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Bible Correspondence Course

12. The Son Of Man

Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam (his peace be upon us) very often referred to Himself as 'the Son of Man', using this title more than any other during His ministry. At the beginning of His ministry He used it when addressed by a new disciple called Nathanael. He said, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man".[1]

He used it for the last time before the Jewish high priest, on the night before His crucifixion. He said to him, "... In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven".[2]

1) Servant and Leader

There are many places in which Sayyidna Isa used the title Son of Man intentionally, to make a point about who He was. Once when He was talking about the cost of people following Him, He said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head."[3]

What does this title mean? Does it simply speak to us of the humanity of Sayyidna Isa al-Masih? Or that Sayyidna is both leader and servant of humankind; in that He both serves and leads humanity into a right relationship with God, through the cross? For although Isa al-Masih was the Messiah, we know He was a servant, and He loved those that He served. This does not mean that He was not great! For, as the Gospel according to Mark reads, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

Many of the learned Jews understood why Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam was using such a title. For example, when talking about the end of the world, He said, "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory."[4] On hearing a similar statement at Sayyidna Isa al-Masih’s trial, the high priest of the Jews tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy!"[5] He reacted in such a way because according to Jewish teaching only God could do that. See Psalm 104:3.

2) A Great Prophecy

When He used this name “son of man”, the Jewish listeners understood that Isa al-Masih was quoting directly from a well-known prophecy in the Old Testament, which had been given to the prophet Hazrat Daniel in a vision.

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days (God) and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."[6]

The term 'Son of Man' in these writings is firmly linked with Sayyidna Isa al-Masih, who will come with the clouds of heaven. He will have complete authority over all people and nations. It is clear that the Son of Man is a glorious person; humanity in perfect form and with all honour.

In the Bible we find the expression 'son of man' also used in a general sense denoting humanity.[7] However, when Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam used this title for Himself, it was in an exclusive sense, meaning that He is the ultimate Son of Man, the one who was seen by Hazrat Daniel in his vision.

3) The Purpose

As the Son of Man, Sayyidna Isa Shafi'u'llah gave His life for humanity, and afterwards was lifted up by God to glory in the heavens, to reign with Him in wondrous majesty over all the sons of men. Sayyidna Isa spoke about His death on the cross, His burial, and resurrection to His disciples, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him".[8] He was referring to Psalm 22, Psalm 69 and Isaiah 53.

As we have seen in previous lessons, some of those who are opposed to the message of Sayyidna Isa Kalimatu'llah think of His crucifixion as an insult, but He spoke of it as a means of being glorified. For example, shortly before His crucifixion He said to His disciples, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds".[9]

Three days after Sayyidna Isa al-Masih had died on the cross, God raised Him from the dead, and forty days later, God lifted Him up to glory in the heavens. One day Sayyidna Isa will return for those who belong to Him.

So we see that the Son of Man is unique among men, the One who has been given all authority, glory and sovereign power; and who will be worshipped by all peoples.

References:

  1. [1] John 1:51
  2. [2] Matthew 26:64
  3. [3] Matthew 8:20
  4. [4] Matthew 24:30
  5. [5] Matthew 26:64,65
  6. [6] Daniel 7:13-14
  7. [7] Job 25:6; Psalms 8:4; Isaiah 51:12
  8. [8] Matthew 26:24 c.f. John 12:32-34
  9. [9] John 12:23-24

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