The Son of Man

Jesus refers to Himself through several “I am” statements and through the designation “Son of man.” In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asks His disciples who they believe He – the Son of man – is, and He seems to use this designation as a means of connecting Himself with the Old Testament and the prophets. It is used in Daniel 7:13 and several times throughout the book of Ezekiel. Often God refers to Ezekiel as “Son of man.”

In Luke 22:66-71, Jesus’ uses this designation as a clear indication of His equality with God. His audience does not miss this implication, and this term is used by Jesus in 80+ other locations in the gospel. The one time the people use this is in John 12:34, and they ask, “Who is this Son of man?”

Who Is the Son of Man?

In John 2:13, Jesus comes to Jerusalem for Passover and rebukes individuals who have set up shop on the temple grounds, and the people ask Him what authority He has. In answer to this, He equates His own self with the temple – the sanctuary, the dwelling place of God. In a sense, He was placing the holy of holies within Himself, and, like Him, we should view ourselves as our Lord’s dwelling place (galatians 2:20).

In John 3, the chapter opens with a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. As the Pharisee begins realizing the potential of who Jesus is, Jesus leads him into God’s plan for Christ in verses 13-14, and, in John 8:24-28, Jesus claims His crucifixion will be evidence of His deity, claiming faith in Him is necessary for salvation. This the role He plays in God’s plan for our reconciliation with Him.

In John 6:29, Jesus calls on His disciples to believe in Him as sent from God. They ask for a sign (despite their miraculous meal the previous day), but Jesus turns their attention from physical bread to the spiritual food He provides – calling Himself the bread of life that all who hunger should come to. His bread gives life eternal to the world.

Finally, at the conclusion of the feast of tabernacles that follows the day of atonement in John 7, Jesus invites all who thirst  for everlasting to come to Him in verses 37-38. Every day during this feast, worshippers would create a canopy of willow branches around the alter as a priest offers a drink offering, and, on the seventh day, they continue this process while singing Psalm 118 of God’s loving kindness. Isaiah 43:19-20, 44:1-3, and 58:11, the prophet uses water as imagery of God’s forgiveness for His people. In this invitation, Jesus again equates Himself with God.


He has used imagery of manna in the wilderness, of the bronze serpent, of atoning water, and of the sanctuary – all pointing to His role as deity in flesh. Without Him, our life is empty, but, through Him, we can be filled with God’s love and mercy, providing rest and forgiveness of sins.

lesson by Tim Smelser