What Does it Mean for Jesus to Call Himself the ‘Son of Man’?

I was just walking back in the bitter cold, minus one Fahrenheit, from dropping off last night’s movies into the Redbox when it hit me. Under the natural state of things people living outside in these conditions don’t fair very well. It’s all very good and well for that squirrel that lives out back of my place, the one I feed peanuts every now and again, to live out in this, but people will lose fingers and toes, or die.

People don’t overcome cold, or nature, like this just by braving it. They have to communicate with each other. Furthermore, that type of communication also takes a kind of self-sacrifice on the part of the more well off among us in order for it to work. “This kind does not come out except by fasting and prayer,” is what Jesus said about the epileptic boy who was possessed by a demon, from whom his disciples tried but could not cast the demon out while He was up on the Mount of Transfiguration.

If, as I have been hinting to you, Jesus represents a kind of embodiment of mankind, in the same way that Adam did, then maybe his life prophesies for us what we also have to go through in order for us to get free of our binding to the whims and suffering of nature, our death literally and figuratively. Jesus is not just a second Adam, in other words, He is man. He is mankind. He is the ‘Son of Man.’ He is the embodiment of us as a whole.

Several times Jesus suffered, or He cast out a demon from one who was suffering. Each time there was a partial in-filling of the emotional and spiritual depth that needed conveyance in order for us to understand how to be free. In this way He was teaching us that ‘prayer and fasting’ amount to communication and self-denial. The communication being the necessary organization we need in order to help ourselves get free from what many would call the human condition. The self-denial being the intellectual (because it isn’t just about money, but attitudes) and economic decisions we have to make in relation to ourselves and our ‘right’ to get or enjoy riches in the face of that same condition. Jesus was, of course, referring to his time in the wilderness fasting and praying after that He was baptized by John, but He was also speaking to all of us over time. In that weird way that God can he was at once asking us to come to a particular way of thought, and prophesying that we would one day, after a period of trial in the wilderness as the group of mankind, reach that goal as well.

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