Bible Society of South Africa

Son of Man – 22 September 2020

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

20Jesus answered him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lie down and rest.”

Matthew 8:20GNBOpen in Bible reader

The expression “Son of Man” is found more than 80 times in the New Testament when Jesus refers to himself in this fashion. It is a difficult concept to explain. It is also found in the Old Testament in Psalm 8:4, where it is translated as “mere mortal,” which is a better translation than “son of man” as this psalm definitely refers to a human being.

In Daniel 7:13, the expression is given a different meaning. Although it is also translated as human being, the direct translation of the Aramaic language is “son of man.” In this vision, Daniel saw the “son of man” approaching “the one who had been living forever” who was sitting on the throne. From Him, this “son of man” received “authority, honour and royal power.”

This part from Daniel actually needs a thorough interpretation all by itself. The whole book of Daniel is not always easy to interpret, but we content ourselves with the following. Amidst the chaos of the world as seen in the vision, the “son of man” came forward and received from God the authority to bring order to the chaos. There are different interpretations. One that seems to make a lot of sense is that it might not be a specific person, but Israel as the chosen people of God who is deemed to bring order to the chaos. We know that eventually the Messiah would come from Israel. Although we might not fully understand what is meant, it is a pointer to help us understand something of the expression in the New Testament.

In the New Testament, the expression is found in different contexts and we should judge the meaning according to the context in which it is found. In our text of today, as well as chapter 17:22, it points to the humiliation of Jesus. In Matthew 9:6 it clearly refers to his authority to forgive sins and in Matthew 10:23 it points to him as the conqueror at the second coming. To me, the expression “Son of Man” is a summary of who Jesus really is and what he can do. As the “Son of Man,” he is unique amongst us, being a human like us, but by what he can achieve, so much more than us. He is also the Son of God who brought order into the chaos that has been brought into the world by sin.

Prayer: Even if I do not fully understand the meaning of the “Son of Man,” I want to thank you for bringing order into my chaotic life. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.18.10
Find us on