Jesus — Son of God Son of Man
John records in his epistle the first meeting of Jesus and Nathaniel. Responding to Jesus, Nathaniel exclaimed, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus, confirmed this and added that he was also the Son of Man. But what do these phrases mean? And how did the disciples and the religious leaders of Jesus’ time understand them? These names are at the heart of Jesus’ mission and his relationship with the Father. Jesus told his disciples that he came to give eternal life to those who would see his glory when he returned. But Jesus also knew that many would not accept the authority that the Father had given him, as Son of God Son of Man. Do you?
The Father’s Seal of Approval
Why was Jesus able to give the gift of everlasting life? It was because the Father had set his seal on Jesus. The seal was that symbol of legitimacy validating Jesus’ as the Messiah. Jesus was the one who was authorized to speak for the Father and his message was authentic. Only Jesus, had been with the Father, so only he could speak on the Father’s behalf. Only Jesus had ascended into heaven. The disciples were present when Jesus was caught up into the clouds and returned to heaven. The angels that witnessed this great event, affirmed that Jesus would return in the same way, riding on the clouds.
The Son of Man and the Ancient of Days
The Jews of Jesus’ day would have fully understood the connection between Christ’s ascension in the clouds and Daniel’s scroll. Daniel envisioned the Son of Man riding the clouds and going to heaven to be face-to-face with the Ancient of Days. But Jesus was not the Messiah that the Jews were hoping for, or wanted. The religious leaders had tried unsuccessfully to undermine Jesus’ ministry by finding credible witnesses with evidence against Jesus. But finally, in frustration, the high priest had asked Jesus to swear an oath as to whether he was indeed the Son of God Son of Man, the Messiah. Jesus’ response was indirect, but vivid. “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The Jews could not mistake Jesus’ intention in alluding to Daniel’s vision. Their response was to accuse Jesus of blasphemy and condemn him to death.
John’s Vision of God in the Psalms & Hebrews
The writer of Hebrews, like John, declared that Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man was the Father’s spokesman. He was the one who made the cycles of time and space and the heavens and the earth. Jesus, the Son of God, was the image of the Father, and was seated at the right had of the Majesty on High — the Ancient of Days.
Jesus’ throne would be everlasting, and his years would not fail, because he loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. He was the Lord God of the Psalms, who heard the prayers of his people:
I said, “O my God…
25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
26 They will perish, but You will endure;
Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak You will change them,
And they will be changed.
27 But You are the same,
And Your years will have no end.
The message in Psalms, John’s epistle, and the book of Hebrews is consistent.
Jesus Christ the Messiah was the Word, the Creator, the Lord God who gave up his divinity to fulfill the Father’s plan. He was born as the Son of Man, and became the only-begotten Son of God the Father, and the firstborn (from the dead) of many brethren. This is why Thomas in seeing the risen Christ, exclaimed, “My Lord and My God.”
Unity and Equality
But most Jews of Jesus’ day could not accept that the Messiah, the Son of Man, was also the Son of God, and thus equal with God. They could not conceive of two beings who were both God — two beings that were one, unified in motivation, purpose, and character. Nor could they conceive that people could become one with God, just as Jesus was one with the Father. They could not fathom the reality that the Son of God, Son of Man, was the firstborn of many brethren. Their understanding was limited by their preconceptions. But they were correct in asserting that sonship meant equality with the Father.
Father and Son Work Together
This equality, however, did not mean that their roles were the same. They were unified and in perfect harmony, but the Father was not the judge. The Father had entrusted the power of judgement to the Son, the Word of God. It was the Word of God, not the Father, who would ultimately judge humanity and make war with his enemies. The Father was the one who drew people to the Son. And it was the Son who led his disciples to the Father. Jesus taught his disciples to pray to the Father, in the name and by the authority of the Son. The Father and the Word, the Son of God, the Son of Man, worked together to accomplish the Father’s great plan of salvation. And they have done their work effectively from the beginning, before the world was, when the Word, and the Father lived in glory together. And they will continue into eternity working together.
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