Son of God, son of man

It is the Thursday night before Good Friday. I was at a Tenebrae service, where Mark 14:61-64 was read out:

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death.

These words remind us that, while we interpret the phrase ‘son of God’ in the light of the Trinity, the first century Jews didn’t. They didn’t have any concept of God having a son, that was blasphemous, and the phrase ‘son of God’ was used of human beings – the king, and the Messiah. The claim to be divine required more than just the words ‘son of God’, but rather a close association with God, as in the parable of the tenants in the vineyard (Mark 12:1-12).

But in the trial of Jesus, the claim of divinity rested more in the cryptic phrase ‘son of man’. It could just mean a human being, but Jesus linked it with Daniel 7:13: “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 [i.e. God] and was led into his presence.” There can be little doubt this is a claim to be more than a human being.

Jesus claimed to be divine, of that there is little doubt, but his claims need to be properly understood in their first century Jewish context.

At Easter we remember how much the divine Jesus did for us (Philippians 2:6-8):

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Read more about why we can believe Jesus is divine, in Jesus – son of God?

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