“Who is Jesus?” Only three words, but this is the most important question that any person can ever ask. Many people may give an answer based on their personal experiences or repeat a definition they've heard so many times that it has lost all meaning to them. While personal experiences and carefully defined terms are critically important, we must always start with the Bible. So what does the Bible say about Jesus? Alot! In fact, the entire message of all 66 books is centered on showing us Jesus. For now, we will start with how Jesus Himself answers the question.
The New Testament commonly refers to Jesus as Lord, Christ (or “Messiah”), and Son of God because that is who He is. These are also probably the ways that many of us most commonly refer to Jesus, yet He used none of these titles to refer to Himself. Jesus likely even purposefully avoided using the term “Messiah” because of the incorrect political connotations the people in His day applied to it. Instead, His favorite self-designation was “Son of Man”. This phrase appears 81 times in the Gospels, but we cannot understand it without first looking to the Old Testament.
The Psalms (such as 8:4 and 144:3) use this phrase to mean “human being”. Jesus is truly a human being, but if we read the context of how He uses this phrase in the Gospels (usually “the Son of Man”), then we know that Jesus must also mean something more. The key passage for understanding Jesus’s self-designation is one that nearly every Jew during Jesus’s time would have known well. Daniel 7:13-14 says, “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. 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.”
So why would Jesus use this phrase “Son of Man”? He is God and man; this passage in Daniel provides the best imagery to communicate that idea to His contemporaries. He is a human being--He is the human being--and He is the One coming to rule and to be worshipped alongside the Ancient of Days. Paul uses this basic idea in Romans when he describes Jesus as the Second Adam who brings peace, life, and righteousness to all who are part of the new creation in Him instead of the conflict, sin, and death to all who remain part of the original fallen creation in Adam. Jesus can only represent us and bring us into life in the new creation if He is truly human like all the sons and daughters of Adam. Jesus can also only be a perfect offering to pay for sins if He is God, because no man can live perfectly and no man can pay for his own sins, let alone anyone else's sin. Jesus must be truly God & truly man. We cannot have salvation if He is anything different.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Son of Man.
Grace and Peace,