Son of Man

Saint John sleeps. In a vision he sees a man walking among seven lamp stands.
Revelation of Saint John the Divine by Thomas Bathas

40 Names of Jesus in 40 days of Lent — Day 31

 And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.”

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Ezekiel 2:1 Luke 19:10

The term ‘Son of man’ comes repeatedly in the book of the prophet Ezekiel, as God’s name for the prophet. This confused me for a long time, as I was taught that the Son of Man was the name of Jesus and was an equivalent to Son of God. My problem was that I was approaching it from the wrong direction, New Testament first, then going back into the Old Testament. But it works the other way. When Jesus used Son of Man as his own title it was to a people who would have been familiar with Ezekiel. We are supposed to read what we know about Ezekiel forwards to Jesus.

In Ezekiel the term son of man is in Hebrew ben-‘adam, son of Adam. This usage was used by C S Lewis for the Pevensie children, son of Adam or daughter of Eve in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Jesus used it of himself in the same way, Son of Man shows that he is a descendant of Adam, far from being about Jesus’ divinity it focuses on his humanity. He became human to save humans. But he was not calling himself a son of man, but the Son of man. This brings us from Ezekiel to that other prophet of the Babylonian exile, Daniel:

13 “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

The Son of Man is the one who will be given dominion over all of creation. Jesus still has his humanity, and as a human, he will rule the universe.

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