Summary: Jesus identifies with us in our human condition to accept, forgive, and heal us. A special sermon contribution from the SON OF GOD sermon packet for pastors, inspired by the SON OF GOD movie from Mark Burnett and distributed by 20th Century Fox.
You have probably heard it before.
It is a saying commonly attributed to Marie Antoinette, the Austrian princess who became queen of France after marrying Louis the Sixteenth. Legend says that when she was informed that her subjects, the French peasants, were starving because they had no bread,
she naively answered, “Let them eat cake!” While there is no evidence she ever said those words, she was nonetheless beheaded in the early days of the French Revolution.
But the legend lives on, and has come to symbolize a person who is spoiled and privileged, and out of touch with common people and everyday life—like a queen who would assume that someone who has run out of bread could eat cake instead.
It is a common failing of the rich and powerful.
Someone who has been raised in a wealthy family may have trouble understanding what it is like to work hard and still not be able to make ends meet. Politicians and presidents are sometimes lampooned because they don’t know how to use a grocery store scanner, or because they’re caught without cash in a sandwich shop. And then there’s the rest of us.
We get an overdraft notice or a shutoff notice, and we wonder if there’s anyone who really knows how bad that feels. Someone treats us like dirt, and we sense there’s no one else who truly understands how that feels. We doubt ourselves, disappoint ourselves, and think that no one could possibly identify with us.
If any of that is close to what it feels like to be you, you are not alone today. In fact, you couldn’t be less alone because of what God has to say to you through His Word today.
Today we begin a series of messages and worship experiences called “Who Do You Say I Am?” They are based on a movie called the Son of God, a dramatic portrayal of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as His message and mission. Each week we will be watching the depiction of a Bible passage as the creators of the Son of God movie rendered it, and then we will go to our Bibles to study and apply that part of Jesus’ story to our lives today.
The first incident we’ll see together is one that is found in Luke, chapter five:
PLAY video clip from The Son of God, “The Healing of the Paralytic.”
That incident appears in three of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We are going to study it from Luke, chapter 5, so please turn there now in your Bibles as I ask you: Did you notice in the video how Jesus referred to Himself? What name or title did He call himself?
Son of Man
You see it in verse 24:
“The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” —Luke 5:24, NIV
Jesus called himself the Son of Man. In fact, He is called “Son of Man” eighty-eight times in the New Testament.
“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” —Matthew 8:20, NIV
“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” —Matthew 12:8, NIV
And so on.
Many would have recognized it as a reference to the prophecy of Daniel, from hundreds of years earlier, who wrote:
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, NIV
When Jesus called himself “Son of Man,” He was making a clear reference to His identity as the promised Messiah.
But the phrase “Son of Man” also refers to the fact that Jesus shares in our humanity. God called the prophet Ezekiel “son of man” ninety-three times. In doing so, He wasn’t calling Ezekiel the Messiah; He was simply calling him a human being.
Of course, the Jews of Jesus’ day expected the Messiah to be fully human. Jesus did not surprise anyone by being human; He surprised them by being much more than fully human. And so the title, “Son of Man,” means that Jesus is not out of touch.
He knows what it’s like to work hard; He knows what a blister feels like. He knows what it’s like to have bills to pay; He helped support a single-parent family, after all. He knows what it’s like to face disappointment, rejection, betrayal, and grief. He knows what it’s like to be you. He is able to identify with you in your sorrows and sufferings, as well as in your pleasures and successes.