Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 9, 2007
Why is jesus called the Son of Man?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
The Son of Man will be the supreme judge, destroy the wicked and rule over all.
This shift is evident in the Book of Enoch, written closer to the time of Christ, where the Son of Man is a heavenly individual. He is named by God before creation: his destiny is to support the just and to be a light to the Gentiles.
He is God's chosen one, filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding. Enoch seems to bring in traces of Isaiah's description (42:1) of the servant of Yahweh who is chosen by God and receives God's spirit. The Son of Man will be the supreme judge, destroy the wicked and rule over all. The just will be saved and will enjoy a celestial banquet with the Son of Man.
Jesus using this title for himself, but no one else applies it to Jesus, except once in Acts (7:56). In the Gospels, it appears 14 times in Mark, 30 times in Matthew, 25 times in Luke, 13 times in John. That makes an impressive 86 occurrences in the NT.
It is hard to say exactly why Jesus used it so frequently but it can point to three different, but connected, meanings.
It refers, first, to Jesus' lowliness of life in his earthly activity in Mark 2:10,28; 10:45 and in Matthew 13:37, as well as some parallel texts in Luke 7:34; 9:58; 11:30; 12:10; 19:9; 22:48.
Secondly, it describes Jesus' passion and death when he teaches his disciples in Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33 with parallels in the other Gospels and Mark 9:9; 10:45; 14:2.
Thirdly, it shows his glorious coming at the end of time in Mark 8:38; 13:26; 14:62 and in Matthew 10:23; 13:41; 19:28; 24:39; 25:31, as well as Luke 12:40; 17:22-30; 18:8; 21:36.
Some scholars believe that Jesus used the title referring only to the future Son of Man, that is, in the third sense and then it was extended to first and second sense.
In its liturgy, the Church continues to make a connection between these texts. On the last Sunday of the Church year, we are given the reading of Daniel's visions: "I saw one like the son of a man coming on the clouds of heaven" (Daniel 10:13).
Then on the first Sunday of Advent we hear, "They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and glory" (Luke 21:27) at the end of time. We continue to encounter this phrase in other Sunday Gospel readings.
Son of God is used about 100 times in the New Testament, even by the devil in Mark 5:7. Both titles: Son of Man and Son of God are important and have essentially the same meaning.
Therefore, knowing its significance for the Jews, Jesus uses Son of Man not as a lesser title for himself, but as a powerful and clear message about who he is as Son of God.
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