We’ve already seen that Jesus will often refer to Himself as “the Son of Man”, a rather interesting little title. In fact, it is the title He uses for Himself more than any other; it is even more interesting to note that this title is used only once in all of the rest of the New Testament in Acts 7:56: “Look,” he (Stephen) said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (cf. Luke 22:69).
For the ancient Hebrew, phrases like “son of so and so” might often be used to say “someone who is like so and so,” Yet when Jesus uses the term, He isn’t saying that He is like some random man, or even like some other person; so what is He up to?
The thing I find really interesting about the term is that it has just enough in it that over time a person who “has ears to hear” is likely to figure out whom or what Jesus is referring to, and those who don’t will always remain clueless. In this respect, I suppose one could say that “Son of Man” is a bit of a parable; for it is certainly a riddle.
Yet it isn’t an impossible riddle.
If we do some digging, we will find a clue in Daniel 7:13-14:
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
It seems highly likely that Jesus used this cryptic reference to identify Himself as the messianic figure from Daniel 7, something that only those with discernment and a willing heart would notice. His opponents, those who either knew, or with reasonable diligence should have known His identity from the very beginning possessed neither of these attributes. This is all the more troubling since of all people, they were the ones who knew these Scriptures so well; such is the condition of this world.