Why Did Jesus Call Himself the “Son of Man”?

Some people argue that Jesus’ reference to himself as the “Son of Man,” proves he didn’t claim deity.

However, theologian J.I. Packer explains that the name “Son of Man” referred to Jesus’ role as Savior-King, fulfilling Isaiah’s depiction of the Messiah as both the suffering Savior¹ and the coming King where he is called, “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” The Prince of Peace.”²

During his trial before Caiaphas, the high priest, Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man” foretold by the prophet Daniel. Caiaphas ordered Jesus, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy.”³

Why was Jesus accused of blasphemy? It was because Caiaphas knew very well what the Scripture said—that the Son of Man will be given authority over mankind and receive worship. Five hundred years before Christ, the prophet Daniel wrote,

“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 peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.”4

Caiaphas became incensed when Jesus said he is the Son of Man—the one deserving of worship. So who is this “Son of Man” Daniel is referring to, and why is he being worshiped when God alone is to be worshiped? It was clear to Caiaphas that Jesus was claiming to be God.

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¹ Isaiah 53:3-12.

² Isaiah 9:6

³ Matthew 26:63-65, NLT.

4 Daniel 7:13, 14.