On several occasions when He alludes to the 'Son of Man,' Jesus
plainly has Daniel's end-times Messianic figure in mind, because he
mentions distinctive features of that vision, such as the 'clouds:'
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:27-31)
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be
darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens
will be shaken.Then they will see the Son of
Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And
then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from
the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest
part of heaven.” (Mark 13:26).
Language similar to this describes God's theophany:
"The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it."
"Clouds and darkness are round about him:
righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne."
"Who layeth the beams of his chambers in
the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon
the wings of the wind. . ." (Psalm 104:3).
The 'Son of Man' is He who comes back to earth to gather His elect.
Given these very specific and detailed citations of Daniel, it is
really not defensible to claim Jesus' use of the self-designation
'Son of Man' is unrelated to this familiar earlier prophecy.
“Jesus said to him, 'It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'”
“Again the high priest asked Him, saying
to Him, 'Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?'
“Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the
Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming
with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62)
There is a school of Bible scholarship whose glory is make
God's words meaningless and inconsequential. Some of these folks
think that the 'Son of Man' is a fulsome circumlocution, meaning no
more than 'I.' They point out that Ezekiel is also called the 'Son
of Man' without any hidden significance. However, it can scarcely be coincidence
when Jesus brings up multiple features of Daniel's vision, both the 'clouds of heaven' and the title, 'Son
of Man,' in conjunction. What are the odds of that?
'Man,' simply, is also a title of the Messiah, at least in the
Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures: "I will
point to him, but not now; I bless him, but he draws not near: a
star shall rise out of Jacob, a man [ανθρωπος] shall spring out of
Israel; and shall crush the princes of Moab, and shall spoil all the
sons of Seth." (Numbers 24:17). But these people think they are
doing something wonderful and mighty if they take a rich allusion,
to Daniel's Son of Man, and turn it into nothing of any consequence.
It becomes apparent in Daniel's vision, that the Messiah is
already perceived as an exalted heavenly figure, leaving the reader
to wonder how some of Jesus' contemporaries could apparently expect a Messiah
who would be a politician among politicians:
"A similar implication, as has already been pointed out, is embedded in the title ‘Son of Man,’ which Mark represents as our Lord’s stated self-designation. The appeal involved in it to Daniel 7:13,14 is a definite assertion for the Messiah of a heavenly as distinguished from an earthly origin, with all the suggestions of preexistence, divine exaltation and authority, and endless sovereignty necessarily connected with a heavenly origin. It would be impossible to frame a Messianic conception on the basis of this vision of Daniel and to suppose the Messiah to be in His person a mere man deriving His origin from the earth."
(Warfield, B.B.. The Lord of Glory: The Designations of Our Lord in the New Testament (Kindle Locations 336-340). Titus Books. Kindle Edition.)
I the Son of Man
Others of the 'scholarly' tribe dodge in a different direction, saying that Jesus was referring to someone
else, not Himself, when He spoke of 'the Son of Man.' But the
disciples plainly thought it was He who was the Son of Man,
returning on the clouds of heaven:
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
Moreover Jesus speaks of 'I [με], the Son of Man,' a fairly
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?'”
In a passage like Luke 5:24, it is very difficult to sustain the
theory that, in referring to the Son of Man, Jesus is talking about
someone else, not Himself:
“But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed,
'I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.'”
He, not some future heavenly redeemer, is the One who healed the paralytic.
He is the Son of Man. Not everyone knew this, nor did He Himself say
so openly at first, but nevertheless in His time He makes it unmistakably clear.
When He asks Judas at his betrayal,
"But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?"
. . .is it really conceivable He is prophesying about some
(other) future figure whom Judas will also betray with a kiss, just
like he is doing right now?
The 'Son of Man' references are not segregated and applied only
to the Second Coming, as some people claim; in the first advent, the
Lord came in humility, in the second, in glory, and here He plainly
says it is the 'Son of Man' who is crucified: