Throughout the Gospel of John, we have seen Jesus call himself the Son of Man several times. He uses this title frequently, and it can be found 80 times throughout the four Gospels. Why does he use this title and what does it mean?
On the surface, we understand that Jesus calling himself the Son of God implies his divinity, and calling himself the Son of Man implies his humanity. Jesus is one person with two natures, a divine nature and a human nature. However, Son of Man is not only pointing to his humanity. This title points to a specific figure the Jews would’ve recognized by the title Son of Man. This is found in the Book of Daniel in chapter 7 where Daniel is explaining a vision given to him about the end times.
13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
- Daniel 7:13-14
This is the passage that would’ve come to every Jewish mind when they heard Jesus call himself the Son of Man. This person was understood to be a highly exalted person and the Messiah. Jesus speaks of the Son of Man being lifted up several times in John. He is pointing to his being lifted up on the cross.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
- John 3:14-15
The Son of Man, Jesus, was lifted up on the cross. He lived the perfectly obedient life that we couldn’t live, he died in our place on the cross bearing God’s wrath for our sins, and he was resurrected 3 days later. He lives and he promises eternal life for those who believe in him.