Last week we introduced our Fall small group campaign looking at the awesome significance of Jesus as the Son of God. Today we turn our attention to another astounding feature of our Savior, one that makes our redemption possible; that is: Jesus Christ, the son of man.
Christians have been thinking about these two natures of Jesus for almost 2000 years now. That Jesus is divine, God of very God, Word who was both with God and who was God, as John’s gospel tells us. That also, Jesus is human, born of woman, offspring of David, with a genealogy reaching back to the first man, Adam.
Over the centuries these two natures of Jesus the Christ, where God shares our humanity, have been misunderstood and sometimes rejected. The first Christian heresies were comfortable with Jesus’ divinity, but not his humanity. Today we have the opposite problem, so that many modern scholars of Christianity reject Jesus divinity while allowing his humanity. You may have seen advertisements on The Great Courses. I am sure that some of these are fantastic, but those that talk about Christianity are tainted with this modern heresy of resisting Jesus divinity while allowing his humanity, and selectively accepting things in the gospels as real history while denying others.
In an essay delivered on Sunday, June 23, 1996 to the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist church in Ashland, Oregon. Dr. Donald Wells basically said he agreed with the following view of Jesus by these so called biblical scholars:
Dr. Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) 4000 page manuscript: The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples, published in 1774. Points: 1. Jesus sayings according to the gospels are not historical but edited by the writers. 2. Jesus performed no miracles. 3. Jesus teaching on the Kingdom of God are based on the Messianic expectations of the early first century Jews.
Dr. David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874) Two volume Life of Jesus, revised 1839, 1864. His points: 1. All the gospels based their stories of Jesus on hearsay. 2. No miracles happened. 3. John’s gospel is a complete fabrication.
Dr. Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) wrote a life of Jesus. His points: 1. Matthew and Luke copied from Mark, thus Jesus life story is based on a singular person who was not a witness. 2. John contains no historical content. 3. The Jews did not expect a Messiah and Jesus did not claim to be one.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer published The Quest for the Historical Jesus in 1906. His points include: 1. The quest has been a dismal failure. 2. There is no history of Jesus that can be discovered.
1920 Rudolf Bultmann wrote: Since the message of Jesus is in the myth, the gospel of John is the preferred one. And, We can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus.
The essay quotes many others, including some of the 150 scholars who in 1993 called themselves “The Jesus Seminar” and who decided that only 18% of the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were actually spoken by Jesus. Nothing in John’s gospel could be even considered.
Son of man? Once you deny Jesus’ divinity as Son of God, you can then take the club of so called “historical criticism” along with other academic tools and deny every miraculous evidence given about Him. That would indeed leave us very little about Jesus to know. But if you are willing to accept the divinity of Jesus, everything else recorded about Him becomes reasonable. One of the biggest hurdles modern scholars face in their effort to deny Jesus is the witness of Paul. His letters and obvious conviction and commitment to Jesus as both human and divine stand in stark contrast to their denials. Jesus is the Son of God, and He is also the son of man. All the New Testament hangs on the truth about these two natures of our Lord.
Hebrews 1 is about the divinity of Jesus; Hebrews 2 is about His humanity. The Bible shows us how it was necessary for Jesus to be both human and divine. Both are essential for our salvation. There is an ironic but beautiful balance that we see about Jesus in the scriptures. The Lion of Judah is also the Lamb of God. The Master of the universe is the servant Messiah. The Author of Life is put to death on the cross. The Sinless, holy one dies a Sinner’s death between thieves. The King of kings is the poor carpenter’s son. The Son of God is the son of man. Eternal God was clothed in temporal flesh. The blessed redeemer became the cursed rejected one. God created man in His own image in Genesis 1, God took on flesh and became the son of man in Matthew 1. Jesus is Emanuel, God with us.
When we explore the humanity of Jesus Christ we see how God walked in our shoes. Jesus is indeed the son of man. He was as divine as God, His Father, and as human as Mary, His mother.
In the Old Testament, God often referred to His servants with the term “son of man.” Ezekiel is the classic example. Of the 121 occurrences of “son of man” in the Old Testament, 93 of them are in Ezekiel referring to him as God’s prophet. Then in Daniel 7:13-14 Daniel envisions the “Son of Man” coming in the clouds of glory:
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
The Son of God is Jesus, the son of man. God prophesied and promised His coming in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament: The gospels tell us of His life. The book of Acts tells us of His church. The letters tell us His instructions. The Revelation tells us of His ultimate victory.
The book of Hebrews teaches us many things about the importance of Jesus, Son of God, as son of man.
Let’s just look at a few from Hebrews 2:
Made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. (vs 9)
He tasted death for everyone. (vs 9)
He, as captain of our salvation was made perfect (complete) through suffering. (vs 10)
As a human Jesus can call us brethren. (vs 10-13)
The Son of God as son of man destroyed the power of the devil. (vs 14)
As a human Jesus can be a merciful and faithful high priest and atone for our sins. (vs 17)
Since He suffered being tempted, he can help those who are tempted. (vs 18)