“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
More than any other title, Jesus referred to himself most as the “Son of Man.” This title is hardly ever used elsewhere in the Bible outside of the Gospels.
We can understand it to mean that Jesus was reminding his disciples that he was, in fact, a man. He had all of the same human frailties and tendencies that they had themselves. He got hungry, thirsty, hot, and cold. He experienced pain and exhaustion. He knew firsthand the love of a human family and the grief of human loss. He was “in all points tempted the same as we are, yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
This phrase in Aramaic (bar enash) would have sounded to his hearers like a simple idiom for “a man like me.”
But the name means much more than that
To start with, Jesus uses “Son of Man” in ways that stretch far beyond mere humanness.
Several times, Jesus states that, as “Son of Man,” he will sit on a heavenly throne, come with the clouds, receive glory and power, and be surrounded by angels (Matthew 24:30; 25:31; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; 22:69). This is definitely not normal for a man!
A devout Jew of the day might have been reminded of what the prophet Daniel wrote of his vision of heaven (Daniel 7:13–14). The Ancient of Days takes his throne of judgment, and “with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man . . . and to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom.”
By applying the seemingly innocent title to himself Jesus unveiled an astonishing claim, that he is that Son of Man. Daniel’s vision is not about a man of simple flesh and blood, but it can't be overlooked that it is undeniably about a man.
In this vision, Daniel glimpses the preincarnate Son in the throne room — just as Isaiah saw Jesus’s glory (John 12:37–41; Isaiah 6:1–10), and Ezekiel saw a “man” enthroned in the highest heaven (Ezekiel 1:26–28).
Many times, Jesus invoked his identity as “Son of Man” to claim authority on earth that no mere man could claim, such as the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:5–12) and lordship over the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). Jesus was claiming divine prerogatives that only God possesses.
When he predicted how, as “Son of Man,” he would suffer and die for sins (Mark 9:31), Jesus was making it clear that he was the Isaianic “servant” who would vicariously suffer for the sins of the people (Isaiah 52:13–53:12).
After His ascension, Stephen, the first martyr, declared that he saw Jesus enthroned as Son of Man at the right hand of the Father on high (Acts 7:56; cf. Revelation 1:12–16)
When Jesus returns from heaven it will be as the Son of Man, the divine judge and eternal king (Matthew 19:28–30).
The message is staggering.
In Christ, God did not simply “visit” humanity and then go back to being wholly God. Jesus became a man – for all eternity.
When he chose to take the form of an infant in Bethlehem it forever changed the face of God. For all the ages of eternity to come, there is and always will be a man on the throne of Heaven!
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
What an incredible truth this is!
The eternal Judge and Ruler of the Heavens, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our High Priest – our Advocate with the Father. He is our kindred… our brother.
As He has been to us until now, so He will be for all of eternity -- Jesus, (bar enash) “a man like me” -- our closest and dearest friend.
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart
Charitie Lees Bancroft
Written by a pastor's daughter in Ireland, 1863
Parts of this post are adapted from the post: Jesus’s Favorite Title for Jesus, by Greg Lanier