In looking at what Jesus claimed about himself, we see in the title “Son of Man” his favorite title for himself. At least it is the most often used as he spoke of himself using this title 40 times. It is also interesting to notice that he is seldom called this by others. This title comes from the Old Testament. It is frequently used by Ezekiel but its primary Old Testament use comes from the Book of Daniel chapter 7:9-14 where the description is given of the Messiah’s return to the presence of the Ancient of Days after completing his work. So the title “Son of Man”, while a clear connection to humanity, would also be to Jewish ears a clear claim to be the Messiah.
That is clearly what we see in Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:30-31, “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” It makes me wonder. We often choose names for ourselves that show our unique interests or talents. Something that makes us stand out. Jesus had divinity in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit but his humanity was unique. Hence the preferred title. Just a thought.
Some of the passages that use the title “Son of Man” tell us of Jesus’ pre-existence. The Son, as part of the Trinity, has always existed. That nature of Christ which is fully God has always been and shall always be: he did not become the Son at his birth or baptism or resurrection. When Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” he was presupposing that he did not get his start at his birth on this earth but rather came from beyond and entered this time and place (Luke 19:10).
The same implication is found in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus was not shy about his pre-existence. Even when not using the title “Son of Man” he speaks of having come from the Father and of going back. This earthly incarnation was not his beginning. “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.’ His disciples said, ‘now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this, we believe that You came from God” (John 16:28-30).
It is also important to see that the title “Son of Man” refers to Jesus’ return. In Matthew 24:44 we find Jesus speaking, “For this reason, you be ready too, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour when you do not think he will.” Even more so in Matthew 25:31, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” The power of this title tells us of a Jesus who always was, and who will return to establish an eternal Kingdom. It is this Jesus that cared about you and your life as he offered his life as a sacrifice for your eternal life.