Reflections on the Christmas Child: Messiah and Son of Man

Reflections on the Christmas Child: Messiah and Son of Man December 4, 2023

Picture with the Title "Reflections on the Christmas Child: Messiah and Son of Man"

The Christmas Child

“You have said so. But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” – Matthew 26: 64

This was Jesus’ response to the courtroom of the Sanhedren and Chief Priests. In response, they would tear their garments and wail. False evidence was thrown together in order put Jesus to death. Witnesses baring false (and uncorroborating) testimony were brought forward. But no one could live up to nor hold up the accusations of the Sanhedren. Finally the time had come for what everyone had been attempting to accuse Jesus of claiming for Himself to be brought to life. It was time to be done with beating around the bush. “Are You the Messiah?” (Matt 26: 63b paraphrased), they asked.

 

Are you the annointed one of God?

 

Let’s Start Over

In the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel we see a long geneology tracing Jesus’ line through Joseph, the man who would courageously betroth Mary, all the way back to David, and yet further to Abraham. Matthew purposely does this as he is writing to a particularly Jewish audience, hence the prophecies that are scattered throughout His account. Though the geneology is deliberately placed at the the beginning of His Gospel to make a point, it doesn’t make neither the geneology nor the point any less valid. Oral cultures (as was 1st century Israel and the rest of the Mediterranean) lived and died by recounting family lines and tracing history verbally. Matthew’s geneology is a safe one.

So there’s a geneology… What is the point? The promise to Abraham made by Yahweh in the desert plains about being a blessing to all nations had come to pass. Abraham’s family line would be a blessing to both Jews and Gentiles alike. God’s Kingdom would be open to all. And who would this Kingdom be ruled by? Who would this promise be governed and fulfilled by?

King David’s descendant and heir.

 

Jesus, the one who would fulfill the promise to Abraham, was born. This babe would be given gifts by wise men, would be brought to Egypt in order to escape Herod’s murderous plan, would  draw men and women from all walks of life to Himself and would preach of a Kingdom that is not of this world that would last for forever. This baby, Jesus, who would be called or described as “God With Us” by the prophet Isaiah (and, of course, Matthew), claimed titles upon Himself that caused the Sanhedren to gnash at him.

So You Say…

It can sometimes be difficult to think of these 2 titles of Jesus clashing together. Jesus claims to be the Messiah, and the Son of Man. The annointed King of Israel who would be born in Bethlehem, be born of a virgin, ride into Jersualem victoriously on a colt and who have a kingdom that would have no end is exactly who Jesus claimed to be in this moment. And yet, Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man. In fact, this seems to be Jesus’ favorite title for Himself. Between the 4 biographies of Jesus, He calls Himself the “Son of Man” a whopping 80 times. Who is this Son of Man that he refers to? Here is the description.

13I continued watching in the night visions,

and suddenly one like a son of man

was coming with the clouds of heaven.

He approached the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before him.

14He was given dominion

and glory and a kingdom,
so that those of every people,

nation, and language

should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that will not pass away,
and his kingdom is one
that will not be destroyed. – Daniel 7: 13-14
Talk about a description. Imagine the drama in the courtroom scene.

The Weight

The weight of what Jesus is claiming here is immense. He is not merely claiming to be any ole’ annointed King who would come and die like everyone else. He is claiming to be of a heavenly kingdom. To sit at the right hand of God, to be given authority over all and to be served by all is what he claims. And this Son of Man at the same time is David’s descendant, the fulfiller of the promises of Abraham, and the blessing for all of nations whose kingdom would never be destroyed.

 

No wonder the Sanhedren were upset.

Reflection

As we sit around our living rooms, or engage in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season, the thought of Jesus being anything but a tiny baby in a manger may be far from our minds. But as we celebrate the birth of this baby. Let us remember that he is our King. He is our Lord. Jesus is the Son of Man. He is God with Us. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. And He is our friend.

Jesus, not so much a baby in that courtroom, had us all in mind, knowing that any answer He gave would lead to His death and ultimately His resurrection. It is because of His bold poclomation of His identity as Messiah and Son of Man that leads to our hope for a future.

Let us remember that this baby wrapped and placed in a manger, with humble beginnings is the Son of Man who is given dominion and authority over all things.

 

 

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