What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)
Who is the son of man? The Hebrew phrase is ben adam. Jesus used this phrase for Himself over 80 times in the Gospels. He shows how small and insignificant is man, and Himself in the form of a man, when some asked about following Him.
Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
And Jesus said to him, ”Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:18-20 ESV; see also Luke 9:58)
There are two places in the Psalms where this phrase is used, Psalm 8:4 and Psalm 80:17. Ezekiel uses the phrase “Son of Man” almost 90 times to refer to himself and his prophetic office. Daniel uses the phrase twice, referring to future accomplished events that precede the end of time. Jesus, being the author of Scripture, uses the phrase to establish His place before God and the people He created in His image, as their authority.
Jesus, on numerous occasions, foretold the truth of His coming death and resurrection at the hands of men. God is mindful, which means to recall, remember and think upon and to record, of all humanity in rebellion against Him. The juxtaposition and comparison of those who rebel against God with the one blessed Man of Psalm 1:1, is stark. Only one Man has ever and will ever do righteousness inherent to His image. All others are in rebellion against He who created them for Himself. Jesus came to redeem and recreate those who are His, fitting them for eternity. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ESV). He accomplished this by offering Himself as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus told His disciples plainly what was to happen and why He would suffer.
As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. (Matthew 17:22-23 ESV; see also Luke 9:22, Mark 9:31 and 10:33)
God sent the Son of Man, His Son, to reign over His creation. Those created in the image of God, created for relationship yet rebelling against God, will ultimately acknowledge His authority and the truth of who Jesus is because of the evidence of His life. That evidence is His rule and reign. “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession’” (Psalm 2:7-8 ESV). Those who rebel against God will intimately and intellectually know Jesus is God’s Son once they have “lifted up the Son of Man” (John 8:28 ESV). Jesus redeemed those who are His by taking upon Himself the sin of the world when He shed His blood. He covered them with His blood giving His righteousness. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).
Though all people deserve death and eternal separation from God because of sin and rebellion, God chose, because of His love, to remember people. He desires relationship with all people and has made a way for all to intimately know Him. Not all people take advantage of God’s grace and are separated from Him. God offered His grace to all in the most intimate way by sending His Son, who set aside all of the privilege and authority of the Godhead, for a moment in time, in the likeness of sinful man. Jesus was not sinful but took upon Himself the guise of the flesh while retaining that which makes God, God (see Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus is fully God and fully man, the way God intended man, which is as a servant not a rebel. He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man.