Christians have a lot of names or titles for our Savior (which is of course one of my favorites). His name was Jesus, which means “God saves” or “God to the rescue,” but his titles are many. He’s called the Lord, the Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, Lamb of God, and Christ (or Messiah) among many others. He obviously accepted these titles. But if you didn’t know already, you might be surprised to learn what Jesus’ favorite self-designation was.
What did he call himself while he was on earth? Well, for some reason he called himself the “Son of Man.” In fact, often he refers to the “Son of Man” in the third person, and if you were reading the Gospels for the first time you might wonder who this guy is who Jesus is talking about. Then you realize, “Oh wait, he’s referring to himself. . .”
Why did he do this? There are two explanations, and but since Jesus never explained himself, I wouldn’t be dogmatic about either of them. The first that I’ve heard is that this is his identification with humanity. He certainly did that. The first chapter of Matthew has a list of names in his human ancestry, and there are quite a few characters on that list of whom I’d be ashamed to associate myself. But he squeezed himself down into a human body and took up our nature and experience to the fullest (minus sin). And then he associated himself with our sin (in a sense) when he took our sin upon himself on the cross. So there’s no aspect of our existence with which he’s not intimately acquainted.
So maybe that’s why he used the term to refer to himself. The phrase is pretty generic and actually means “human being.” The Lord called Ezekiel that several times, and there was no Messianic undercurrent when that happened.
But there’s another explanation, and it’s just as valid, if not slightly more. Jesus couldn’t call himself the Messiah, nor did he encourage others (most of the time) to call him that, simply because the word had political implications which would mislead people as to his mission. He didn’t come to set up a political kingdom on earth (not this time, anyway); he came to redeem us and claim the spiritual kingdom that his Father would give him.
But by calling himself the Son of Man, it’s pretty likely he was identifying himself with the “son of man” described in today’s passage, and that is the Messiah. This Son of Man comes into the Almighty’s throne room, approaches the Lord God, and receives from him “authority, glory and sovereign power” and the worship of the nations. Not for a brief spell like every other ruler who’s ever lived: His kingdom is an eternal one that shall never end. This is undoubtedly in stark contrast to the monotonous string of kingdoms in chapter two (which we examined yesterday). The Almighty Father has a “right-hand man” in whom he vests all authority.
You ever hear the term “flash in the pan”? That’s the perfect description of every earthly kingdom. But not this one. He set up a spiritual kingdom over every kingdom on earth and over every authority in the spiritual realm. And one day he’ll return to complete the process of world conquest.
Why is this important to us? Well, I have nothing really new to tell you. Just a reminder that in the context of this passage, it’s easy to forget that the Enemy’s kingdom has only a short number of days, and not a second longer than has been given to him by our Father. And when the time is right, the “Son of Man” will claim his kingdom for all to see. Are you ready for that? Really?
Lord Jesus, I know that you rule over the heavens and over authority and over everything seen and unseen. But there are some pockets of rebellion—within me. Please put them under siege, and be ruthless.
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