Before Abraham came to be, I AM.

We often hear of Jesus that he is the ‘Son of Man’ and the ‘Son of God’ but how often those phrases are heard without truly understanding their meaning. In fact, the phrases are most often understood to mean quite the opposite of their true construct. The ‘Son of Man’ was generally thought to be a “heavenly savior figure whose enthronement represents the establishment of God’s kingdom. ‘Son of Man was not used for Jesus’ humanity in contrast to the expression ‘Son of God’. For a first-century Jewish audience the phrase ‘Son of God’ was used in reference to such human figures as the king (Ps 2:7; Isa 9:6), Israel as God’s people (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1), or of persons who were particularly wise or righteous (Wis 2:13, 16). Angels may also be referred to as ‘sons of God’ (Ps 89:7; Dan 3:25) [Pheme Perkins, Reading the New Testament].

The Glory of the Son of Man

The Glory of the Son of Man

Jesus often referred to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ and while, at first blush, this may appear to lay claim to his humanity, with new understanding of the title we now can see that rather than denying his deity he was quite openly proclaiming it. Looking at this with new eyes we hear his voice in a new and novel way. When he asks his disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is? They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’” [Mt 16:13-15] what do you now hear? How would you respond to Jesus’ question “But who do you say that I am?

Jesus didn’t always refer to his deity obliquely; he didn’t just claim to be the ‘Son of Man’. In one particular instance he was quite direct. In response to the question posed by the Jews in the temple “Who do you make yourself out to be? Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM” [Jn 8:53-58]. It is small wonder that the Jews wished to stone him! He boldly and directly called himself God using the name of God, the name God gave to Moses אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, ʾehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh.

We can now understand more fully the reaction of the high priest when he asked Jesus if he was the Messiah, the Son of God and he replied “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” [Mt 26:64]. The high priest asked if Jesus was the anointed one, a king; Jesus responded unequivocally that he was more than the ‘Son of God’. He proclaimed that he was the ‘Son of Man’, that he was God.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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