Monday, November 23, 2015
Who Is the Son of Man?
Christianity is the world’s largest religion. Reportedly, its adherents number approximately 2.2 billion. Islam is the second largest religion. There are about 1.6 billion Muslims. While 14 million followers of Judaism pale in comparison to the world’s two most popular religions, Judaism continues to be significant because Christianity unfolded from its Holy Scriptures. These three religions worship the same God, the God of Abraham. It is the identity of Jesus Christ wherein lies the disagreement.
Rabbinical Judaism doesn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Instead it awaits a futuristic messiah from the line of David who will restore the nation of Israel to its former glory. Ironically, Islam does recognize Jesus as the Messiah. It also recognizes the Gospel of Jesus, as revealed by Allah. Muslims believe in the virgin birth, the ascension, and the second coming of Jesus. However Islam does not acknowledge the deity of Christ. Muslims believe He is merely a prophet no more important than Abraham, Moses, or Muhammad. A typical Muslim might ask, “Where in the Gospels does Jesus profess to be God?”
Inevitably, Jesus would challenge the authority of Caesar and the Roman Empire, be charged with sedition, and be capitally punished by crucifixion. In order for His earthly ministry to succeed, it was necessary for Him to delay the inevitable by temporarily concealing His divine identity.
Most often Jesus identified Himself as the Son of Man rather than the Son of God. That approach not only concealed His consubstantiality with God the Father but emphasized His human nature. Jesus was the God-man, fully God & fully man. He underwent all the life experiences encountered by man such as temptation, pain, suffering, and death.
The title, Son of Man, also identified Jesus as the Messiah. The Pharisees and the scribes studied the Holy Scriptures of Judaism and were well familiar with Daniel’s Messianic prophecy:
“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. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.”
He would reveal His deity first to His apostles, then to Pharisaic Judaism, and finally to Rome itself:
“Jesus began asking His disciples saying, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’
And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; some say Elijah; and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’
And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but My Father who is in heaven.’”
“Jesus answered, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad.’
The Jews therefore said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.’
Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”
“Jesus answered them, ‘I and the Father are one.’
The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’
The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’”
“Then the whole body arose and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him saying, ‘We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding payment of taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.’
And Pilot asked Him saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’
And He answered him and said, ‘It is as you say. My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’”
There were false messiahs who posed a threat to Roman authority. When they were executed their followers fled and the factions dissolved. However, when Jesus was crucified, His followers grew exponentially.