Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Son of Man (Mark 2:1-12)

"But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.…” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home” (Mark 2:10–11).

Today I interrupt the blog's series in Hebrews to focus our attention a bit more fully on Jesus, our Apostle and High Priest. We begin with a study of the phrase “Son of Man.” We find this expression 81 times in the Gospels. Every time it is used by Jesus to refer to Himself. From a statistical point of view, this phrase was His favorite self-designation.

In a sense, the obvious meaning of the phrase “Son of Man” is “Second Adam,” the seed of the woman who was prophesied to come into the world and defeat the devil. As we read the Old Testament, however, we begin to see further dimensions of this phrase. God calls the prophet Ezekiel “son of man” 93 times. Ezekiel was anointed by God at the river Chebar to be a kind of high priest in exile. He prophesied Jerusalem’s destruction and the coming of a new Jerusalem. There are many parallels between Ezekiel and Jesus.

But further, in Daniel 7, Daniel saw someone “like” a son of man ascending to the Father to receive a kingdom. This someone was like Ezekiel (for in that historical context, Daniel’s initial readers would have thought of Ezekiel first) but also more than any earthly prophet or high priest. In Daniel 7, the One who is like a son of man represents all the saints of God who receive the kingdom, but He Himself seems to be more than a mere man.

When Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, He seems at some points to be alluding back to Ezekiel and the Exile, as when He says that the Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). Often, though, He refers to Daniel 7, where the Son of Man comes to the Father on the clouds of heaven to receive the kingdom—something that happened at Jesus’ ascension.

That the Son of Man is more than a mere man is seen in passages like Mark 2:10, where the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins, and the power to heal miraculously—things only God possesses; and Luke 19:10, where the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost—again something only God can do. Thus, when the title “Son of Man” is applied to Jesus, it points beyond His humanity to His deity.

Another dimension of the term “son of man” is seen in Ezekiel, where Ezekiel, as a son of man, does exactly and precisely what God tells him to do. That was true of Jesus also, of course. If we are united to the Son of Man, it needs to be true of us as well. Consider the extent of your obedience.