Jesus often referred to himself as the “Son of Man”. Why?

Though some think (and it seems reasonable) that Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man to emphasise his humanity, on closer study, I don’t think that was the (only) reason.

It is more likely, that Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man to associate himself with the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7:13-14. In this passage, the one ‘like’ a son of man comes before the ‘Ancient of Days’ and is given dominion, glory and an everlasting kingdom, with people everywhere to serve him.

13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man,and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion,which shall not pass away,and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

-Daniel 7:13-14

When Jesus refer’s to himself in this way, the contexts seem to emphasise his Lordship and that he is ‘the chosen one’ (Messiah). A few examples;

  1. His ability to forgive sins (Matt 9:6; )
  2. His role of Judge (John 5:27)
  3. He is someone to believe in (John 9:35)
  4. His Lordship of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5)
  5. His great power and glory (Mark 13:26)


There are many more references. 88 or so in fact. Most of the 88 emphasis him being the Messiah, the one whom God has given all those things in Daniel 7.

There are times though, when Jesus uses the phrase to seemingly emphasise his humanity, or his ability to be subject to human things, earthly things. An example of this is in Luke 9:44, where Jesus says that the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hand’s of Men. This seems hardly like an emphasis of his Messiah-ship (I know this isn’t a word but you get the gist). Having the advantage of being able to see the bigger picture though, we understand that Jesus’ death was the major part in his role as Messiah. The way the Son of Man was to be granted the things in Daniel 7 was through his death (Matt 26:64 – “from now on” – now that the cross and resurrection were done – “seated at the right hand of Power”).

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

-Matthew 26:64

Even his use of the term related to his humanity in death on the cross end up in showing he is the Messiah.

Some points of application.

  • Jesus is the Messiah, he was clear that he said he was, do you believe it?
  • Jesus has been granted dominion, power, authority, and a people to serve him. Do you trust him? Do you serve him? You should. He is the ‘one like a son of man’ talked of in Daniel.
  • Serving Jesus isn’t a waste of your time. He is given an everlasting kingdom. Throw your life at his service and you are investing in something that will never perish! Now that’s exciting.