"Son of man" is a title Christ has in special connection with mankind; as either the rejected sufferer at the hands of mankind and on behalf of mankind as the one who assumes the responsibilities of the whole human race, or as exalted heir and head of all that God has purposed for mankind. The Old Testament spoke of a coming "Son of Man" that would reign over all creation and have an everlasting kingdom (Psalm 8:4-8; Daniel 7:13-14). But "Son of man" is a title Christ took in rejection as well as in glorification. The connection between the suffering and glory of the Son of man is beautiful.In the gospels, we find Jesus taking the title “Son of man” when He is rejected by Israel as “Son of David” (see Matt. 8:20; Mark 8:31; John 3:14). It is often used in contrast to the title of “Christ” or “Son of David” (see John 12). It is as Son of man that Jesus was “lifted up” in death (John 8:28; 12:34). Often when the title is used, it reveals that God is working in a wider sphere than with just the nation of Israel. For instance, He would say to the Jews, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53). He shows, in saying that they must have to do with the death of the Son of man, that the Jews can only be saved on the same ground as all mankind.
Related: Son of David
The Son of Man.
In John 5 we find that all judgment has been committed to the Son, “because He is the Son of man” (John 5:27). It was His grace in becoming man (Phil. 2:6, 7) to save men which made our Lord vulnerable to rejection. For this reason, He alone will be the judge of men. “Son of man” is the Lord’s title in rejection, and it will be the title under which He comes again in power and glory. It will be as “Son of man” that Jesus takes His place as head of creation, at which time the curse will be removed (Psa. 8). As Son of Man He deals with Man’s deepest need, and as Son of Man He will usher the Millennial earth into a scene of blessing. Hence, speaking of His appearing, Jesus said, “ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). Whenever scripture speaks about the coming of the Son of man, it refers to the appearing of Christ, when He will return in judgment. The Church is not to be looking for judgment, and therefore the title “Son of man” is not used in the epistles! Nevertheless, the truth of Christ’s glory as Son of man is unfolded in Heb. 2 and 1 Cor. 15, although the title is not used, except in quotation from the Psalms (see Heb. 2:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:27).
Generally, “Son of man” has to do with the suffering of Christ at His first coming, and the glory of Christ at His second coming. Note: Ezekiel and Daniel were both called “son of man”, but they never called themselves by that title. On the other hand, Christ was never called “Son of man” by anyone but Himself! It was a place He took in rejection, and it is a place He soon will take in glory.
Lord, what is man? ‘Tis He who died
And all Thy nature glorified;
Thy righteousness and grace displayed
When He for sin atonement made;
Obedient unto death, was slain —
Worthy is He o’er all to reign.
Thy counsels ‘ere the world began,
All centered in the Son of man;
Him destined to the highest place,
Head of His church through sovereign grace
To Him enthroned in majesty,
Let every creature bend the knee.
Worthy, O Son of man, art Thou
Of every crown that decks Thy brow;
Worthy art Thou to be adored,
And owned as universal Lord;
O, hasten that long-promised day,
When all shall own Thy rightful sway!1