Son of God, Son of Man

son of manIn the Gospels Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man 85 times. Why would the Son of God’s favorite designation for himself be Son of Man? In his conversation with the disciples in Mark 10 he gives us some insight:

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 ESV)

The simple meaning of Son of Man is that Jesus was human. He was born of a woman like other men. He grew up like other children. He got hungry and thirsty. He experienced loneliness and exhilaration. He was the Son of Man.

Yet he was the Son of God. As the Son of God he was unlike any other human being. He was born of woman, conceived by the Spirit. He grew up like other children yet unlike other children. Luke tells the story:

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:46-49 ESV)

As the Son of God he longed to be in His Father’s house.

Why would the Son of God’s favorite title for himself be, not the Son of God, but the Son of Man? Because he came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. God, by his very nature, must be served. No one is higher than Him, no one more deserving of praise, no one more deserving of glory. He must be served.

In Jesus the served became the servant, the glorified became crucified, the holy was humiliated. At the very heart of Christianity is selfless service because we worship the Son of God who was the Son of Man.


He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9 ESV)

Ruth’s request required one attitude: humility. Humility is the admission that you can’t make it alone, that you need someone else. Humility sees the storm on the horizon and calls out to God for help to weather the storm. Humility admits weakness and invites another’s strength. Ruth’s request to Boaz recognized her weakness and Boaz’s strength.

For some reading this, your beginning point isn’t your request to God…it is your attitude before God. Will you humble yourself before Him admitting your desperate need of Him? Ruth identified herself as a servant and asked for Boaz’s help.

David wrote this desperate plea to God when he was running for his life from Saul and hid in the cave. He was a hunted man desperate for God’s help:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Psalm 57:1-3 ESV)

David was the anointed King of Israel. Saul was the sitting King. David was the favored son of Israel, Saul was the feared leader of Israel. David found himself running from a paranoid, tyrannical leader. He was at a clear disadvantage. He pictured himself as a helpless bird needing the protection of its mother.

birds under wings

What do you need from God today? Cry out to Him.

The restless redeemer will not rest until he has given you refuge.

Selfless Saints

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12 ESV)

For the past week we have seen the faith of Old Testament saints. Hebrews 11 lists them and their accomplishments–all a result of great faith in God. Peter adds additional insight into the plight of these Old Testament prophets. Don’t miss this–you will be surprised that you were on their minds. They prophesied about the grace that was to be yours. They knew a better day was coming–they just didn’t know when.

They wanted to know who the Messiah would be and what time He would come. God did not reveal that to them. God did reveal to them what kind of Messiah he would be, so that when he appeared, New Testament saints would know it. In other words, they lived not for themselves or their own satisfaction, but for the fulfillment and satisfaction of a future generation. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you. While Peter was certainly writing to persecuted Christians spread throughout the greater Middle East in his day, his words are just as applicable to us today.

Consider Isaiah.

  • In Isaiah 52:13 Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be raised, lifted up, and exalted. In Philippians 2:9-11, Paul writes that God exalted him and that one day every knee will bow.
  • In 52:14 Isaiah said that Jesus appearance was “marred beyond human semblance.” Matthew 26:67 records the merciless beating of Jesus.
  • In 53:3 Isaiah describes him as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. John confirms Isaiah’s prophecies in John 11 by describing how many rejected Jesus, especially the religious leaders.
  • In 53:9 Isaiah predicted his grave would be with the wicked and the rich. He was crucified between two thieves and buried in wealthy Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.

God revealed “clues” about the Messiah to the prophets, not for their benefit, but for yours. They faithfully wrote down what God told them and you benefit from it today. Their faithfulness builds your faith. How remarkable is this? So phenomenal that angels long to look into these things!

What should this encourage you to do?

Read the Old Testament with gratitude for imperfect saints who put their faith in a gracious God.

Ask yourself: what are you doing today that does not serve yourself, but others; that does not build your faith but someone else’s; that does not help your cause, but another’s.