Son of Man: More than a Human

“And behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.”

(Daniel 7:13, NASB)

Jesus’s favorite way to refer to Himself during His ministry was to use the title “Son of Man.” Many think this is a title that points to Jesus’s humanity. That is only half right. “Son of Man” does mean son of a person, like son of James or son of Janet, which connects someone to someone else. But Jesus’s connection to “Son of Man” is not like other such phrases. Part of this is hinted at in the peculiar ways the Gospel of Luke refers to this phrase as the Son of Man in the original Greek. It points to a unique figure. When Jesus tied the title to Scripture, He cited Daniel 7:13–14. In Daniel, the Son of Man rides the clouds to see the Ancient of Days (a picture of God). He goes there to receive judgment authority.

In Scripture, the only other figure to ride the clouds is God. Deuteronomy 33:26 reads, “There is no one like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the sky to help you, on the clouds in majesty” (NET). Psalm 68:4 says, “Sing to God! Sing praises to his name! Exalt the one who rides on the clouds! For the LORD is his name! Rejoice before him!” Psalm 104:3 says God “makes the clouds his chariot.” Isaiah 19:1 speaks of God riding “on a swift-moving cloud” to deal with Egypt. The picture of the Shekinah cloud of presence may be related to this idea (Exodus 14:20; 34:5; Numbers 10:34). The image is of one present over the creation, an image of deity, even active deity.

So when Jesus uses the title Son of Man, He points to His humanity and especially to His divinity, all in one package. He affirms His uniqueness. There is no one else who combines humanity and divinity as He does. At Christmas, when we focus on the baby Jesus, it is good to recall that God took on flesh. That baby is the unique Son of Man.