In many of His discourses, Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of man”. This Messianic title reflects His humanity, His earthly mission and His future eternal glory (Dan. 7: 13-14 cf. Jn: 1: 51). Our Lord Jesus came not only to serve but to save lost sinners: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20: 28).
In our article last week, we learnt that the Lord Jesus Christ used the term – the “Son of man” – to reflect His humanity. As a man, Jesus partook fully of human nature. He had frailties common to every man. Jesus’ physical body was subjected to the infirmities of the flesh like tiredness, thirst and hunger. What other lessons can we learn from our Lord in the way He addressed Himself as the “Son of man”?
o Christ’s deity
We must bear in mind that, though Christ came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8: 3), He did not lay down His divinity. Jesus was fully God and fully man: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1: 14).
It is noteworthy that the term, “Son of man” in some Gospel passages, is used to highlight Christ’s deity. One example is found in the Gospel of Mark which shows the power of the “Son of man” to forgive sins. When Jesus healed a man “sick of the palsy”, the scribes murmured in their hearts: “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy)” (Mk. 2: 6-10).
In another passage, Christ affirmed His deity when He foretold of His return in the clouds of glory to reign on earth: “And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26: 63-64). Here, Jesus was citing Daniel’s vision when “one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven”. To Him was given dominion over the kingdoms of the earth: “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7: 13-14).
o Christ’s humility
Although He is God, Christ, the Son of man, not only took upon Himself the likeness and fashion of a man, but also “the form of a servant”: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philp. 2: 6-8). In this passage, we see both the divine and human natures of Christ – “the form of God” and “the form of a servant”. This means that Christ put aside His divine honour and glory in order to assume human nature. The phrase, “he humbled Himself” has the idea of a voluntary condescension to the lowly level of sinful humanity. As the “Son of man”, our Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself even to the extent of dying a criminal’s death on the cross.
“His whole life was a life of humiliation, meanness, poverty, and disgrace; he had nowhere to lay his head, lived upon alms, was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, did not appear with external pomp, or any marks of distinction from other men. This was the humiliation of his life. But the lowest step of his humiliation was his dying the death of the cross. He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross” (Matthew Henry).
We thank God for our loving and humble Saviour. Jesus was fully God and fully man. But He laid aside His divinity and humbled Himself to be like one of us. “May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross” (C H Spurgeon).
As we look at our Lord’s example of humility, let us put away all sinful pride from our lives. Remember that it is by God’s grace that we are saved. May we be thankful for His condescending grace that has redeemed us from eternal wrath and damnation (Eph. 2: 8-9). Let us respond by loving our Saviour because He first loved us (I Jn. 4: 9). Amen.