Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Son of Man

Jesus Christ. Son of God. Son of Man.
The Bible tells us that He is both these things and simply by the exalted nature of them, these statements carry a lot of weight. I want to understand them, and understand well.
The idea that Jesus is the Son of God seems the easier of the two. After all, the Father Himself declares a number of times that Jesus is His Beloved Son. And I know what a son is. I have two of them.  So, if God the Father has a Son, their relationship and shared common nature make sense. 

Son of Man, not so much. If Christ is the Son of God, how could He be the son of men as well? And why? And yet, in the Bible, He declares that He is. Son of Man is Jesus' name for Himself.
What do men say that I, Son of Man, am?--Matthew 16:13

Well, it turns out that I'm not the only one who wanted to understand this better. Iraneus, the bishop of Lyons from 177-200 AD, had quite a bit to say about it.*

First, he observed, Jesus passed through every stage of human life. As Adam was made from untilled virgin earth never knowing rain, so did Christ begin His human life in the womb of a virgin. That was the beginning. Afterwards, He grew through common years like any man--preborn, infant, juvenile, adult, and even corpse--so that no man can say he has been left behind in his peculiar state. Christ became fellow of us all. He did not live outside human frailty at any time in his earthly life. Instead, He sanctified all stages and states of life by sharing them.
Christ, as Son of Man, was like me, no matter who I am.

Second, by the very act of taking on flesh, by participating in incarnation, Christ reunited man to God. The fact of His humanity made Him mediator between God and Man. 
I think that this is kind of like forgiveness--it happens in stages. The first stage is that in which we forgive an unrepentant sinner to free our own spirit from bitterness and hatred, but in which the complete relationship is not yet restored. So did God come down to unrepentant, clueless man and present Himself, ready and waiting.  The second stage, in which our relationship with the sinner is restored through repentance, Christ lived out in His own suffering and death. That freed all penitents to walk through the now-torn veil directly back to the Father.
Christ, as Son of Man, led the way for all men.

Third, Christ overcame Satan as only a man could have done. From the very beginning of His ministry, He exposed Satan's rebellion when He said, 
It is written: Worship the Lord thy God and Him only shall you serve.--Luke 4:8
So man, through the Son of Man, nullifies the power of Satan that Adam admitted in Eden. By His own obedience and submission, Christ put Satan in his place.
Later, He goes even further by subjecting Himself to disgrace and physical suffering. Had He not done so, God would have asked men to endure the scourge and turning the other cheek, something He Himself had not endured, effectively elevating the servant above the master. This, He could not do.
And then, when He became the first man to die and rise again, He showed Himself to be the Author of Life, who goes before us all to show the way.
Christ as Son of Man shows me what He created man to be.

In the end, if Christ is not Son of Man, I have no way to understand either the nature of God nor the nature of Man. Only through Him can I understand what I am created to become. Only through His humanity do I understand my own. 

*Iraneus, Against Heresies, III


  1. Love the simple truth of this. "He sanctified all stages and states by sharing them." yes! Good word here. happy Sunday!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. Bless you, ma'am.

  2. Obviously, Iraneus was a bit confused.

    As The Son of God Christ likened himself with the corn, which is being sown, which flourishes and which is being harvested, and ultimately is made bread of. And as The Son of Man He likened Himself with the grape of the vine, which is born, which turns to sap, and which ultimately turns to wine. The son, to the woman, explains her.

    1. So Anders...let me see whether I can follow you. The Son of God is the Bread of Life and the Son of Man is our wine, the cup of salvation. I like that picture. Thank you.

  3. Jesus, Son of man, Son of God, has so many facets that continue to shine with new light in the life of us, the believers. Thank you for helping me to more fully consider and embrace our precious Lord. Be blessed, Maria from Delight Directed Living

    1. Thanks, Maria. Isn't this a great week to think about every one of these facets? Happy Easter.

  4. This is such an awesome, clear explanation. I especially love your last point!

    1. Amazing what those ancient fathers of the faith can teach us. Happy Easter, Jen.

  5. Wow! This was so insightful...your quest for understanding helped me to grasp this truth in a whole new glad you came across Iraneus' explanation!

    1. Thanks, Kel. Turns out that those old guys have a lot to say about the same questions that make us wonder today. I find it very helpful to look a long way back sometimes to find answers to the hardest questions.


    Can the living solicit the dead to pray on their behalf? It is possible for the Virgin Mary and other dead Christians to petition God for living Christians?


    Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know they will die;but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for there memory is forgotten.

    The dead are not cognizant of the wants and needs of the living. The dead are not even aware that the living exist.

    Job 14:10,12,21 "But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he? 12 So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep. 21 "His sons achieve honor, but he does not know it; Or they become insignificant,but he does not perceive it.

    The dead know nothing. The dead are not aware of the activities or accomplishments of their relatives that are alive. Dead Christians cannot pray for things they are unaware.


    Saul asked a medium from Endor to bring Samuel from the dead so he could talk to him. (Samuel 28:1-12)

    Leviticus 19:31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

    The only way to consult the dead is through mediums. God prohibits this. (Deuteronomy 18:11-12)

    1 Chronicles 10:13 So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium,making inquiry of it,

    The only way to ask a dead person to pray for you, if that were possible, would be through a medium. Saul died because he contacted the dead through a medium.

    Isaiah 8:19 When they say to you, "Consult mediums and the spirits who whisper and mutter." Should not the people consult their God?Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

    When men have wants and needs they should consult God the Father. Praying to or asking dead Christians to pray for them is not an option. The dead can only be consulted by mediums.