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WHO IS THIS SON OF MAN?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, December 21, 2008
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).


Someone once reacted to one of my sermons and wrote the following note to me,

I want to know, where does it say that other religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism will not save you, or will not bring you to heaven after death? Where does the Bible say only Christianity will save you? Isn’t Christianity about tolerating different things, such as religion, people, etc.?

I will answer the last sentence first. Yes, true Christianity tolerates other religions. But what does the word “tolerate” mean? It means “permit” or “allow.” Protestant and Baptist Christianity has the best record of any world religion in permitting and allowing others to practice different beliefs. In his book Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization (Zondervan, 2001), sociologist Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt shows that the liberties and rights we take for granted in the Western world “are to a great degree the result of Christian influence” (ibid., p. 248). But while Christians “permit” and “allow” others to practice their beliefs, we believe that salvation from sin comes only through Jesus Christ.

The person who wrote me that note asked, “Where does it say that other religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism will not save you…Where does the Bible say only Christianity will save you?” I answered by saying that I never meant “Christianity” will save you. I said, “Jesus is the only Saviour.” It is this person who is the Saviour of mankind. Then I gave that critic who wrote to me a couple of verses in the Bible that say this. For instance, Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

The Apostle Peter said,

“This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).

Those Bible verses upset some people today. But the question they should ask themselves is this – is it true or false? Is Jesus Christ the Saviour of the human race or not? To answer those questions we must find out what the Bible says about Him.

Our Bible reading this morning was from the twelfth chapter of John. In this passage of Scripture Jesus told the people that He would be lifted up on the Cross to die. Many of them already believed that He was the Christ, the Messiah. But they thought the Messiah would never die. They had read certain parts of the Old Testament that prophesied His eternal reign, like Isaiah 9:7. But they failed to remember other prophetic passages in the Old Testament that foretold His suffering and death for man’s sin, such as Isaiah 53, where the prophet said,

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

They also failed to remember what David wrote a thousand years earlier,

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?...they pierced my hands and my feet…They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:1, 16, 18).

They didn’t think of the words of the prophet Zechariah either, given nearly five hundred years before Christ’s birth:

“They shall look upon me whom they have pierced”
      (Zechariah 12:10).

They only thought about the prophecies of His eternal kingdom. And so they said,

“We have heard out of the law [the Old Testament] that Christ [the Messiah] abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).

Who is this Son of man? That is the main question facing every man and woman in the world today, and everyone in this room. The message of the New Testament centers on that point. This is Jesus’ favorite name for Himself. He called Himself “the Son of man” eighty-three times in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Let us think about the meaning of this term.

“Who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).

I. First, it means He is a real man.

Many people think that Jesus is a spirit. Some people even think that He is the Holy Spirit. But they are wrong. Christ is not a spirit. The true meaning of Christmas is found in the word “incarnation.” It means God the Son was “clothed in human flesh” at His birth. The Bible says,

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

As a famous Christmas carol puts it,

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,
O come let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
   (“O Come, All Ye Faithful” translated by Frederick Oakley, 1802-1880).

Or, as Charles Wesley put it in his Christmas carol,

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
   Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
   Jesus, our Emmanuel,
Hark, the herald angels sing,
   “Glory to the newborn King.”
(“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Dr. William G. T. Shedd, the great theologian, said,

Christ was born and died, hungered and thirsted, grew from infancy to childhood and manhood, was subjected to the alternations of pleasure and pain, was tempted and struggled with temptation – in short, had all the experiences of man excepting those which involve sin (W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, P and R Publishing, 2003 reprint, p. 646).

Furthermore, when Christ rose from the dead, He was not a spirit. His flesh and bones rose from the grave. The resurrected Christ said,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

This same flesh and bone resurrected Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9), and “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Even now “this same Jesus” is “at [the Father’s] own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20).

“Who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).

He is a real flesh and bone resurrected man.

II. Second, it means He is God the Son.

Dr. Henry Thiessen pointed out that the term “Son of man” often denotes His deity.

For instance, it is as the Son of man that He has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6), to interpret the Sabbath law (Matt. 12:8), and to execute judgment (John 5:27). It is as Son of man that He gives his life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28); that He will send His angels to gather out the tares (Matt. 13:41); that He will sit upon the throne of His glory (Matt. 19:28; 25:31); that He will come again (Matt. 24:24; 26:64). Surely, it is not too much to say that the term [Son of man] denotes deity in these references (Henry C. Thiessen, Ph.D., Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1971 reprint, p.141).

Jesus said, “The Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory” (Matthew 19:28).

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (I John 5:7).

The Son of man is God the Son!

The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was raised as a Protestant, but became a Catholic and, finally, a Deist, who rejected the deity of Christ. Even though he was not a Christian in any orthodox sense, he knew that Christ was unique among men. Rousseau said, “If Socrates lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus lived and died like a god.”

“Who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).

He is God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity!

III. Third, it means He is the one who atones for sin.

Jesus said,

“The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins”
      (Matthew 9:6).

He also said,

“This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

When Christ died on the Cross, He paid the full penalty for human sin. When He died, He said,

“It is finished” (John 19:30).

What did He mean? He meant that the entire work of salvation was finished. There is nothing you can add to it. You either come to Christ and are saved from judgment for sin – or you do not come to Him, and remain unsaved from sin. Your eternal destiny depends on whether God gives you the grace to come to Christ and be saved.

And that’s why Jesus upsets people – even today. You see, all the religions of the world teach that you must do something to be saved. But Jesus says, “no.” He is God the Son. He alone could pay the penalty – and He did – on the Cross. It is a core teaching of the New Testament. Only Christ could pay the penalty for your sin – because only Christ was the Son of man, God the Son in human flesh, paying the price for your sin on the Cross. And that is why He said,

“No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

“Who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).

The famous Oxford University professor C. S. Lewis said,

Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about Him being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to (C. S. Lewis, Ph.D., Mere Christianity, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1952, pp. 40-41).

“Who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).

He is Jesus. God the Father sent Him to earth to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He rose physically from the dead and is alive right now, in another dimension, in “the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20). What will you do with Him? Will you come to Him – or will you reject Him? Will you be saved by Him – or will you be lost in sin for ever? We are praying that you will come to Jesus and be washed clean from your sins by His Blood. That is the way to be pardoned for your sin. That is the way to have eternal life. Come to Christ and you will be saved for all time and all eternity! Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 12:31-36.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I’d Rather Have Jesus” (words by Rhea F. Miller, 1922;
music composed by George Beverly Shea, 1909-)/
“Acres of Diamonds” (by Arthur Smith, 1959).


THE OUTLINE OF

WHO IS THIS SON OF MAN?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?” (John 12:34).

(John 14:6; Acts 4:11-12; cf. Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 53:5;
Psalm 22:1, 16, 18; Zechariah 12:10)

I.   First, He is a real man, John 1:14; Luke 24:39; Acts 1:9, 11;
Ephesians 1:20.

II.  Second, He is God the Son, Matthew 9:6; 12:8; John 5:27;
Matthew 20:28; 13:41; 19:28; 25:31; 24:44; 26:64; I John 5:7.

III. Third, He is the one who atones for sin, Matthew 9:6; 26:28;
John 19:30; 14:6; Ephesians 1:20.