Son of God, Son of Man, King of Israel

JP: Good read from Desiring God.

Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:49-51)

Son of God, Son of Man, King of Israel

The first chapter of John’s Gospel alone gives 10 titles for Jesus. Verses 49-51 provide the last 3: “Son of God,” “King of Israel,” and “Son of Man.”

“Son of God” and “King of Israel” go together. Because of 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2, many Jews in Jesus’ day expected the coming “King of Israel” to be known as God’s son. But the Old Testament had more to say than just this. Isaiah 9 prophesied that this “Messiah” would not only be king and son but also “the Mighty God.”

Similarly with “Son of Man.” Psalm 8 and the prophecies of Ezekiel cast “son of man” as a lowly and unassuming term for humanity. But again there was more to say. Daniel 7 refers to “one like a son of man” who comes on the clouds and is given dominion over all people.

So Jesus takes the first-century expectations of the titles “Son of God” and “Son of Man” and “King of Israel” and fills them with biblical meaning. And in doing so, he raises the ire of the Jewish leaders and helps to bring about his own execution—an execution which he gladly pursued and embraced to save and to demonstrate his love for his people.