Son of Man
Last Sunday of the Church Year
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” [Mark 13:24-27]
This is the last Sunday of the Church year. This is the time when we reflect, not only on the past, but also on what is to come. This last day of the Church calendar can be viewed in two ways. The first is one of foreboding as indicated in our scripture readings as the Word speaks to the end of times. The second view is toward renewal as we move toward the celebration of Christ’s entrance into the world through his birth as a human being; or, as a son of man.
In both instances, Jesus Christ and his work is the focus, which is appropriate since he was in the beginning of creation and is at the end of times, being both the Alpha and Omega. We confess that Christ is truly God and truly man and therefore the Son of the Father and the Son of Man. Yet is there more to this title of ‘Son of Man’?
David writes, in the eighth psalm:
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?” [Psalm 8:3-4]
Here David speaks of all human kind created in the beginning with the first man, Adam. Psalm 80 verse 17 says:
“Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.” [Psalm 80:17]
Here the psalmist is appealing to God to fulfill His promise of sending a redeemer to save His people Israel. They knew their salvation would come in the form of a human being bringing God’s reign to earth and therefore they prayed, just as we do today, ‘Come Immanuel. Let God be with us’
This ‘Son of Man’ was to be the second Adam. As Adam was perfect and God pleasing in the Garden of Eden, before the fall of all human kind into sin, Jesus Christ would be the second perfect man who would restore all people to righteousness.
The people of Israel knew God’s promise was true and would be fulfilled, yet it had not come. God spoke through the prophets before Christ, commanding them to tell His people to turn away from the idols & gods of the world and return to Him. God even gave His prophets a view of the end of Satan’s rule. Daniel writes:
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him. [Daniel 7:13]
This is Christ coming to earth to judge all people. Daniel saw the Son of Man with all authority & power in heaven and on earth descending from heaven on the Last Day.
This same Son of Man was revealed to St. John in his vision:
‘Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow … And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”’ [Revelation 1:12-18]
Jesus Christ, in the form of a man, in the form of a perfect man, the second Adam, comes triumphant on that Last Day. He comes in judgment, which in and of itself is a terrifying vision for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Yet he also comes as our Redeemer, our Salvation manifest. He says, “Do not be afraid… I am he who lives and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” In the awesome power and glory of God, our Lord speaks to us with words of comfort, “Do not be afraid” and he gives us his promise of the resurrection.
This is the same Jesus Christ who came down from heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary and made man. He became truly man – a human being – a son of man. As a human being, he lived as the perfect man following God’s will and fulfilling the Law of God completely without fault. He had all authority and power of God over creation. He lived without sin. He forgave sin. He healed the sick and he raised the dead. He did what only God can do.
When Lazarus, the brother of Martha, had died, Jesus came to her home. She said:
“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” [John 11:21]
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” [John 11:25-27]
When the widow of Nain wept over her only son who lain dead at the city gates, the Son of Man commanded the young man to arise from death. [Luke 7:11] Fear came upon all the people and they glorified God, saying, “God has visited His people” [Luke 7:16] Finally, when Christ died on the cross, as a son of man:
“…the earth quaked, rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”[Matthew 27:52-53]
The raising of the dead by the power of Jesus Christ was a foreshadowing of what is to come for all who die in the body of Christ. The hand of God is almighty and Jesus Christ has dominion over death and the grave. He was dead, and behold, he is alive forevermore.
Yes, the Day of Our Lord will be terrifying to all the sons of men. All of human kind will bend their knee and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Those who have not believed in the salvation of the Son of God will suffer the condemnation of eternal separation from God Almighty. Yet those who are baptized will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Those who believe that Christ is the Son of God, who has come into the world, will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
The question now comes to you. Who is this Son of Man? Who is the babe born of the Virgin Mary? Is he your Redeemer? Do you confess before God and man that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?
We prepare for the celebration of the birth of Our Lord, the advent of our King. We hold, in our hearts, our minds and our very souls the knowledge, revealed through scriptures, that child born into the fallen human race, to be our God.
Every year, as Christians, we remember and confess the birth of our Lord and Savior. We believe the infant in swaddling clothes to be the Son of God born as a son of man. He is the perfect man, the second Adam, to come into this creation. Yet unlike the first Adam, Jesus Christ does not falter and he does not fail. He holds the keys to Hades and death. He defeats the great serpent and casts him away from us forever.
Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, comes to us in our poverty to be the final sacrifice for our sin; he makes us righteous before God. On the Last Day, we will stand in robes white as wool, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore, we believe in the Son of Man. We believe the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us as our Savior. We take comfort that the weak and frail baby, born into the world as a son of man is also the Son of God who brings us life everlasting. It is he to whom we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus.’
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. [Jude 24-25]