Son of Man?
After Jesus heals a man born blind in John 9, he poses a question to him, using a phrase we see a lot in the gospels: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
Son of man is a phrase Jesus uses 81 times in the gospels to describe himself—more than any other term. And yet it still confuses most of us. The term first appeared in Daniel 7, written centuries before, in which the prophet describes a dream, or vision.
In his frightening dream, apocalyptic beasts are coming out of the sea and wreaking havoc. Now, all through the Old Testament, the image of a “beast” is used to describe people and empires who’ve given themselves over to sin and become enemies of God. So Daniel is dreaming about the “beastly” empire of Babylon laying waste to the earth. But this monstrosity is defeated by a mysterious character who appears:
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 ESV
So, the title Jesus chose to use most often for himself was the title given to this figure that defeats the beasts of sin and is enthroned above the universe at the right hand of God.
Knowing this can help us unlock some of Jesus’ other statements, such as his interrogation before the high council in Mark. The High Priest demands to know if he is the Christ, Jesus says in Mark 14, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.
That’s what we saw described in Daniel’s vision—the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. Ironically, this term which seems very human—“Son of Man”—signifies that Jesus is so much more than human. He connects himself with the much larger story of redemption, defeating that first Beast who slithered into the Garden of Eden.
Knowing Jesus is not only knowing the comforting, close presence of someone who spent his earthly life on the rough side of town working with his hands, but it is also knowing the Son of Man who is the prince of the universe—eternal, mysterious, apocalyptic. He is there, encouraging you to listen to your spouse and love the difficult people in your life, while at the same time he is there, spinning the rings of Saturn and keeping the sun burning.
And so we come to a part of our Christian life where we can’t fully understand, we can only behold, and worship, the Son of Man.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.