In the New Testament Gospels we often find that Jesus identified Himself as "The Son of Man". This seems a strange way for a person to refer to himself, but more importantly, what does Jesus mean when He uses this phrase?
Some people say it means that Jesus is part human (a man) as well as being part God. (He is also referred to as the Son of God). One theological minister said that it meant that God was among men. Others have said that it is similar in meaning to the phrase "children of the earth", which refers to the human race. However, when the Bible is correctly understood, this phrase reveals a more profound and important doctrine than most people realize.
Before we consider the term "Son of Man", let's consider the other phrase often used to describe Jesus. All Christians believe that Christ is the "Son of God". What does that mean? Simply that God is the Father of Jesus and that Jesus is God's son, which reveals a father-son relationship. All throughout His life and all through the New Testament this intimate and personal relationship between God and Jesus is shown quite clearly. The Bible says that Jesus was the Son of God. If we are to believe the Bible then we must believe that Jesus was God's Son in a real and literal sense.
Let's consider another phrase. Jesus is also referred to as the "Only Begotten of the Father", but in Luke we read that Adam was also "the son of God" (Luke 3:38). If this is so, then how can Jesus be the only begotten "son of God"?
When Adam was placed here on earth, the Bible simply says that God formed him out of the dust of the earth. There are no details given of how this was done. We are left with the impression that God took some dirt, molded it into the shape of a man, much like a child building castles out of sand, and some how this lump of dirt turned into flesh and bones with hair, a heart, lungs, a circulatory system, a brain, and all the other intricate parts of the body. At least that's the impression we get from the Bible. The Bible makes no mention that Adam was born of a woman the same way all humans are born. Therefore - according to the Bible - Adam was created, not born.
Then God took a rib from Adam's side and made a woman. If God could take a lump of dirt and turn it into a human body, there's no reason why He couldn't do the same with a bone. At any rate, the Bible doesn't say anything about Eve being born of a woman. She too was created, not born, according to the scriptural records we have.
Then the Lord told Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth. Shortly thereafter we read that Adam begat Able. Adam begat Cain. Adam begat Seth. The word "begat" means to be born of a woman. As we read the genealogical lists in the Bible we find a family relationship of one generation to another linked by the word "begat". This begetting was done by the natural process we call birth; that is, a woman, with the help of a man, conceives a child in her womb.
From a single, microscopic cell a living organism will grow for approximately nine months in this environment and then will be delivered from the womb. This is the way all humans are born. Furthermore, each person born this way carries within it's genes hereditary traits received from both it's mother and it's father.
Jesus is called the "Only Begotten of the Father", but was He created or born? The answer is obvious. He had an earthly mother named Mary, and she conceived Him in her womb. For nine months she carried Him there while He grew, and then, while staying in the city of Bethlehem, she gave birth to this child who was called Jesus.
Jesus was "begotten".
However, there was something special about this conception. Although Mary was His actual mother, the Bible teaches that God was His actual Father. Jesus had within His physical, earthly body the hereditary genes of both His mother Mary and His Father, God. Never had such a thing happened before or since. Therefore, Jesus is the only "begotten" son of God.
We believe this because the Bible says it is so, but I wonder how many people have ever thought about what that really implies? In fact, some people have a hard time accepting this as being literally true. I have heard many supernatural explanations of this event, but the Bible offers no other explanation than the one just given.
How did Mary conceive? All the Bible says is that the power of the Highest overshadowed her (Luke 1:35). What does that mean? The Bible doesn't say. What the Bible does clearly state is that Jesus was the "Son of God". There is no symbolism or mystical meaning to that phrase. Mary was the mother of Jesus, and God Himself was the father.
If that is so, what does Jesus mean when He refers to Himself as the "Son of Man"? If Jesus is the literal Son of God, and Jesus is also the Son of Man, not the Son of Woman, then God must be a Man! In other words, every instance where the phrase "Son of God" is used we can correctly substitute the term "Son of Man" in it's place; the two mean the same thing when referring to Jesus.
To most Christians this fact is exactly the opposite of what they have been told the Bible teaches. Almost all churches believe that God, the Father is some how different than man; that man is inferior in form and being than God. Many churches subscribe to the creed which declares that God is without body, parts, or passion, and teach that we cannot comprehend what kind of a being God really is. Yet, the Bible tells us that eternal life comes from knowing God the eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ (John 17:3). We can't really know God if we can't comprehend what kind of a being He truly is.
Does the Bible give evidence that God is a man? In Genesis 1:26 we're told, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Man was created in the image and likeness of God. What does that mean? There are all kinds of explanations. Some say it means that part of God's essence in within each of us. Some say it means God's spark of divinity is within us. Still others say it means we have some of God's attributes of love, compassion, and goodness within us.
Most Christian churches deny that this scripture means that our physical form - our outward appearance - is the same as God's form. To many this concept that God looks like a man is considered blasphemy. They feel it belittles God to think that He is nothing more than a man. Yet, that is the clear implication of this scripture. Furthermore there is nothing anywhere in the Bible that supports the various other explanations which most churches offer.
It is argued by some that God made both male and female. Does that mean God is part male and part female? There are Caucasian men and African men, and Oriental men, and Polynesian men and many other forms of men. Does that mean God looks like all of these different forms? Not at all. Man - meaning mankind (both male and female) - is a species all to himself. Monkeys sometimes behave like humans, but we don't classify them as being part of mankind. Yet, whether a monkey is male or female, we call it a monkey. There are quite a variety of monkeys found in different parts of the world, yet we call all of these different varieties by one designation - monkey.
There are different types of fish, both in salt water and fresh water. Their size varies from minuet to huge. Their form, color, and habits are as different from one another as one species is from another, yet we call all of these different life forms by one word - fish. The same is true of birds, and the same is true of man.
Each race has it's own distinctive features. For example, Africans most generally have black, course, kinky hair, while most Germans have fine, straight, blond hair. What type of hair does God have? It doesn't matter because Mankind, in general, not in specifics, was made in the image of God. God doesn't look like a monkey or a fish or a bird, He looks like a man. Whether His hair is white, black, blond or gray, whether He is tall, short, fat or skinny, whether He looks like an African, Oriental, or Caucasian is immaterial; He looks like a man.
When Moses went up Mount Sinai to talk with God, the Bible says, "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11). Moses has a face, and the Bible tells us that God also has one. The Bible also tells us God has back parts (Exodus 33:23), feet and hands (Exodus 24:10,11). It was the "finger" of God that wrote the Ten Commandments in stone. He has a head with hair, and has eyes and a mouth (Revelation 1:14-16). Is this not the description of a man? Does this sound like a being that is incomprehensible?
Of course there are other explanations to these scriptures. Some people say these are just symbolic words to describe the indescribable. Others say that God can appear as anything He wants - including being in the form of a man. Still others say that no one has ever seen God at all, therefore these accounts were just dream-like visions.
Although these ideas may sound reasonable to some, they are not clearly supported by any scripture. So, in the end, these explanations are the opinions of men and not the word of God. Every instance in the Bible where men claimed to have seen God, the description they give is always that of a man. The writers of the Bible certainly didn't seem to think God was incomprehensible.
In the book of Hebrews we are told that Jesus is the express image of His Father (Hebrews 1:3). That is, he looks exactly like his Father. How many times have we heard people say of a child that he was the "spitting image" of his father? So it was with Jesus.
The Bible teaches that God is a man. God is really the first man, and we were created afterwards in His likeness - we were made to look like Him. Yet, in comparison, we are as small children and He alone is the real man. We do not belittle God by saying this. Instead we glorify His creation and come to better realize the special relationship we have with Him. Certainly Jesus didn't feel it was degrading of God, His Father to call Himself the "Son of Man".
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