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The Son Of Man Came To Serve

Andy Yung

John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Philip found Nathanael and told him about Jesus, but his immediate response was “Can anything good come from there (Nazareth)?” And what was Jesus’ response to Nathanael? He said, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” Jesus complimented him.

Nazareth was southwest of the Sea of Galilee, and a very small community, probably less than 500 people during Jesus' lifetime. It was located north of Jerusalem, well beyond Samaria. Being so small, and not adjacent to major cities, it was the last place one would expect anything interesting to happen. Calling someone a "Nazarene" would have been like referring to them as a "bumpkin," or even a "hillbilly." (BibleRef)

When Nathanael declared that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus responded that He was the Son of Man. What’s the difference between the phrases ‘Son of God’ and the ‘Son of Man’?

The phrase ‘Son of God’ was used to refer to Jesus Christ’s deity, and ‘Son of Man’ was used to refer to his humanity. He is both divine and human.

The phrase ‘Son of God’ does NOT mean that Jesus was an offspring of God, but that he is God. This is further explained in John 10:30-36. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), meaning He is the Father, and the Father is him. The Jews obviously regarded it as claiming deity, for they wanted to stone him for that, “'We are not stoning you for any good work,' they replied, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'” (John 10:33)

The phrase ‘Son of Man’ is a title Jesus used more often to describe himself. The phrase has a double meaning if we explore it more closely. ‘Son of Man’ wasn’t only an ordinary phrase for a human being. It was also a claim as the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14), and a very exalted role too (Daniel 7).

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

Whatever the phrase used, Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah was not in doubt. But the Jews had expected a physical king who would dispel the Romans and establish a physical kingdom. We can’t really blame them for having that expectation. If we’ve been oppressed for centuries under different foreign empires and longed for deliverance, we’ll probably have the same interpretation after reading Daniel 7 and some other prophecies of the Messiah too.

Yet the Old Testament also presented prophecies of a Messiah that would be betrayed (Zechariah 11:12-13), suffered (Isaiah 53:4-6) and pierced for us (Psalm 22). We have the advantage of hindsight, to see how Jesus was able to fulfil both the “glorious” and “suffering” prophecies. He did conquer, free his people from slavery and set up his kingdom. But it was death he conquered, it was slavery to sin that he freed us from, and the eternal kingdom he has set up is the church. He died on the cross so that we could have the victory.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He is not the type of king that people desire. Remember the time when the Israelites wanted a king like the other nations during the era of the Judges? That was never the will of God. God has always wanted to be our King in spirit, to be the King of our heart so that we can find our way HOME, to Heaven.

Jesus is my loving and humble God.

Man desires great titles and respect that commensurate with the titles. But Jesus showed even with the title of the Messiah, that he had come to serve. We are called to serve in God’s kingdom regardless of titles. I want to serve, and to help others to know God better, because that was what Jesus did.

Andy Yung

Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.

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