If you don’t know the Old Testament like those ancient Jews did, you won’t understand…
Why did Jesus call himself “The Son of Man”? I suspect two reasons. One was the political tension and crucifixions that drove their messiah craze. Everyone wanted their Messiah to lead a battle against the Romans, and the Romans expected a “messiah” to do that. The other reason was this title met Christ’s purposes the best.
If you don’t know the Old Testament like those ancient Jews did, you won’t understand what Jesus conveyed with this title. Daniel 7:13-14 gives this well-known meaning:
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
It could be received in 2-3 ways, much like Christ’s parables.
To add some perspective, however, Wikipedia also says “The Son of Man” was used
107 times in the Hebrew Bible, the majority (93 times) in the Book of Ezekiel. It is used in 3 main ways: as a form of address (Ezekiel); to contrast the lowly status of humanity against the permanence and exalted dignity of God and the angels (Numbers 23:19, Psalm 8:4); and as a future eschatological figure whose coming will signal the end of history and the time of God’s judgement (Daniel 8:17).
This title could be received in 2-3 ways, much like Christ’s parables. When they were alone, Jesus “…answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’” (Matthew 13:11). He gave them a way out if they didn’t want to believe he was the Messiah, but he also gave them a way in. Christ just ensured they’d not readily assume their Messiah would lead a rebellion.
Isn’t that the way the Holy Spirit works, as well? If we harden ourselves against the truth, it’s easy to believe lies. If we cling to truth, it’s easier to identify even the half-truths that commonly mislead us.
In effect, Jesus used a title with a lot more potential to accurately describe him than “Messiah” had at that time. “Son of Man” undeniably made him either a crazy person or God himself. Together with his miracles, he left no doubt for those who wanted the truth.
Do you want a way in or a way out?
The above picture was obtained from this website.