What we call ourselves can be revealing. How many of us call ourselves "losers" or "stupid" or "disgusting"? Who do you know that insists on being called "Doctor" or who gets upset if you call them "Ms." when they are really a "Mrs."? [As an aside, we had two professors at my college who were married to each other - the husband was "Dr. ____" and his wife was "Dr. Mrs. _____."]
We give meaning to titles, because they reveal something about who we are. We call ourselves names that we think reflect the truth of our existence.
I've been thinking about this tonight after spending more time in John 1. In the final verse, Jesus calls himself "the Son of Man." I wondered why He chose this particular title. So I started searching the rest of Scripture.
It turns out that the first time that phrase was used to refer to Christ was in Daniel 7. Daniel saw "one like a son of man coming with the clouds." This "son of man" went before the Ancient of Days, was given authority to rule over all things, that all peoples, nations, and kingdoms would serve Him. And His kingdom would be everlasting and could never be broken. This passage is an important messianic prophecy - concerning the Christ, the promised one who would redeem Israel.
Jesus used the phrase "Son of Man" to refer to Himself more than any other title. In Matthew 9, he told a paralytic man that his sins were forgiven. The Pharisees were, as usual, very persnickety and complained that Jesus had no right to say that. Jesus responded that, "in order to show you that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins," he told the man to take up his mat and walk. And he did.
I find it fascinating that Jesus' words mirror the prophecy in Daniel. Almost like He meant them to, huh? :-)
In Acts 7, the apostle Stephen proclaimed that he saw "one like the Son of Man" at the right hand of the Father in heaven just before he was killed. And the apostle John, in his vision of heaven, heard someone talking - when he turned, he saw "One like the Son of Man" standing there, and John fell at his feet.
One of our Bible's commentators suggested that Jesus only used the phrase "Son of Man" because it was an innocuous term that wouldn't arouse the ire of the Jews. While I certainly understand the potential validity of this explanation, it strikes me as a bit unsatisfying.
I mean, wouldn't you think that the God of the Universe could avoid arousing anger grammatically by simply using the first person? I, at least, am pretty sure that if I can see that potential, the LORD could, too.
No, I don't think Jesus called Himself the "Son of Man" over 80 times simply as a grammatical turn of phrase. I cannot be totally certain, but I think that the term was chosen very specifically to emphasize the enormity of the truth about Christ:
The Word that existed in the beginning, that was God Himself (John 1:1), who created all things (John 1:3), became flesh (John 1:14) - became, literally, a son of Man - and dwelt among us!!
The God of all creation forced Himself into human form, with all of the pain, suffering, desires, and temptations (Hebrews 4:15 - For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.).
And why did He do this? Why did He "who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross"?
Well, friend, He did it for you. Because He loves you.
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ~ 1 John 4:9-10
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:4-9
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. ~John 3:16-17
Pretty cool, I think. :-)