The favorite title Jesus used for Himself was “Son of Man”. You will find this phrase almost ninety times in the gospels. I’m sure there are several reasons why Jesus chose to use this phrase over others, however, there are two that we can be sure of.
First, this title was a direct nod to the prophecy of Daniel, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
This is obviously important as this is Jesus connecting Himself to a prophecy concerning the Messiah. This may seem obscure to us sitting here in the 21st century- but the Jews of Jesus’ day would be very familiar with the prophecy. Jesus never attempted to hide who He was- and His Jewish audience would easily understand the correlation.
To negate that Jesus was the Messiah is to reject His own claims to be so. He may have not shouted from the rooftops that He was the Messiah, but He certainly made claims for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear.
However, it’s the second aspect of this phrase that intrigues me. The phrase Son of Man obviously carries with it the picture of humanity. It was no mistake that He chose to use this phrase far more than Son of God (used less than half the number of times in the gospels); He was choosing to identify Himself with those He came to save.
Jesus was and is utterly unique- no God imagined in the minds of men would care enough for humanity to live among them- much less to become one of them (John 1:14- “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”). However, Jesus willingly emptied Himself of the glory He had in eternity past to live, become, and identify as one of us. as it says in Philippians 2:5-7, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”.
Jesus’ humanity was not only necessary with regards to our salvation (if He wasn’t human, He couldn’t die) but it was also an incredible gift to us for His current ministry. Jesus is described as our high priest, which the book of Hebrews speaks a great deal about. In one of those passages it says, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” (Hebrews 4:14)
A high priest was a representative of the people, therefore, the more the high priest knows the people the better job he can do. Jesus didn’t come to just be a good high priest but a perfect high priest. One of my favorite passages is the next two verses in Hebrews, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Jesus’ humanity makes Him a perfect high priest because He can sympathize with our problems. He knows, personally and experientially, what it means to be human. With all the emotions, thoughts, and feelings that you and I have- all without sin.
Because He was the Son of Man, He can be our perfect high priest. A high priest that we are told to come to for grace and mercy. But notice, we are not to just come, but we are to boldly come. We have no need to worry or wonder if this high priest can encourage and comfort because He’s been the Son of Man- He knows your pain.