“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heavenDaniel 7:13
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.”
When the Lord Jesus launched His public ministry, there was one unique title that he ascribed to Himself more than any other — the Son of Man — in Hebrew “ben adam.” Jesus referred to Himself by this title more than 80 times in the Gospels alone.
It is impossible to grasp the significance of this title without first reading and understanding the prophetic word of Daniel. Yeshua goes by many distinct titles. He is Lord. He is the Messiah — the Christ, or Anointed One. He is the Son of the Most High. He is the Son of God. He is the Son of David.
But no other title better communicates the mystery and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ than “Son of Man.” This title identifies the true and complex nature of Jesus, both as a descendant of mankind — aka the “offspring” of the woman [Genesis 3:15] — and also as the divine King from heaven.
Daniel’s introduction to the Son of Man in his prophetic vision is essential when establishing the theological foundation and framework for this title. So what can we learn from Daniel’s prophecy?
The Son of Man IS Both Human And Divine
Daniel saw a vision of the heavenly throne room of Yahweh — the Ancient of Days. Yahweh is surrounded by thrones occupied by members of the divine council. Myriads of holy ones are attending the LORD and intently watching as witnesses. The court sits down in judgment and the books are opened.
Daniel is overwhelmed and out of place, trying to process what his eyes are beholding.
And that’s when Daniel sees Him — the Divine Prince — being presented before the Ancient of Days. This Divine Prince is riding the clouds of heaven in glorious power, and yet at the same time Daniel noticed that He was “like a son of man” — meaning He was human.
The focus of this entire vision is centered on the exchange between the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. The fate of the world and the destiny of mankind hangs in the balance. The wicked kingdoms of the world and the blasphemous little horn are threatening to destroy God’s people.
It is as if the whole host of heaven is saying … who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? Who is able to save and deliver the world?
And the Son of Man is presented before the Ancient of Days to receive power and glory and the kingdom forever and ever amen!
“And to him was given dominionDaniel 7:14
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.”
Jesus was fully aware of what He was saying when referred to Himself as the Son of Man. He was both human and divine. Truly man and truly God.
“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”John 3:12-13
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”Mark 2:10-11
The Son of Man Is the Messiah
From a Jewish perspective, the Son of Man was regarded as one of the most authoritative Messianic titles of divinity. The Messiah is to be the Savior King who comes from heaven to destroy the enemies of Israel and establishes the Everlasting Kingdom of God on earth.
Of course, we now know that the same Son of Man — Yesuah — who came to suffer, die and rise again the first time — promised to return as the King of kings in all His power and glory. It was this language that really got Jesus in trouble with the Jewish authorities of His day.
But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.Mark 14:61-64
The Son of Man Will Come on the Clouds in Great Glory
Perhaps the greatest distinction of the Son of Man is that He alone is the cloud-riding, devil-crushing, saint-saving King of glory who will come on that Day to establish His everlasting kingdom.
Daniel’s description of the Son of Man riding on the clouds is an exclusive characteristic that Jesus reserved for Himself. No one else qualifies for this monumental event in the future when heaven is rolled back like a scroll and Jesus descends from heaven on the clouds in power and great glory for every eye to see.
For a more in-depth dive into the significance of the One riding the clouds on the Day of the LORD, be sure to read my article here.
But for now, let us close with some of the most amazing prophecies that have been declared that Jesus is indeed the Son of Man spoken of by the prophet Daniel.
After He had said this, they watched as He was taken up, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”Acts 1:9-11
“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”Matthew 24:30
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