Elizabeth, Queen of England. She represented the aspirations, hopes and dreams of her nation. What insight does this give us in knowing how the Son of Man represents Israel?
Jesus’ self-designated title of Son of Man is a mystery to many. What does Son of Man “represent”?
One of my favorite movies is Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett. What strikes me about the Virgin Queen was that she truly personified England as the up and coming European empire in the 16th century. As she matured over her long forty-four year reign, England grew along with her to become a decisive world power. Elizabeth never simply spoke nor acted on her own. She represented England as a nation. She was not just a queen. She was England.
To “represent” some entity has an interesting etymology. It is derived from a Latin phrase meaning “to present”, or “to symbolize, to be the embodiment of”.
Earlier on Veracity, we explored how Jesus as God’s “Son” lives out the same type of life that the nation of Israel was originally supposed to do as God’s “son” in the Old Testament. Israel was disobedient, but Jesus obediently fulfills what God intended Israel to do. Jesus somehow embodies all of what the nation of Israel is meant to be. How do we clarify what it means to say that Jesus represented Israel?
The Ancient of Days. 1794. Watercolor by William Blake. Based on the “like a son of man” passage in Daniel 7. In the Old Testament, Daniel is the master of apocalyptic imagery, which means using words as pictures to “reveal” or “uncover” that which is hidden.
Jesus talks about being the “Son of Man” eighty-one times in the New Testament. The term is Jesus’ favorite designation for Himself in the Gospels. So, what is the deal with this “Son of Man” stuff anyway?
“Son of Man = Messiah = Divinity of Christ“. For years, I merely assumed this to be true, simply out of reflex of being a Christian. But if it is true, why is it true? I never really thought about it that much. Recently, our small group Bible study has been looking at the Gospel of Luke, and every now and then there are puzzled looks whenever Jesus speaks of this Son of Man. As I observe everyone scrambling to read their study bible notes, I know that I am not alone in my why question.
A number of critics complain that Christians read way, way too much into this phrase. The Son of Man as the Messiah? Mmmm. How so? Furthermore, the Bible never explicitly equates Son of Man with “divinity”. Are followers of Jesus getting ahead of the Bible when asserting the messianic, divine meaning of Son of Man? Can a believer in Christ reasonably defend such a claim?