Why did Jesus call himself the Son of Man?
This is a question that former atheist-turned-Christian, Lee Strobel, has wrestled with. He reflects on how he approached this question before he accepted Christ into his life.
“When I was a skeptic, when I was an atheist, I would look in the Bible and I would say, wait a minute go back to Mark. The most common way that Jesus refers to himself in the book of Mark is the Son of Man. So I would say, well there you go! He’s saying ‘I’m a man,’ He’s saying ‘I’m a human being.’
“What I didn’t realize is that this reference, the Son of Man, is actually a reference to Daniel 7: 13-14, where the Son of Man has universal authority, everlasting dominion and receives the worship of all nations.”
By calling Himself the Son of Man, Jesus was making a divine claim that set Him apart from His human flesh. He elaborates on this truth,
“As William Lane Craig, the great theologian and apologist said, ‘The claim to be the Son of Man is in effect a claim to divinity.’ We see Him making claims explicitly and implicitly. We see various ways in which He makes these references in the each of the gospels.”
Lee discusses Mark 14:61-62 in support of Jesus’ divine nature.
“You go back to Mark where the high priest asked Him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ and He says, ‘I am.’”
“Then He says, ‘Then you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
“Well ‘coming on the clouds of heaven’ is a reference to judgment coming to judge human kind. He was affirming in just that one statement, that He was the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed one, the Son of Man, that he would one day come back to judge humankind, etc.”
Jesus, as the Son of Man, reveals his true identity and divine connection to God.
“There’s no doubt that this Son of Man reference alludes to the divine personhood of Jesus, who will, as Daniel says, ‘come with the clouds of heaven.’”
Did Jesus see himself as divine? Yes. Lee points out that Jesus clearly understood his divinity and expressed it often through his actions and words.
“If you look at his actions, Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins. How can a mere human forgive sins? Well because he isn’t a mere human. There’s the actions that he demonstrated as well as the words and deeds that he did.”
Lee Strobel was the award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and is the best-selling author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity (Case for Series), The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. He serves as Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University.The Case for Christ