I am chiming in today with several names of Jesus in an effort to catch up a little bit. These two names for Jesus are often used together and they represent such important meaning and depth about the complex nature of who Jesus is. I love pairing them together because I think in explaining each, they help to only broaden our understanding. There is no one else who bears this distinction and no one else who can claim either name.
As Son of God, Jesus is set apart from all of humanity for all time, because in this name we learn that He is God and He is equal with God. His deity is affirmed and pronounced in this name and his place in the Trinity is also made clear.
The book of John was written with this very idea in mind, to prove the deity of Jesus. John elevates Him as the Son of God from the first verse to the last, and he reminds us that Jesus the Son of God, became the Son of Man to redeem us and reveal the Father's glory to us. I know this is all very theological and hard to wrap our minds around, but I believe strongly that we are to take God at His Word, not trying to explain it in a way that makes us feel better or adding to it so that it's more "logical" or whatever we want it to be. There is faith required to believe and a required trust in God's Word when it comes to things we don't understand.
Jesus himself claimed to be God and while that declaration incited the Jews' hatred of Him, the same thing still happens today.
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him." John 5:19-23
At first glance this passage can seem confusing or overwhelming, but Jesus is painting a picture for us of the intimacy between the Father and the Son. He was standing before them, daring to put Himself on an equal plane with God, which they considered blasphemous and made them furious. The Jews implied he had no right to make that claim, but in this answer Jesus gave, He is showing them that actually He has every right.
He takes great care to compare the Father and the Son:
-What the Father does, the Son does.
-What the Father sees, the Son sees.
-What the Father knows, the Son knows.
He helps us see that He is indeed equal with the Father and they are in fact one. He is God, but this would be only one of many times He had to make this claim because so many doubted Him then, just as they doubt Him today. He did not come after God, because he is not created remember, He is Creator and has always been. (Colossians 1:15-17, John 1)
From this passage in John 5, we see that as the Son of God, he has been given certain jobs to do.
-He will judge all men. Those who have accepted Him as their Savior will not stand in judgement before Him because their sins have already been judged and paid for on the cross, but for those who reject Him, He will cast a final judgement on their soul.
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge, because he is the Son of Man." John 5:24-27
-He has the power to give life, because He is the Son of God. He is life.
-He has the power to raise the dead, because He is the Son of God and He alone has conquered death.
As the Son of God, he is equal in His blamelessness and perfection with the Father. He is the only Righteous one, the sinless and perfect lamb of God. Because of that, He is also the only one who can satisfy the wrath of God towards sin (Heb. 2:17) and meet the requirement for holiness. He paid the required penalty (death-Matt. 5:17) and therefore is the only one who can redeem us. If He was simply a man or a prophet or a good person, none of this could have been accomplished and our salvation in Him would be invalid. But as the Son of God, equal with God, He chose to save us and He is able to save us.
In His great mercy, he is also the Son of Man, capable of standing in our place as a perfect substitute for the human race. The name "Son of Man" is used in the Old Testament by Ezekiel, who referred to himself as a son of man (a "son of Adam" as it is translated) simply referencing his role of a human prophet on a prophetic mission from God. It's also used by Daniel, in another prophetic passage, referring to the vision Daniel had of a coming Messiah.
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14
Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man, more than any other name. We don't know why that was his favorite title, but perhaps it has something to do with the previous ways this title was used. Like Ezekiel, He was also on a mission from God and was the fulfillment of many prophecies. Like the vision from Daniel, Jesus was that Messiah, the promised one who was given all authority, expressing the glory of God and reigning forever in power. Another purpose could be that the name, Son of Man, both reveals and conceals the great mystery of who He was (Colossians 1:24-2:5). He came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it and while the Jews were waiting on an earthly King to conquer and destroy their enemies, God chose to wrap Himself in flesh and come as Savior and King, destroying forever their greater enemies like sin and death and Satan. He clearly stated who He was and why He came, but He looked nothing like what they were expecting. Finally, maybe the most obvious explanation for this name, is that Jesus identifies with us in our humanity by calling himself the Son of Man.
Although He was always fully God, he also became fully man, holding back his Deity to embrace his humanity. It's not that he wasn't God, he was, but he chose to reveal himself in a way that we could see and feel and touch and know. He restrained His power for the sake of his mission, to seek and save the lost. John 1:14 tells us that Jesus Christ became flesh, the Son of God became a man and lived among us. He "made his dwelling among us" by very literally pitching a tent in human flesh. He became one of us. Isn't that amazing??
So the names Son of God and Son of Man really do go hand in hand.
He stood in our place, as the Son of Man.
He sacrificed and paid the penalty for our sin, as the Son of God.
In both cases He didn't have to do what He did and He didn't owe us anything. But He loves us and even while we were still sinners, He chose us. He came, He endured, He sacrificed, and He died unjustly for a crime he didn't commit, so that He could complete the mission given to Him by the Father, saving those who would believe.
It's not easy to explain and it's not easy to understand. But it's exactly what He said He came to do and it answers every need we have. It takes faith, but praise the Lord that's all it takes! We don't pay him back, we don't earn it, we don't perform to keep it, and we don't add to it. It is the freest gift of all time, and there is nothing cheap about it. Salvation wasn't cheap to the Father and it wasn't cheap to the Son. A real price was paid, real blood was shed, and a real exchange is made when we accept it and believe.
The Son of God became the Son of Man.
And because of that, He did what Adam (humanity) could not do.
Instead of questions to think about, I want to leave you with a beautiful list from a message our Senior Pastor preached on Matthew 4:1-11. I think it captures beautifully why it's important that Jesus is both the Son of God and became the Son of Man. It compares the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 with the sin of Adam in Genesis 3. Maybe one of the greatest scenes where we see Jesus' deity and his humanity in tandem and we realize how much greater He is, the answer to what we truly need.
-We see how it all went south in Gen. 3 -We see how Jesus got the victory in Matt. 4
-Adam failed -Jesus prevailed
-Adam sinned -Jesus was sinless
-Adam brought death -Jesus defeated death
-Adam unleashed destruction -Jesus unleashed redemption
-Adam was under the curse -Jesus reversed the curse
-Sin entered through Adam -Salvation entered through Jesus
-Adam experienced death through sin -Jesus crushed sin, death and Hell
-Adam was in paradise with a full stomach -Jesus was in the desert with a shrunken stomach
-Adam had a wife and was overcome -Jesus was alone and overcame
What Adam couldn't do, Jesus did!! We worship and adore Jesus because He is the Only One who does what we cannot do for ourselves and He does it as both the Son of God and the Son of Man.
With My Kids...
This is not an easy concept to try and explain to little minds, but I think there is great value in simply stating truth to them, even if they don't understand. Jesus is the Son of God and He became human like us. He understands what it's like to be little, like them. He knows what it's like to grow up and we can look to Him to be our example. Making Jesus personal to our kids is sweet. It's important too. Helping them see that He cares about every aspect of our lives, from our earliest days to our last, helps them know his care and his love. He welcomed the little children and we can and should help our kids learn to come to Him uninhibited. Today I'm pulling out the Children's Bibles that we have, to re-read with our kiddos the account of the incarnation. Jesus wrapped in flesh, a king who came dressed as a baby, hidden and concealed only from those who wouldn't believe Him. I pray that they will choose to believe Jesus and His Word above all, for all of their days!
Happy Tuesday, friends!