The Church needs to be the Son of Man.
Luke 9:22 “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Luke records 22 times when Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man.
The Son of Man with authority to forgive sins (5:24); as Lord of the Sabbath (6:5); whose followers will be hated (6:22); accused of being a drunkard (7:34); who must suffer many things (9:22); in these verses today where he will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of him (9:26); who will be handed to men (9:44); who has no place to lay his head (9:58); he will be as Jonah was, a sign to the present generation (11:30); he will acknowledge us before angels (12:8); will forgive (12:10); will come unexpectedly (12:40); a period of time known as the days of the Son of Man (17:22); compared to lightning (17:24); similar to the days of Noah (17:26); will be revealed again (17:30); he will come to the earth again (18:8); the prophets wrote about him (18:31); came to seek and save the lost (19:10); he will come in a cloud (21:27); those who escape will stand before him (21:36); he would depart soon (22:22).
In fact no other gives him the title, he uses it for himself.
Jesus didn’t come announcing he was the Son of God, ‘I have arrived, here I am the Messiah, the One the world has been waiting for, I am the be all and end all.’ He didn’t do that. In fact the time that he announced his deity was at the point he was laying it down at the cross for us but not before.
So why did he use the title ‘Son of Man’ so often?
In its most basic form, the Son of God is his deity and the Son of Man is his human identity.
He uses the title because
- There was no offence, everyone is a child of a man after all.
- It is a title used in Daniel 7 for an exalted figure, an earthly being but a heavenly one at the same time, those with ‘ears to hear’ would understand this but again the subtlety of Jesus is seen. He is cloaking who he is.
Several years ago I stood in front of my church and announced this:
“This year we will not focus on bringing people to church. We were not particularly good at this last year so we won’t be trying to do better.” There were cheers and sighs of relief from some but mostly a waiting for the ‘But’ from the others.
“But, we will all go and join something, a club, a society, a group, we will integrate as much as we can, we will get non-Christian friends and simply work at being friends and nothing else. Some of you only have Christian friends and that is why you are not happy so this will be good for you. I will be teaching a 4 week series on how to be normal for I fear we have become strange, we have a strange language of Zion that no one understands, we have behavioural practices that are weird and we need to unlearn what we have become and we need to become as normal as possible. For some of us this will be harder than for others but we will try. There is a rule. We must not tell people we are a Christian unless they ask. The point of being there is to be human not a spirit-filled, tongue speaking Pentecostal Christian just waiting to ask the question, ‘are you washed in the blood of the lamb?’ We engage and do life with people and we wait for the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do.”
What happened was quite remarkable as we saw for the first time long standing Christians getting involved in the world around them. Then the Holy Spirit started taking over and giving people wonderful faith conversations with people they had been going to the pub or café with or in the gym etc. The people in my church who had struggled to get folks into the church building were finding it easier than they thought to get church into the lives of those near them. By the end of the year our church attendances had shot up remarkably, we had entered into a whole new season of growth.”
As I think on that time this morning I realise that the Church had embraced and focused on its humanity, they had become the ‘son of man’ and at the same time had cloaked the authority and power that Christ had given them which in the course of time the Spirit flowed through which led to salvations and many faith conversations.
Perhaps the Church in the UK has been trumpeting its heavenly status and our dynamic power over the realms of darkness but at the same time have hidden our humanity. Maybe we have got things the wrong way round. Maybe the church needs to declare its frailty, its imperfections, its pursuit for the truth as journeymen, people of the way, its humanity. Those with ‘ears to hear’ will realise that when the body of Christ does that even though they are cloaking it then the exaltation of Jesus is near, the power of Christ will come through, the mysteries of heaven will emerge from the covers of humanity to a lost and broken world.
Let the Church announce ‘The Son of Man is here.’