Who is Jesus? This has been a question for many, many centuries. There is a lot of ambiguity, even in the Bible about who Jesus was as a mortal and is as the Son of God. There are many answers too. There is a poster in the office at my church that has a long list of names for Jesus. There was always one name in the list that confused me. There was one which stood out as unusual, and it seemed to me contradictory. The Son of Man seems to me to imply that Jesus was indeed born of man, and like many kids I was told that it was just a figure of speech, or, that he meant something else by it. I let it go and forgot about it, only really remembering the question had ever arisen when it again came to mind. I have been looking at a book called “The Jews in the time of Jesus” by Stephen M. Wylen and there is actually some research on the term “the son of man” or, in the Aramaic, bar nash. The research tends to give us three main answers for what the term can be used for. The rough translation of the most common usage of it is, I, or myself, or me. The term is used to indicate speaking about oneself. The second term is human being, person, and the last is divine, Lord, and God. All of these different definitions make the gospel no less confusing. I looked through some of the scriptures in which the term, “the son of man” could be found and was struck by the passage in Mark chapter 2:23-28:
Lord of the Sabbath
23One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
25He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."
27Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
In this passage it seems very easy to read the phrase in three different ways and therefore read the entire story in two different ways. The first way, and the way I read it in church when I was informed that The Son of Man is a term for Jesus, is to interpret Jesus as the lord of the Sabbath because he is divine. This means that Jesus sets up his authority over all people, and even makes his own rule above that of the law scholars and priests. The second way to read it is to read it as I, or me. This way creates a more strict line of authority to Jesus personally. He would therefore be the lord of the Sabbath and that would make him God and since He is God, then he is the truest authority on the matter and the Pharisees better watch out. The third reading of the is that Jesus used the term bar nash to refer to humankind, thus giving all men lordship over the Sabbath for all time.
So, after my reading, the term, it seems to me, was intended to be somewhat ambiguous. Jesus did speak in parables to his Disciples and he was known to make a scene in public places.
But, enough of my assumptions and conjecture.
What is your take on it? How do you view the term “The son of Man” in this passage? Is Jesus proclaiming himself lord of the Sabbath? Is he granting people the power to create their own set of rules for the Sabbath, or, is he taking the personal rout making himself the mortal lord of Sabbath to be treated as though it were a day dedicated to him?