From John Piper-
He was a son of man, that is, a human being. And he is the Son of God, in that he has always existed as the Eternally Begotten One who comes forth from the Father forever. He always has, and he always will. He is the Second Person of the Trinity with all of the divine nature fully in him.
He is born of a virgin. He had a human father but he didn’t have sex with this virgin until Jesus was conceived. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary. Thus he is human—fully human. The Bible wants to emphasize that he is fully human.
So that’s the common understanding: he is both divine and he is human—two natures, one person.
The more sophisticated and important historical insight is that the term “Son of Man” doesn’t merely align him with humanity. It is probably taken from Daniel 7. And if you read that chapter you’ll see that the Son of Man is a very exalted figure: not just a human figure but an exalted figure. It was Jesus’ favorite self-designation.
If you do a study of the term “Son of Man” in the Gospels you’ll see that he didn’t refer to himself most often as Son of God but as Son of Man. He said things like, in Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” So he calls himself Son of Man very often.
I think the reason he did so is because, on the face of it, Son of Man is an ordinary phrase for “human being.” He was born of a man. And there’s no offense there: who isn’t a son of man? But those with ears to hear could hear Daniel 7, in which he was claiming a very exalted role in the history of redemption. And he meant to do it.
Jesus was very subtle in that he was always opening his identity to those with eyes to see, but he wasn’t opening it so blatantly that everybody would come and make him king. He had to steer a very narrow course in disclosing his identity, not just openly saying, “I’m the Messiah, I’m the King of the World. Come and acknowledge me as King.” He didn’t talk like that.
He was quiet. He was subtle. And he would make claims that were explicit in certain settings and implicit in others. And only when the time was right—mainly when he was on trial for his life, and they said, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the living God?”—did he say, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man coming with great power and glory.” So he confessed his open deity right at the point where he knew he would be crucified for it.
I was driving to work yesterday when I had the question pop into my head: “Why did Jesus call himself that”?
As I looked up some of the meanings interpreted by various people online, I was drawn to Mr. Piper’s description. I respect his knowledge and he has definitely taught me a lot over the years. His few words confirmed many of the things that were going through my mind yesterday.
Jesus: a man who claimed to be God. First and foremost, that is where I started within my thinking yesterday. I had to start with the simple fact of the Jesus being a person, just like you and I. He walked, talked, ate, slept and did all of those things that deem us as human. But, unlike you and I, he claimed to be God. God, in flesh.
It took me a very long time to accept the facts of Jesus:
- Fully human while fully God
- Able to perform miracles
- Never giving into temptation
- A living sacrifice for us, sinners
The many things that I began to learn about as the Bible became a part of my life were often very confusing and very intrusive. Is was as though my very core was being shaken by the things that I would read about this man. A man whom I could not compare myself to, in so many ways. A man whom I was skeptical of, to say the least.
Mr. Piper is probably on the correct path by referring to Daniel 7. That is for each of us to determine for ourselves as Spirit leads. But, for me, I had a simple understanding of the meaning of “Son of Man” as I was pondering yesterday.
Jesus was showing the Jews His deity, as well as the Gentile. He was claiming the position as the Son of God while also claiming to be the great, “I Am.” He was doing everything: healing, speaking in parables, foretelling what was to come, pointing to Himself as the fulfillment and messiah. He was showing everyone just how much He relates to the human condition and nature. He knew things that no man could possibly know.
He was the Word dwelling among the people. Relating to the people. Being one with the people. Being one with God. We are one with Him, through Him. Through Him, we are one with God. We are part of God, through Christ Jesus. He made way for us by sacrificing everything that we couldn’t, and wouldn’t, in order for us to be unified with our divine and perfect Creator. That is what I gathered. This is how I personally understand the meaning of, “Son of Man”.
He was driving home, by calling Himself this, the fact that He fully knows us. He relates to us. He understands us. He died to seal our places with Him in the eternal. He called Himself “man” to show us that He definitely sees who we are and what we struggle with, even though He is God.
Powerful!!! Praise Jesus!!!!
I thought I would share my personal thoughts and express my personal gratitude for our loving and generous God this morning. I’ve tried my best to express though words just how powerful my personal experience was as I understood His definition of being One with God, and how we are one with God, through Jesus Christ. As I commuted to work, it was a great and comforting personal revelation for me, knowing that the Son Of Man, “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many“.