In John 12, we find that as Jesus was teaching the crowds, they asked Him, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is the ‘Son of Man’ ” (verse 34)?
Today, this is not a difficult question. Many people would be able to answer confidently, “Jesus is the Son of Man,” and they would be right. But what does it mean? Why is it such a significant moniker—that He would be titled this at least 90 times in the New Testament?
In many cultures right across the globe, and even here in American culture to an extent, sons represent their fathers. For example, in some business situations around the world, if the father is absent from a meeting, the son will handle the affairs, speaking and functioning on behalf of his father. He knows the vision of his father, carries the cultural DNA of his father, and operates in the best interest of his father. Of course, then, it makes sense that Jesus is termed the Son of God, perfectly representing the Father to us. He did only the Father’s will (John 5:19, 12:49), living in complete submission, obedience, and willingness.
But isn’t it fascinating that Jesus also completely identifies with humanity, as the Son of Man? He isn’t just the Son of one particular person, but the Son of Mankind. He represents all of us, He understands all of us, and He operates in our best interest. Let’s break it down a bit.
1. The Son of Man bears our grief and brokenness with us.
The classic Scripture Psalm 147:3 announces, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow],” and Psalm 68:19 sings to us, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
If you’ll recall, Jesus was known as the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) and was certainly no stranger to grief, betrayal, loss, and suffering. He does not sit in some distant ivory tower, aloof and unaware of the painful depths of human sorrow—no, He is intimately connected to us. When our grief moves us, Jesus is moved, too.
In the darkest valleys of the soul, when we are tempted the most to believe that we have been abandoned, we must train our spirits to lean on Jesus. He is with us, He is with us, He is with us. You know that old poem where a man reflects on a troubling season of his past and sees only one set of footprints, only to learn that Jesus had carried him? It’s positively true.
You’ve been held, my friend. You’ve been held by a faithful Shepherd.
2. The Son of Man dealt with all of our sins.
“We must cling in faith to all we know to be true. For we have a magnificent King-Priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose into the heavenly realm for us, and now sympathizes with us in our frailty. He understands humanity, for as a Man, our magnificent King-Priest was tempted in every way just as we are, and conquered sin. So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
This is such an integral part of the Gospel: the Son of Man, though Himself thoroughly perfect in every way, willingly accepted the punishment of the sin of the people He represented. The reason this is such good news is that an exchange happened. He took on our sin and endured death and separation from God—but He gave us His righteousness and so allowed us to inherit endless blessings, rewards, prosperity, and everlasting life. (Thank You, Jesus!)
Jesus didn’t just deal with general sin. He dealt with your lust. He dealt with your gluttonous appetite (and I’m not referring to only food). He dealt with your sin-marred sexuality. He dealt with your anger. He dealt with your fearful nature.
And now, because of the cross, you’re free. Well, not just free—everywhere you go, you’re highly favored by a “Friend in high places” and profoundly blessed from head to toe. Goodness and mercy are chasing after you and an immeasurably great reward is waiting for you. You’ll be remarkably full of answered prayers by the time you transition from this life into the even better one, and you’re guaranteed ultimate victory. That’s good news!
3. The Son of Man conquered our shame and guilt.
“The case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One” (Romans 8:1).
That the Son of Man conquered all shame and guilt in us is closely related to the fact that He dealt with all our sin, once and for all. Remember, your sin has been completely erased—painted over by the costly blood of the Savior! It’s as if you have never sinned, utterly white as snow. Therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to feel shame over a sin that God has permanently removed from your record.
When the devil tries to condemn you, he’s hoping you’ll forget the powerful sacrifice of Jesus. He’s hissing about things that have been permanently blotted out from our history by the Judge Himself. My friend, stay joined with the Son of Man. Keep your heart knitted into His, and your mind fixated on Him. Past, present, and future sins have all been wiped away in Christ, and no condemnation remains. After all, “Who would dare to accuse those whom God has chosen in love to be His? God Himself is the Judge who has issued His final verdict over them—‘Not guilty’ ” (Romans 8:33)!
4. The Son of Man is an understanding Friend.
Jesus said to His followers, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
Jesus is our Friend—glory of glories!—but what’s even more beautiful is that it’s reciprocated. He calls us His friends! It’s a great thing to know that the Son of Man is in our corner rooting for us, cheering us on.
Be encouraged today. Jesus is for you. His heart is turned toward you. He understands you, and it is His heart to bless you and build you up. He is not far away, and neither does He grow tired of you. He loves you with an unbreakable love.
Let me leave you one of my all-time favorite verses. I especially love it from The Message Bible, and I love to insert my name into the verse. Here it is:
“Oh! Joshua is my dear, dear son, My child in whom I take pleasure! Every time I mention his name, My heart bursts with longing for him. Everything in Me cries out for him. Softly and tenderly I wait for him. God’s Decree” (Jeremiah 31:20).
Amen! Praise God forever for the Son of Man who represents us, defends us, and acts in our best interest!