Learn by Topic: Son of Man
The Fall of the Sons of Man
God created Man in His image and likeness, giving Man dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:27). The first man Adam (Hebrew for “man”) disobeyed God and fell into Original Sin (Gen 3). Cast out from Eden, Adam became a father of Cain, and then, Abel. Abel, a shepherd, pleased God with an offering from his flock, while Cain’s offering “from the ground” did not please God. Fallen and disfigured by Original Sin, Cain, the very first son of man (Adam), killed his brother Abel (Gen 4). Like the first Man Adam, the first son Cain displeases and rebels against God. Fallen in Original Sin, all generations of sons struggle in persistent sin.
The Loss of Sonship and Manhood
By turning away from God the Father and Jesus the Son, Post-modern Man has lost the meaning of being a son and being a man. Postmodern sons, many raised without fathers, fail to learn “sonship”: respect for elders, obedience, loyalty, humility, discipline and how to be fathers. Many of today’s men avoid fatherhood (contraception, abortion) or reject the responsibilities of being a father (siring children out of wedlock, abandoning or neglecting their children and the mothers of their children). Postmodern sons are failing in manhood: the rejection of chivalry and disrespect of women, indulgence of compulsive desires (food, drink, pornography), equating manhood to the siring of many children out of wedlock, the strutting of hyper-masculinity, the sloth of perennial adolescence, or embracing dependency or the effeminate. The failed post-modern culture cannot be salvaged without a return to virtuous sonship and manhood.
Jesus Christ – The Son of Man
Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, demonstrates perfection of sonship and manhood. Jesus:
- Draws on Old Testament references to the “Son of Man” – The phrase “son of man” appears over 100 times in the Old Testament, most often as a human being or mortal man (Num 23:19; Job 25:6; Psalm 8:4; Sir 17:30) or to describe individual men including Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:1, 3) and Daniel (Daniel 8:17). The “son of man” is used to describe a supernatural man: Daniel has a vision of the “Ancient of Days” (God) who welcomes a glorious figure “like the Son of Man” into God’s heavenly presence. The Son of Man is hailed as worthy and God condemns the rulers of the earth, giving everlasting dominion to the Son of Man to defeat God’s enemies and rule over all nations (Dan 7).
- Calls Himself the “Son of Man” – The “Son of Man” is the most frequent title for Jesus Christ in the New Testament: it is found over 73 times in the Gospels (60 times in the Synopics/13 times in John), in Acts (7:56) and Revelation (1:13; 14:14); St. Paul does not use the title “Son of Man” for Jesus. Jesus is the only one in the Gospels who uses the title “Son of Man” and He exclusively applies it to Himself. Jesus prefers the title “Son of Man”: several occasions when He is identified as the “Christ” (Mark 8:29–30, 14:61–62, 13:21–22), Jesus responds by speaking of what the “Son of Man” will do.
- Occasionally uses the “Son of Man” to describe His humanness – Jesus uses the title “Son of Man” to show He possessed a human body (John 6:53) and has the capacity for human activities like resting (Matthew 8:20), eating and drinking (Luke 7:34), suffering (Mark 8:31), and that His body will be placed in the grave (Matthew 12:40).
- Predominately uses the “Son of Man” to assert His Divine Mission – Jesus had encyclopedic knowledge of the Old Testament (He wrote it after all) and clearly means to reveal that He is the Divine “Son of Man”, predicted in Daniel (Dan 7). Jesus:
- Teaches that He is the Divine Son of Man – Jesus echoes Daniel’s description of the “Son of Man”, referring to Himself (Matthew 19:28, 24:30, 25:31) as the one who will be raised up by the Father to sit on a royal throne at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1) and come on the clouds of Heaven (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62). He emphasizes His preexistence of the Son of Man (John 3:13) and is attended by angels (John 1:51). In Him, people must put their faith (John 9:35). While Christ’s assertion of Divinity is clear in Greek, In the Aramaic language, the expression “Son of Man” (ben-adam) had come to mean simply “man” (bar-ethas), allowing Jesus to veil messianic significance in his prophetic preaching..
- Asserts His authority and power as the Son of Man – As the Son of Man, Jesus claims the authority of God the Father (John 8:28). He asserts the ability and authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10), teach (Matthew 13:37), heal (John 9:35), suspend the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), judge men for their deeds (John 5:27) and even grant life (John 6: 27). The Angel Gabriel, in the Annunciation to Mary says, “He shall reign forever… And His kingdom shall have no end” (Luke 1:33), referring back to Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man (Daniel 7:18–27) and the eternal nature of the dominion of Christ.
- Proclaims His Divine mission of Salvation – The Son of Man’s mission is to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and He serves to give His life for many (Matthew 20:28, 26:2, 26:24, 26:45; Mark 8:31, 9:12, 10:45, 14:21, 14:41; Luke 9:22, 22:22, 22:48, 24:7).
- Uses His role as Son of Man in prophecy – Jesus reveals that the Son of Man will be betrayed, arrested, be condemned by elders and chief priests, be killed and rise again after 3 days (Mark 8:31, 9:9, 9:12, 9:31, 10:33, 10:45, 14:21) and will return (Luke 17:22, 18:8, 21:36).
- Refers to the Son of Man to warn of the coming Judgment – Jesus offers a somber warning for those who are not prepared for the future coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:27, 24:37, 24:39, 24:44). He warns that He will judge all people (John 5:27) and those who reject the Son of Man will be rejected at the Judgment (Mark 8:38; Matthew 16:27).
- Emphasizes the Son of Man in the Eucharist – Jesus asserts the life-saving nature of eating the flesh of the Son of Man (Bread of Life – John 6:27, 53; Last Supper: Matt 26:17-30).
- Strengthens disciples in the face of persecution – He prepares the disciples that they will suffer for the Son of Man (Luke 6:22).
- The Church affirms that Jesus Christ rules as the Son of Man – Today, Jesus rules over all the world through His Church (Mark 16:19; Acts 7:56; Rev 14:14–16; CCC 440, 661).
Is the Perfect Son and Perfect Man – Jesus is the Perfect Son (CCC 536, 564) and the Perfect Man (CCC 381, 482); all men are called to imitate Him (CCC 1694).