Why is Jesus Called Son of Man from Genesis to Revelation

Son of Man is a profoundly important Messianic title of Jesus Christ. But it might not be immediately clear why.

So why is Jesus called Son of Man in the Bible?

The Old Testament uses a number of distinctive titles to describe the coming Messiah. 

Some of these titles are Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, Branch, Root of Jesse, Son of Abraham and Son of David.

Each Messianic title gives us a different aspect of the Messiah –who he would be, where he would come from and even where he would appear.

The Old Testament uses the term “Son of Man” in only a few places. And these usages give us clues about the importance of this term.

Jesus Christ directly refers to himself as the Son of Man in many places in the Gospels, but he is called the same by only one person.

Let’s discuss this important title.

Why did Jesus Use the Title Son of Man?

Jesus Christ used the specific title Son of Man for the following reasons:

  1. To highlight His humanity – Jesus is both fully human and fully God. He is God who has come in the flesh.

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. 1 John 4:2

2. To emphasize His deity – Jesus is not just any son of man, He is THE Son of Man. The ultimate example of what God intended for mankind in Colossians 2:9, ESV.

Simon Peter acknowledges the deity of Christ in Matthew 16:16, ESV by answering Him: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

3. To portray His humility – Christ intentionally lowered His status as He took on human flesh as He was tempted (yet never sinned) and had to suffer affliction at the hands of men. Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8)

4. To fulfill Old Testament prophecy – In Daniel 7:13–14 we find that Daniel saw “one like a Son of Man” who received glory, worship and a kingdom that will not pass away. Thus, Jesus used this title as a statement of fulfilling prophecy.

The Son of Man Is Given Dominion

“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.
14 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

Remember – Jesus didn’t just randomly use the title “Son of Man” – He wanted to highlight his humanity, humility and deity while also fulfilling prophecy.

There’s a reason why “Son of Man” is found 88 times in the New Testament (30 of which are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew) and even more astonishingly, this title is found in the OT as well.

In fact, there’s only a single instance in which someone else refers to Jesus as the Son of Man in the New Testament and that’s Stephen, prior to being stoned to death. (Acts 7:56)

Eventually, the title “Son of Man” is the ultimate embodiment of Jesus’ identity as the One Who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

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What is it Called When the Son of God Becomes Man?

When Jesus took on a bodily human form He essentially became God incarnate, which stems from the Latin verb ‘incarnate’, meaning “to make flesh”.

He was born of a human mother, yet He didn’t lose His deity.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reveal the different aspects of Christ’s fully human and fully divine nature.

On one hand, we have plenty of support for Jesus’ humanity in the form of various typical human needs and emotions recorded in the Four Gospels, such as:

-Aging “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” Luke 2:40

-Hunger “And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” Matthew 4:2; “In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.” Matthew 21:18

-Sleep “and as they sailed he fell asleep.” Luke 8:23a

-Joy “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

-Sorrow “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.” Matthew 26:37

-Righteous Anger “And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Mark 3:5

-However, the Gospels also reveal Jesus’ divine side as He is the Son of God i.e. the second person of the Holy Trinity.

Here are some examples of Jesus’ deity as found in the Scriptures:

Predicting future events. Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple. (Matthew 24:1–2)

Jesus’ eternal existence;

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1–3 

Then: Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

Jesus accepts worship; And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:33

Forgiving sin  “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Matthew 9:6

He was resurrected with a physical body  “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Luke 24:39

-Jesus was just like us, completely human. He was subject to the exact same desires and temptations.

-Yet, Jesus lived a 100% sin-free life as evident by what the author of Hebrews wrote:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

When Jesus took on human form, He simply changed His position, not His divine deity or the fact that He is One with God the Father.

Why was Incarnation Necessary?

The incarnation was necessary so that Christ would become flesh (i.e. human) and pay the ultimate price for our sins by dying on the cross while being completely guiltless and sinless.

From a human perspective, God did the unthinkable.

He sent His only begotten Son (the Son of God, God in the flesh) into the world as the perfect sacrifice because no human being could ever do anything to atone for his or her sins.

Only Christ, paying the debt in full through His crucifixion was able to redeem us and provide salvation by grace through faith.

We are redeemed by Jesus’ blood, the ultimate sacrificial lamb “without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19).

And yet, many people -including Christians- are still puzzled by the fact that Jesus was both fully human and fully God at the same time.

This is something that only the Creator is capable of and we have to keep in mind that we’re not meant to know and understand everything.

Don’t forget that the Lord says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” –Isaiah 55:8

What did Jesus Call Himself in the Bible?

There are several titles Jesus used in the Bible when referring to himself:

1. The Son of Man

As previously mentioned, this title is the embodiment of Christ’s both completely human and completely divine nature.

On one hand, Jesus used it to put an emphasis on His humility as found in Matthew 8:19-20.

But Christ also utilizes this title to highlight His divinity as found in Mark 14:62 when Jesus was accused by members of the Sanhedrin.

The title “son of man” is also used by God in the OT as that’s how He referred to Ezekiel.

However, Ezekiel is “A son of man” and not “The Son of Man”- notice the difference?

2. I Am

This is probably the most obvious title that Jesus used when referring to Himself, which shows us that He is God.

If you open John 8:58

you’ll see that Jesus told the Jews: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”.

Their minds were blown, because how can Jesus be born before Abraham when He wasn’t even 50 years old? Well, because He is God, the Alpha and the Omega.

And to solidify Jesus’ claim to be God by using this title we have to go back to the Old Testament.

In Exodus 3:14 we find the first instance of God revealing one of His names as “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.”

3. The Bread of Life

The 6th chapter of the Gospel of John reveals more of Jesus’ miracles and another title that He adopts.

At the beginning of this chapter, He miraculously feeds thousands and after that:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35

4. The Resurrection and the Life

Jesus is the only way that leads to eternal life, plain and simple.

And what did Christ tell Martha in relation to her deceased brother Lazarus?

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, John 11:25, ESV

5. The Way, The Truth and the Life

When Thomas asked Jesus how they can know the way when He departs, the Lord revealed another title when referring to Himself:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

To put it in modern terms “If you ain’t got the Son, you ain’t got the Father.”

And it’s surprising how many more Bible verses proclaim that Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven.

6. Messiah/Christ

In John 4:25-26 we find that Jesus is the Messiah (He who is called Christ).

5. Lord and Teacher

Jesus says that He is our Lord and Teacher in John 13:14-15.

7. The Good Shepherd

Another title that Jesus uses when referring to Himself is “the Good Shepherd”, found in John 10:14-15. In fact “Good Shepherd” is a special Messianic title of Christ. The Old Testament references to a shepherd in the Psalms (see Psalm 23) depict the Lord as the shepherd.

8. The Light of the World

He is also “the light of the world” (John 8:12). In this statement, Jesus claimed that there is no other source of spiritual truth but him. Spiritual truth is found in him and him alone.

9. The Vine

In John 15:5 Christ refers to Himself as “the True Vine”. In another place, he said “I am the Vine and you are the branches.”

He meant that we need to continually be attached to him, and we will always get our spiritual sustenance from him. Apart from him we can do nothing. But in him we have everything.

10. The Door

Christ is “the door” that whoever enters through will be saved John 10:7, 9. He isn’t just “a” door, but he is “the” door.

Noah’s ark had only one door, and the Lord himself closed it. The temple -and before that the Tabernacle, had only one entrance -one door.

This shows us Christ. He is the only door. The only way to the Father.

11. The Bridegroom

Our Lord and Savior also uses the title ‘bridegroom’ in Matthew 9:15.

He came to join himself to the church so that we can be in union with him for all eternity and enjoy peace, love and togetherness with the One who gave of himself completely and paid the price we could never pay.

Does Jesus Call Himself God?

Indeed, Jesus made it clear that He and God the Father are One.

One of the best examples for this comes from John 10:30 where Christ says ” I and my Father are one.”

Jesus made many Blatant Claims to be God (you can read about it here).

He did it in a way that left absolutely no doubt about what he really meant.

Plenty of mistaken people have said the exact opposite thing on various blogs
– including some very famous publications like this one.

They are wrong about this because they didn’t bother to read the Bible before
writing their posts.

Jesus unmistakably claimed to be God and he backed up his claims by being born
in the right place at the right time, with miracles and signs and wonders and by
dying on the cross and rising again in three days just as he said.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, the title Son of Man that Christ uses when referring to Himself reveals different aspects of His both fully human and fully divine nature.

This title of Jesus represents His humanity, humility, deity and fulfillment of prophecy.

Christ is not only a mere “son of man”, He is THE Son of Man.

And don’t forget the words of Jesus as written by Apostle John in the book of Revelation 1:8

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

He deserves all the worship and glory, forever and ever, amen.

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