…in His previous Incarnation during the First Advent. He is reported to have called Himself, or to have been called by others who believed His word, the Son of Man some 93 times in the Gospels. The title Jesus used most often for Himself virtually disappears after His death, resurrection and ascension. Paul does not use the title “Son Of Man” at all in the written works reputed to have been written by him.
So, why do the persons believed responsible to expand the goods news story of Jesus, the Christ, veer so abruptly from His clear teaching on His humanity? Is this some Di Vinci Code conspiracy (albeit from the first century and minus the Romanish intrigues)? Or, is there are a simpler reason to explain why and how the apostolic (and the anonymous) writers differed from the more complex message of the various gospels?
A young woman, not yet 30, approached me yesterday, asking for a book about what Christians believe and why we believe these things. She is weary of what she labeled “woman to woman” kinds of book studies that are “too mushy” for her mindset.
I had to reply, about the one book of dogma approach that there are a million of them and not any one. I did not get into Calvinism, Millenialism, et al., but only orthodox, mainstream Christian thought. She left with two borrowed books in tow. They were Robert E. Webber’s Ancient-Future book on Evangelism (the only one of the series I have left, having loaned so many others) and a well-marked personal copy of Dallas Willard’s Knowing Christ Today: A Book of Christian Epistemology. I expect thoughtful conversations with her later. I did apologize for the fact that no one is much interested in what I read or study, and, at my age, what I read and study tends to be what I want and not so much the “party line.”
I do read and recommend Adam Hamilton. I read and recommend the late Dale Moody’s Word of Truth. I read and recommend the sermons of Mr. John Wesley and his admittedly abbreviated works on the New Testament.
And, from there, the trail may grow a bit dim. In fact, there are many, many writers out there, from Augustine to Aquinas, from this fellow to that lady (Phyliss Trible and Molly Marshall-Green come to mind among the excellent female thinkers I have read). This maddening fact remains; there is so much material to be covered, one is left to seek out more than this “one book” we can read to have it all and then to answer the question, “Why?”
What we believe, how we came to believe it (if we believe it at all) and why we believe what we believe is a matter of a thousand books on each of the major and minor issues of Faith in general, Christian Faith in particular and one’s own private, personal faith specifically. I listed above a handful of the writer/thinkers I trust. There are many, many more.
I have as many questions as anyone, and probably not significantly less doubts than most people. I contend (and have contended at great personal cost) that the work of being perfected in Christ is possible and vital. “Church” ought to be an organic experience that helps us get better as Christians, not just more knowledgeable.
So, let me say, as concerns Jesus as the Son of Man, I do not believe this title only (or primarily) to stress His humanity. If the Son of Man title is the Messianic title many believe it to be then His linkage to this title in order to demonstrate His authority (as in the Matthew 9 passage previously mentioned) indicates He is demonstrating His divinity, not His humanity.
The epistolary correspondents abandon the title Son of Man in their writings, which must mean they do not have much use for it in their sermons, either. We should not wonder at this fact, but the fact itself is not trivial. The writers-after-Jesus are evangelists, church starters and the like. They do culture war in a polytheistic world, and so spend their time as champions of the Most High God, but with the added burden of the Trinity Jesus proclaims. They have enough to say they are Jews, but not Jews only, and give some explanation why they cannot do their worship in the Temple, or why they do not continue animal sacrifice, or why Jesus is not just another reform-minded radical rabbi intending to restore the luster of internalized monotheism in a Stone-God world.