15 May 2024

The implications of being the Son of Man.

John 5.24-29.

On occasion I’ll hear some Christian preacher claim that Jesus referring to God as “Father”—whether he’s talking about God as his Father, or God as our Father—was a wholly unique thing in history; that somehow the Jews had never before imagined God as their Father. It’s not true—

Deuteronomy 32.6 KJV
Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
Psalm 89.26 KJV
He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
Isaiah 63.16 KJV
Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.
Isaiah 64.8 KJV
But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Malachi 1.6 KJV
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

—but man do preachers like to claim it.

Anyway, Jesus regularly refers to God as our Father, and specifically his Father… but whereas we humans are just creations and adoptive children of our heavenly Father, Jesus is something significantly different. He’s the Son of God. And no, not just “Son of God” in the sense we see in Psalm 2, where the king of Israel is especially adopted by God as his son, and therefore “Son of God” is just a royal title like Messiah. Nope; in the trinity there’s a Father and Son, and the Son became human, and that’s Jesus of Nazareth. He’s fully God same as his Father is fully God.

In John chapter 5, Jesus explains some of that idea. And it’s a doozy of an idea. Pretty sure it broke the brains of most of the Judeans he said it to. Because Jesus is making some pretty cosmic declarations about himself. He already said in the last bit the Father shows the Son everything he does, Jn 5.20 the Son’s gonna raise the dead, Jn 5.21 the Son’s gonna judge the world, Jn 5.22 and you’d better recognize the Son’s authority if you respect the Father. Jn 5.23

Oh, and at the End, the coming in the clouds of the Son of Man? Da 7.13 That’s Jesus. He’s the Son of Man. Did you not notice he constantly calls himself “the Son of Man”? He doesn’t do it to remind people he’s human; anybody who looked at him could tell he was human. He does it to remind people he’s that guy. The guy who does all this:

John 5.24-29 KWL
24 “Amen amen! I promise you the one who hears my word,
and trusts the One who sends me,
has life in the age to come
and doesn’t go into judgment.
Instead they passed from death into life.
25 Amen amen! I promise you the hour comes, and it’s now,
when the dead will hear God’s Son’s voice,
and those who will hear it, will live.
26 For just as the Father has life in himself,
likewise he gives life to the Son to have in himself.
27 The Father gives the Son power to make judgments,
because he’s the Son of Man.
28 Don’t be amazed by this, because the hour comes
in which everyone in the sepulchers
will hear the Son of Man’s voice
29 and come out—
those who do good, into resurrection life;
those who do little, into resurrection judgment.”

You realize this discussion started because some people got bent out of shape over Jesus curing the sick on sabbath. And people think I go off on tangents. Jesus went from, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” Jn 5.17 KJV to “Oh and just to remind you, I’m the Son of Man.”

It’s weird how various pagans will insist Jesus was only a great moral teacher and nothing more, when Jesus straight-up tells people he’s going to raise the dead, judge humanity, and rule the world. And people don’t dismiss him as a demonized madman and stone him to death, because he just cured a guy who was unable to walk for 38 years, and demonized guys can’t do that. The only ones who can do that, outside of hospitals, were empowered by God—and for all you know, might actually be the great End Times figure whose everlasting kingdom shall not be destroyed. Da 7.14

Okay, there’s some End Times stuff here.

Like I said, the Son of Man is an End Times figure, and Daniel doesn’t give us an awful lot of detail about him, other than that he rules the world.

Daniel 7.13-14 KJV
13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Daniel was having apocalyptic visions, meaning they’re about his future, but they’re not literally his future; they’re creatures and people and scenes and actions which are like the future. God wanted him to know what the future was like; he didn’t want him to know it literally. Because he doesn’t want us to know it literally. We have more important things to do than constantly agitate and fret about the End. We have neighbors to love, and the gospel to share with ’em.

Daniel only knew that little bit about the Son of Man. Whereas Jesus, who is the Son of Man, obviously knows everything there is to know about it. He’s fully aware about what is job is. Here, he lets us in on some of it: The Father has put him in charge of judgment, of life, and of resurrection.

Here, Jesus makes it clear everybody gets resurrected. “Everyone in the sepulchers will hear the Son of Man’s voice,” he states Jn 5.28 —not just the Christians, though we’re getting raised first. 1Th 4.16 Everyone’s coming out. Jesus has the keys to death and the afterlife, Rv 1.18 and he’s emptying them because he wants everybody to be alive for the End.

But not everybody’s going into God’s kingdom. That’s for “those who do good.” Jn 5.29

Now yeah, some people read this passage and think, “Wait, is Jesus saying we’re going into his kingdom based on good deeds? On works? On karma? I thought we were saved by faith!” So lemme straighten those folks out for a moment: No we’re not saved by good deeds, good works, good karma, nor faith. (We’re justified by faith; we’re not saved by it.) We’re saved by grace. Only grace.

And the fruit of those saved by grace… is goodness. If you’ve turned to Jesus, if he’s sealed you with his Holy Spirit, you oughta be doing the good works God set out for us. Ep 2.10 If you’re not, repent!

This is why “good works” in the gospels is kind of a shorthand for saved people. It’s not what we’re saved by; it’s what saved people do. Now that God’s saved us, destroyed sin and death for us, and we no longer have to worry about those things, we oughta be busy developing good fruit and loving people and proclaiming good news. If you’re not doing any of those things, yet somehow think you’re saved regardless, I got news for you: Jesus doesn’t know you. Mt 7.23 And you’re gonna want to rectify that.

Notice Jesus contrasts “those who do good” with “those who do little.” Jn 5.29 In the King James Version that’s translated “they that have done evil,” but φαῦλα/fávla doesn’t actually mean “evil.” I mean it can… but more often it means “cheap, easy, slight, paltry, simple, ordinary, low, mean, common, careless, thoughtless, indifferent, simple.” Really it means people who do nothing. They’re just going through life, going through the motions, maybe even thinking they’re Christian and saved, but they produce no fruit, good or evil. They’re lukewarm.

These are the people who undergo the ἀνάστασιν κρίσεως/anástasin kríseos, “resurrection of judgment.” Jn 5.29 They’re judged for not giving a crap about the things of God, so it stands to reason there’s no place for them in his kingdom.

There are a lot of people, Christians included, who clearly aren’t concerned about the things of God, nor the coming of the Son of Man. We can see this in their fleshly “fruit,” their irreligious behavior, their pursuit of political power and money instead of surrender to Jesus. They might imagine grace means they never actually had to follow Jesus, but they’re dangerously wrong about that. More than once Jesus and the apostles warn such people to stop just standing around, and follow him. Those who follow him are the ones he never judges, Jn 5.24 and never needs to. Get into that group.