Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is referred to by various different names and titles. He is referred to as the Son of David (Matt 1:1) and the Son of God (Matt 9:27). He is called Hosanna (Matt 21:9) and Immanuel (Matt 1:23). The one we are most familiar with, as we have discussed before, is a name and a title, Jesus Christ. It is his given name and as such appears quite frequently in the gospel accounts. But the name/title that Jesus most often used for himself, appearing eighty-three times, is Son of Man. When you really start to dig into the name in scripture you find something really cool. It ties together three main things about who Jesus is and what he came to do. But in order to see this we need a starting point. Our starting point for today will be Heidelberg Ctechims question 50, "Why is it added, "and he sits at the right hand of God?"
His Authority, Even on Earth
This may seem like a strange starting point but you will see where we are going soon. It may be news to you that the title Son of Man appears throughout the Old Testament. It appears ninety-three times in Ezekiel alone. Here it refers to Ezekial himself as being a human being. He is the descendant of Adam. But it also appears in places like Daniel 7:13-14 as a reference to the Messiah. In this passage, there is "one like a son of man" who is given dominion over all, and his kingdom will be without end. This Son of man comes from heaven and then returns to the heavens. The answer to our catechism question sheds a little more light here;
"Because Christ is ascended into heaven for this end, that he might appear as head of his church, by whom the Father governs all things." (A. 50)
Christ, the Son of Man at his death ascended into heaven so that he might govern all things. He is the ruler over all things. This is how Christ uses the title throughout his earthly ministry. In places like Matthew 12:8, we see him say that "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Here Christ directly claims the authority that belongs to God alone. Earlier in Matthew 9:1-8 we read about Jesus asserting his authority to forgive sins. He says, "that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic—‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home." (Matt 9:6). Jesus has divine authority over the Sabbath, over sickness and injury and even over sin. He is the Son of Man, the head of his church.
The Head of the Church
Today we have a culturally negative view of headship. Many who claim to be Christians outright reject what the bible teaches about headship. They do not like that the Bible teaches that fathers are head of the household, as Christ is head of the church. (Eph 5:23) But it is our comfort that the Son of Man is the one who is in control of all things. He was tempted like us and overcame all. He knows us, he is fully human, like us in every respect except he is without sin. He is also fully divine and has all authority in the heavens above and in the earth below. He has rightly determined how things should be and what he has determined is best. Christ at this very moment is ruling as the head of his church from the throne of God.
Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, came to this earth to redeem sinners like you and me. We are born in our sins. By nature, we are in rebellion against the righteous rule of God. We reject his commands and seek to put ourselves in his place. We think that we are the ones who get to decide what is right and wrong and pick what is best for us, but that is not something we can do. In our original state, we cannot do anything but seek our own glory. But Christ, the Son of Man came to die for sinners so that they might be changed and made sons and daughters of God. He is our husband, since the church is called the bride of Christ, and he is our head. He is our leader and our authority. He is the one who rules all will truth and justice. The Son of Man ascended into heaven and will come again to judge the living and the dead. Repent and trust in Christ that you might be found among the living.
Soli Deo Gloria