As I was reading John, as well as the rest of the Synoptic Scriptures for that matter, I began to wonder, “Why does Jesus call himself the Son of Man. After all, he is the Son of God right?” It seems to me that Jesus is just contradicting himself with the two titles. This lead to me asking the question: Why does Jesus call himself the Son of Man?
The term “Son of Man” occurred many times throughout the Synoptic Scriptures. “The term the Son of Man occurs in Matthew 32 times, in Mark 15 times, in Luke 26 times, and in John 12 times.” (http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/what-jesus-said-about-himself/what-did-jesus-mean-by-the-son-of-man.html) Obviously, this was one of Jesus’s favorite titles for himself. In fact, it was a largely self-given title for himself. Of the twelve times in the book of John he was called the Son of Man, ten of those times Jesus used this term to describe himself. (http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/what-jesus-said-about-himself/what-did-jesus-mean-by-the-son-of-man.html) So why use this term so many times then? Surely there is some greater meaning to the title.
But Jesus isn’t the only one to refer to himself as the “Son of Man.” The term was also used in the Old Testament prophecy about the upcoming Messiah. “The Book of Daniel predicted that the Son of Man would inherit God’s everlasting kingdom.” (https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_793.cfm) Therefore, the term must have had plenty of significance. But what does it all mean?
On the surface I believe it is safe to say that the term “Son of Man” quite obviously means that he is the son of a man. Which, he was the son of the Virgin Mary. “He was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-is-jesus-called-son-of-man) Since he was conceived from the Holy Spirit, why didn’t he just call himself the Son of God to reaffirm his divinity?
Since Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, he became a man. The term “Son of Man” doesn’t mean that he had lost his deity, but rather he gained humanity. “By becoming a man, Jesus did not cease being God. The incarnation of Christ did not involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity. Jesus clearly claimed to be God on many occasions.” (http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/son-of-man.html) There are other connotations to the term as well. ‘The term also refers to the suffering he would have to endure while he was alive as well as his rule over humanity.’ (https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_793.cfm) The suffering he would endure refers to the events leading up to and including the crucifixion. His rule over humanity is backed up by Matthew 25:31, which states, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.”
I believe that the term “Son of Man” was used by Jesus to show that, not only was he the son of God, but to also show his humanity as well. In this earthly body, Jesus would be able to show how man is supposed to live.