of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will


What is the significance in the saying "The Son of Man,"  And how is this different from "The Son of God"?


This is a question of great significance.  Jesus is found applying this designation, Son of Man, to himself some 82 times in the four gospels, so it is his favorite self designation.  I have pondered it for a long time, yet cannot state positively what he means.  You see, he did not bother to explain his use of this term, so we cannot be positive of the application. Nevertheless, I do feel secure in my current view, and will share it with you here.

We know that Jesus characterized the scriptures (OT) as they that testify of me.(Jn.5:39) Therefore it seems reasonable to suppose that he draws this designation for himself from the OT texts.  When we look there for the term, son of man, we find it so many times that it is difficult to decide between them.  There are many cases that obviously cannot apply to Jesus, and they can be easily eliminated, but we are left with some good candidates.  The most obvious ones come from the prophet, Ezekiel, where we find the prophet recording that the Lord addressed him directly about 90 times as son of man and often in a context where it is not difficult to place Jesus.  For example, one can refer to Ezek. 33:7-16 and imagine that Jesus identified with this Son of Man.  However, in every case the prophet is applying the term to himself, and I doubt that Jesus took his designation from Ezekiel.

Daniel used the term only twice, in one of which (8:17), like Ezekiel, he applied it to himself. But the other (7:13f) is a dramatic prophecy of the coming of the kingdom when, as Daniel described it,


[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 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.
This is definitely a prophecy of the crowning of the King of Kings!  It is a prophecy of the coming kingdom that Jesus established and of his receiving all authority in heaven and on earth!  Jesus was surely identifying himself with this prophecy.  This tends to be confirmed when we see Jesus' reference to the Prophet Daniel (Matt. 24:15) is such a way as to inform us that he clearly sees the prophecies of Daniel being fulfilled in association with his times and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

If we associate Daniel's vision of one coming with the clouds of heaven with Jesus use of the expression, we have another good reason to believe that Jesus was pointing to himself in this prophecy and identifying himself as son of man as designated there:


[13] I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,


[30] then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory;


[64] Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.


[27] And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.


    [69] But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.
    70] And they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said to them, You say that I am.
The evidence becomes even stronger when we take stock of the fact that these are the only passages in the Bible where expression, coming in (on, with) the clouds, appears and all share the common expression, Son of man.  

There is more!

Psalm 8 

[4] what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?
5] Yet thou hast made him little less than God,
and dost crown him with glory and honor.
6] Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet,
7] all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8] the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
This is the same prophecy as Daniel's, that of the King receiving dominion.  Furthermore, we know that Jesus applied this Psalm to himself.  How do we know this?  Look at verses 1- 2 of Psalm 8:
[1] O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!
Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted
2] by the mouth of babes and infants,
thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
Now check out and compare this utterance of Jesus:


[14] And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
15] But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant;
16] and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, Yes; have you never read, `Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings
thou hast brought perfect praise'?
We cannot doubt that Jesus was applying this prophecy of Psalm 8 to himself.  We also have this from Psalm 80:


[14] Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15] the stock which thy right hand planted.
16] They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance!
17] But let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand,
the son of man whom thou hast made strong for thyself!

18] Then we will never turn back from thee;
give us life, and we will call on thy name!
We have here the Son of Man at the right hand of God, made strong for thyself!

So, in answer to your question, this is the best I can offer.  Jesus was identifying himself with the son of man of Daniel and the Psalms so that we could see him in the prophetic texts, and see how everything worked out as prophesied as he was exlted to the right hand of God.  Also, it puts us on notice that we are yet to see him coming on the clouds of heaven!

The second portion of your question is: And how is this different from "The Son of God"?

It is the means by which Jesus, a son of man, or one like a son of man, identified himself as the Son of God.  Jesus was the first son of man to be Son of God, and as such, he was that son of man who is, uniquely, Son of God.  Thus he distinguished between his being in the flesh and in the Spirit.  So the two terms apply to the same person, seen from different perspectives.  We find them put together in Peter's confession:


[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, Who do men say that the Son of man is?
[14] And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
[15] He said to them, But who do you say that I am?
[16] Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
[17] And Jesus answered him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
The two designations, Son of man and son of God, also come together in the following, to which we referred above:


    [69] But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.
    70] And they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said to them, You say that I am.
This brings the interesting revelation that the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, who had gathered there to question Jesus, also identified the Daniel's Son of man prophecy with the Son of God.  

In conclusion, the best evidence indicates that by the expression, Son of man, Jesus identified himself with the prophecies of Daniel and the Psalms that spoke of the coming of one like a son of man, who most understood would be the Son of God, and who was to receive the messianic power and authority over all things.  Jesus indeed fulfilled these prophecies when the kingdom of God came on earth as it is in heaven and when, as he said,


    [18]  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  

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