Why is Jesus Christ called the Son of Man?

Typically when we think of Jesus, we think of someone divine, more than a man, a worker of miracles. These qualities all associate Jesus as the Son of God. Why, then, does Jesus often refer to Himself as the Son of Man? Very rarely does anyone else use this term. Jesus doesn’t explain the term Himself. We have compiled a few possible explanations of His use of the term “Son of Man”.

Respect for Mary

Jesus’ birth was miraculous in that He was born to a mortal mother, but fathered by God. The attributes Jesus gained from His Father were imperative to Jesus’ mission, but so were the characteristics He gained from Mary. You can read about His miraculous parentage in Luke 1:26-38.

Mary gave Jesus the ability to feel physical pain through a physical body, including death. If it weren’t for His mother, Jesus would not have been able to walk among us and show us the way of heaven. 

Example of Heaven

Jesus spent much of His time trying to teach His followers about the nature of heaven. Jesus knew the scriptures and prophecies well, beginning His study of ancient texts as a young boy. He was so well read that at the age of twelve He was found teaching the Jewish leaders at the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Jesus must have had a commanding presence, and quite possibly was intimidating despite His kindness. 

It is possible Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man to emphasize that, although powerful and well educated, He was also a mortal man. Since He is a mortal man, we can all aspire to be like Him and follow Him. If He were simply a God that had come among us, it is unlikely that any of us would even try to be like Him. Jesus would have been to alien, too foreign for us to be able to attain. He was the mortal embodiment of heaven on earth, the perfect example of who we can all become through His grace. As Jesus taught about heaven, He continuously created parables that made heaven understandable for mortals. He would use farming, family relationships, and other ordinary experiences to help us understand. In a similar way, He made Himself more understandable by emphasizing His humanity.

Jesus didn’t only teach us about the kingdom of God in parables. Jesus used His physical body to be baptized and to serve others. These are all things that we can do. 

Death and Resurrection

As mentioned earlier, Jesus’ mortality was a precious and necessary gift given to Him by His mother Mary. Not only was Jesus sent to show us the way of heaven, He needed to die for us. This is a complex religious idea that is difficult to fully comprehend. At the most basic level, every human to ever live has sinned. Justice means that we should all be punished for that sin, a basic punishment being that we cannot go to heaven. Jesus’ voluntary death on our behalf essentially paid Justice’s need for punishment, which means we can go to heaven even though we are not perfect.

Jesus’ parentage made Him uniquely able to fulfill this requirement. Because God is Jesus’ Father, Jesus was in full control of His life. No one could kill Him (John 1017-18). If Jesus had been fully immortal, however, He could not have died at all. Mortal Mary gave her Son the ability to die. In this way, the Son of Man is a holy title, acknowledging the sacred combination of divine and mortal created and used for the welfare of all mankind.