Who is the Son of Man

By Lloyd Ellefson

Jesus called Himself the Son of Man. The expression, Son of Man, is used 84 times in the gospels, once in Acts, once in Hebrews and twice in Revelation. It is extremely important to understand what is meant by the SON OF MAN, and how this affects us.

The scriptures speak of two men, and they are corporate men. There is an earthy man and a spiritual man. In 1 Cor. 15 Paul speaks of a spiritual body, and a soulish or soilish body. The spiritual body belongs to the spiritual man and the soulish or soilish to the earthy man. These men are images - images of God. One is an earthy image that is limited to earthy ideas about spiritual realities. It sees heaven and earth as places, Jesus as a man, God sitting on a white throne, and prophecies limited to having their fulfillment on earth. The spiritual image is led by the Spirit into truth!

Since Jesus continually referred to Himself as the Son of Man, there must be a great significance in this! Let's look at some of the things Jesus said, and then see our identification with the Son of Man in the earth. Jesus said that the Son of Man dispatches messengers or angels, sows the good seed, has authority on earth to forgive sin, and that the angels ascend and descend on Him. Furthermore, when Jesus sent out the twelve disciples He said, "You will not cover the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes."

We can learn to know who the Son of Man is by allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us. So here we go.

Jesus posed an important question to the man who had been healed of his blindness, and it is also an important one for us. He asked, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" The man asked, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus replied, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you." (Jn. 9:35-37) Here Jesus clearly states that He Himself is the Son of Man! We know that God is not a man, for it says, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent." (Nu. 23:19) The Son of Man is a manifestation of God through Jesus Christ. And that manifestation is continuing in the earth. If we understand this, we will identify with Christ, and see that we are the manifestation of Christ in the earth today.

Jesus said many things about the Son of Man. Here are some of the things He said, "What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?...For the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will...For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be...For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost...and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory...the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men...until the Son of Man has been raised from among the dead." (Jn.6:62;Matt.24:44,27; 18:11;24:30;17:22,9) Being raised from among the dead does not refer to those who are in the graves, but to those who are dead in Adam. Jesus also said, "...hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power..." (Matt. 26:64) Of course, we will be seated there too.

Notice that the Son of Man is a different man than the men into whose hands He would be delivered! So there are two different men, two different images of God, two different witnesses of God. Jesus said that the Son of Man would be killed and be raised on the third day.

Jesus IS the resurrection; He IS the Son of God! He didn't need to be raised from the dead; He didn't need to repent, He didn't need to be baptized by John, He didn't need to get the anointing. He did all these things to demonstrate what was going to happen to us, because He is our way back to the Father! So we have to experience the same things He did on our way to the Father.

Jesus said, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt.12:39) Like Jonah, the Son of Man is a sign to this generation. He was a sign because people could only see the body of Jesus Christ and the things He did, but they could not see the work of God in His Son. So He was a sign to this wicked and evil generation.

"And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven; the Son of Man." (Jn. 3:13) Later manuscripts add, "who is in heaven." In John 17:14 Jesus said, "...because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Jesus came down from heaven, not as a physical man, but in the realization that He was the Son of God. His testimony came out of heaven into the earth. He descended because the earth is always lower than the heavens.

He who is of the earth, testifies of earthy things. To have a heavenly testimony we need to be of heavenly descent. So when Jesus ascended, He took us with Him and gave us a heavenly testimony. Now we can bring a new or heavenly testimony into the world. In our identification with the Son of Man, we know that our new nature came down from heaven, and it remains in heaven even while we are testifying here on earth.

Jesus said, "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes." (Jn. 5:21) He gives them life! "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son!" And in v.27 it says, "And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man."

In His tabernacle of flesh, Jesus gave us a wonderful testimony of who God really is! Yet this testimony became a judgment upon humanity, because it doesn't believe who God really is. However, God's purpose for us is to know Him!

People want to know the identity of great men of God. John the Baptist was asked whether he was the Christ, Elijah or the Prophet. To each of these questions he said, "No!" People also had a lot of questions about Jesus. The question, "Who is the Son of Man?" has often been asked. Jesus Himself asked His disciples, "`Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, `Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.'" (Matt.16:13-14)

Jesus did not did not give direct answers to questions about Himself. He knew the people would not understand, because no one knows the Son except the Father. Only those can know Him to whom it has been revealed by the Father! Jesus was not in the habit of revealing Himself to man. Only the Father can reveal the Son to us! And only the Son can reveal the Father! This knowledge has to come to us spiritually. The Father's revelation of the Son comes to our spirit. The Son's revelation of the Father comes to us in the Spirit of Christ - in the anointing!

"He said to them, `But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, `You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' (vv.15-16) He is the Christ, He is the Son - the Son of the living God! He is not a dead God; He is a living God! In reference to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jesus said, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Let us understand that those who are dead in trespasses and sins are living in their carnal mind. Their understanding of God comes from their carnal mind, so they don't have a revelation of the true God.

"And Jesus said to him, `Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.'" (v.17) If we think Peter really understood this, we are mistaken. It wasn't long before he denied knowing Jesus! Peter had not been prepared for persecution; he hadn't gone through death and resurrection; nor had he been anointed as a new man. The old man cannot receive the things of the Spirit. That is why we need to experience death and resurrection and be raised into the life of the new man!

Only through the Holy Spirit's teaching can we come into the reality of the tremendous salvation God has accomplished! To understand it, we have to recognize our identification with the Son of Man. Just as the Son of Man was the only true witness of God when He was on earth, so we are now called to be true witnesses of God! This can only occur as we recognize that His corporate body on the earth, namely, the body of Christ, is the Son of Man.

It is interesting to note that Jesus told Peter that his name, Petros, meant stone. After Peter had been converted and had received the Holy Spirit, he taught that we are living stones, built up into a spiritual house. It's wonderful to see that, isn't it?!

"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." (v.18) The rock obviously refers to the Father's revelation of Jesus Christ! The gates of Hades have no power over Christ; they cannot shut out the Christ, the Son of Man!

Hell is a place of the unseen, in both the Old and New Testaments. Hades or hell is a place of darkness; it is an unseen realm. An old common expression, "to hell the potatoes" meant to cover the potatoes with dirt so they would be in an unseen realm. In symbolism, being in Hades or hell, means living in a place where people do not understand or see spiritually, because they are locked up in the prison of their own mind. From God's point of view, they are in the grave and cannot perceive the Spirit. So bad things happen to them. Since they do not have the realization that comes in the Holy Spirit, they need to be raised from the dead. After their eyes have been opened, they can recognize the lack of perception they had when they dwelt in Hades.

Jesus went on to say, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." (v.19) These keys were used by Peter at Pentecost when he spoke to the Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate . (Acts 2) After he was anointed by the Holy Spirit, he opened the kingdom of God to them through his message. This was the first message given by an anointed man on behalf of Christ.

Peter also opened the kingdom to the Gentiles after he had received a vision from God. In this vision God showed him that God had cleansed the Gentiles, and that he shouldn't call any man unclean! So he accepted the invitation to go to Cornelius's house. There he used the keys of the kingdom to open the kingdom to the Gentiles. However he did not always act according to this knowledge. Years later, Peter visited the Galatian Christians, mingled with them and ate with them, but after James sent some men from Jerusalem to check up on them, Peter withdrew from the Gentiles. This caused Paul to call Peter a hypocrite.

So often we are satisfied with the reasonings and assumptions of our human mind because we let our mind function as God in us. Many Bible students think they know God because they have read about Him in the Bible. They are satisfied with forgiveness. But God has more for us! Peter's experiences show us that we also have to experience more than forgiveness if we are to understand our place in the purposes of God. The progressive revelation of Christ is in effect today! It's just wonderful!

In Luke 18:31 we read, "Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, `Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.'" Everything that was written by the prophets about the Son of Man - that is to Jesus - was about to happen.

The Jews were looking for the prophesied Messiah who was to come and sit on the throne of David. And Moses said God would raise up a prophet like himself, and if they would not listen to him they would be cut off from the people. But the Jews could not get themselves to believe that Jesus was that man! Yet everything that was prophesied of Him, happened to Him! He was handed over to the Gentiles, He was mocked, mistreated and spit upon, He was scourged and killed! And He rose on the third day! (vv.32-33) These things have already been fulfilled and do not have to be fulfilled again. But some of them, like being mistreated and spit upon, continue to happen to the Son of Man or the Christ (the body of Christ) living in the earth today.

We need to understand that Jesus Christ demonstrated everything that happens to us. The Spirit of Christ gives us an identity with Christ. We are members of His body; we are one with Him and one with the Father! Since we are new creatures in Christ Jesus, we have to think of ourselves as being completely new! Paul said that external things, like circumcision or uncircumcision, have no bearing on who we are in Christ. The only thing that really matters is being a new creature! Our identification is not with sinners, but with Christ! We have been translated into God's kingdom; we are the Lord's Christ; we have been anointed and WE ARE NOW THE BODY OF CHRIST! We don't need a new body - we only need faith.

If we understand our identification with Christ, we can understand that God is continuing the mission of Christ on the earth through His body! We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. God gave it to Christ, and we are in the Christ. We have been baptized into the body of Christ, and have been given the ministry of reconciling people to God! Our ministry does not consist of getting people to live moral lives. Our hope does not consist of going to heaven and getting a new body. Our ministry is reconciliation, so that people can have an identity with Christ in the Father. They can be one with Him because they are a new creation. All things have become new! So we no longer portray the image of the Adamic man, but a new image in Christ! Only the Spirit can reveal to us what man really is.

In John 1:47-51 Jesus had a conversation with Nathanael. It ended with Jesus saying to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." At the Jordan the heavens were opened to Christ, and He saw heaven opened. In Rev. 11:19 it says that the temple of God which is in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple. After that, in chapter 12, a manchild is born, and this child is a corporate man. (I have a teaching on that. You may order it if you want it.) The Son of Man is the new man - and in Christ we are now the new man in the earth.

The keys of the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter, and heaven is now open to us. Since Jesus has disappeared from the earth, and the heavens are opened to us, the messengers (angels) of God are now ascending and descending on the new man who is in the earth. In other words, the spiritual messages of God are going back and forth to us through this Christ in the earth, and we become true witnesses. This occurs after we receive the promise of the Father, namely, the Holy Spirit. That is when we become witnesses of Christ. He gives us the messages He hears from the Father. So the Son of Man is operating in the earth today. If you have a problem identifying with Christ, you should pray about it. Heaven is shut to the carnal mind of man, but it is open to those who have the mind of Christ.

The messengers of God are ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. To further identify who He is, we must remember that He is a man - an image of God. He is not God, for God is not a man, neither is He an image of Himself. God is God, and everything that came out of God is in some respect an image or a representation of Himself. In man we have an earthy image of God, and in Christ we have a spiritual image of God. Our confession and witness depends on which image of God we are living in.

Jesus came with a spiritual image of the Father and Himself, but the Jews could not handle this. So they opposed Him! Jesus told them that they did not know God; they had not seen Him, they didn't believe Moses, etc. This proved to be true, for they killed Him. They were in a precarious situation, but so are we if we don't identify with Christ and His rejection, for then we will be satisfied with the state we are in. Instead of growing, we'll reject those who represent Christ and even persecute them.

Acts 1:5 throws more light on this subject. To His disciples, His called-out ones, Jesus said, "For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." At that time the disciples had not yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit.

"So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, `Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'" (v.6) The kingdom had been taken away from Israel. The spiritual rule of God can never be effective through natural humanity. It cannot be a true witness to spiritual things because natural humanity is locked up in its carnal mind - in its earthy sense of being. It can only produce an earthy image of God. This image has to be superseded by a spiritual image. We can only be put under the dominion of God after we have received His spiritual image by becoming a new creation.

The same thing that happened in Israel, is happening today. We have the world, the religious system, and those who are identified as God's Christ (the Son of Man) in the earth - but only the latter have a true witness. I am talking about the true witness that only comes about by the Holy Spirit, not about religious people, sensational preaching, and intellectual ideas about God.

"He said to them, `It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority...'" (v.7) This is hard for many to grasp. Christians want to know when certain events will take place in the future - in times and epochs - instead of trusting the Father to work all things for good in their lives.

In Christ's relationship with the Father, He knew His part and the Father's part! He said, "I can do nothing of Myself...It is the Father in Me who does the works." It is up to the Father to determine which works shall be manifested in each of us! Although we can all enjoy the same relationship with Him, we will not all do the same works. Those who do not perform miracles can have the same relationship with Christ as those who do. John the Baptist did what the Spirit wanted him to do, but he didn't do any miracles. The Father has the authority to prescribe the works each of us are to do! Our part is to fit in with His plan. It doesn't matter whether we are teachers, pastors, prophets, or if we don't fit into any of those categories.

The Spirit works all the ministries into a beautiful whole! The prophetic ministry tells us what has happened in Jesus Christ, what He has accomplished, and what we should get into. If you are not yet in it, it becomes a prophecy to you that you are to get into it. If you are not saved, it is a prophecy to you that you are to get saved. The prophetic ministry does not begin with, "Thus saith the Lord" or "I say unto thee". Jesus never spoke like that. He spoke out of His nature - of who He was in God.

In v.8 Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." The power we receive in the Holy Spirit is the power of subjection! It is not the power to do great things. Jesus said, "I can do nothing of Myself." To be conformed to the image of Christ, we have to have the same understanding He had. We are to be witnesses to Christ, not to ourselves. We have to quit equating ourselves with our office, like saying, "I am a pastor, I am a bishop, I am a prophet". We are not to draw attention to ourselves. We want to preach Christ - and this will get us into trouble just as it got Paul into trouble. Believe me!

"And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, `Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.'" (vv.9-11) Notice that two men testified to them - it does not say two angels.

The disciples saw Jesus being enveloped by a cloud - and the cloud symbolizes a cloud of witnesses! (Heb. 12:1) Since He comes back in the same way, He comes in a cloud of witnesses. These witnesses have physical bodies; they are people who bear true witness of who He is. The Son of Man is the fulfillment of the cloud of witnesses who testified of Him in the Old Testament, because He was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. The various stages of redemption symbolized by Noah, Moses, Elijah, etc., were fulfilled in Him. The Father's promise to give His Spirit to people would be fulfilled! This would enable them to be witnesses in Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest parts of the world!

This is the fulfillment of the Son of Man! He is one new man, a corporate man, into whom are placed both the circumcision and the uncircumcision, thus making peace! This new man is for a habitation of God in the Spirit! We are being built into a spiritual house! This helps us to see that Christ is a many-membered body. There is one body, but there are many members in the Christ!

This many-membered body is the Son of Man who is God's witness in the earth. He is now functioning in our earthly physical tabernacle that has been redeemed from ignorance, death, a wrong testimony, lust and evil. In being true witnesses, we do nothing on our own initiative, for it is Christ who tells us what to do!

The Son of Man is Christ's corporate expression in the earth. We, who are the Lord's Christ, are the continuing manifestation of Christ in the earth. Some are called upon to perform healings and miracles, while others are given other ministries. We need to understand that we are one body, all functioning for the good of the body. We still have a lot of growing to do.

Jesus was taken into heaven in the form of a man, and He is coming back in the same way. He went into the invisible and He came back into the visible. Jesus is bringing forth a witness that is greater than the one the people had in the Old Testament. Christ spoke through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, etc., but they did not have an identification with Christ. They had not gone through the conversion experience of death to life, that is from the Adam man to the spiritual man. So they could not be true witnesses of Christ in the earth like He was - and we now are!

Everything that these Old Testament saints represented in God's plan of redemption was fulfilled in Christ! Now it is being fulfilled in us because we are the Lord's Christ in the earth. We have not changed physically, but the body of truth and life that we are born into, has changed our ministry and our witness in the earth. Today we have the opportunity of confessing the same things Christ did. We are the body of Christ, we are His witness in the earth, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation - of reconciling men to God through Christ!

Jesus said, "As the Father has sent Me, so send I you." Isn't it exciting to know that we are sent to be witnesses just as Jesus Christ was sent?! Even though we are in our physical body, we are new creatures in Christ with a spiritual witness of God and self and earth and heaven - for all things have become new! This is the message of the gospel. This is exactly what is happening in the earth today! Jesus Christ was a manifested Son, wasn't He? He was a complete Son, manifested in the earth. Now we are manifesting that Son in the earth. On God's side we are the manifested sons that have the message. Does that mean that everyone we talk to will bow down to Christ? No, it didn't happen when He was here, and we, His servants, are not greater that our master.

God is adding those who should be added. He is calling out of the Gentiles a people for His name. Our mission is to bear witness of the Christ and to reconcile people to God. If we are misunderstood and rejected, we continue with our mission on earth. In our country we are not crucified physically, but people will try to stop our message from going forth! However, let us remember that the Son of Man is the good seed in the earth.

So again, consider what I say. Get your concordance and look up all these things about the Son of Man, and pray that in your identity with Him, you too might be the continuing mission of the Son of Man in the earth. We witness AS Him - not only about Him.

God bless you. Amen.

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