“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.” (Daniel 7:13)
Jesus is not only called Son of God in the Bible, but also Son of Man. This is Jesus’ favorite title for himself, used in the gospels over 80 times. What does it mean, and how does it help us to worship Jesus more fully this Christmas?
When someone is called a Son of Man, the first thing one would think of would be a person who is a human being, a son. That would be true of Jesus. The vision in Daniel is of a person, but a different kind of person. But he is a person who comes in power and defeats the enemies of God. He is like a Son of Man, but so much more.
Jesus takes this title upon himself, identifying himself in this way numerous times. “But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven’” (Mark 14:61–62). Jesus identifies himself as the Lord (Ps. 110), coming in power to defeat God’s enemies.
Again, though, this title of power also carries with it the concept of servanthood and suffering. “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things…” (Mark 8:31). He taught his disciples, on his way to the cross, what the Son of Man was to be like. He would suffer, and eventually die, to ransom people from their sins. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Finally, though, the Son of Man will come again to judge and reign: “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). The final defeat of sin and death and Satan is still to come, but our Son of Man will accomplish it and triumph, just as he has done in the past.
The title Son of Man should be an encouraging reminder to us of his triumphant power, his servanthood and suffering, and his final reign. This man, this baby in a manger, is so much more than a man. Rejoice in the Son of Man today!