Son of Man in Enoch

Did any texts refer to a messianic figure as “the son of man” before the Gospels? There may have been.

Jesus designated himself “the son of man” more than 80 times according to the Gospels, even though this phrase was not a messianic title in Jewish literature before his time. But there may be an intriguing exception: a book known as 1 Enoch. Continue reading “Son of Man in Enoch”

Son of Man in Daniel

What does ‘son of man’ mean in Daniel 7? Does this help us understand why Jesus used ‘son of man’ to describe himself?

Open Daniel 7.

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV)
13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Was Jesus alluding to this text when he called himself Son of Man more than 80 times? Was Jesus claiming to be the promised Messiah who would restore God’s reign?

There is a connection, but it isn’t quite that simple. If you make a messianic leap without first understanding the richness of the Old Testament texts, the story falls apart. Ask: Continue reading “Son of Man in Daniel”

Free course: Holy Spirit and You

If you had to say everything that had to be said about the Holy Spirit in six sessions, what would you focus on? Which Scriptures would you choose?

Theology must be practical. Theology tells us the Holy Spirit is a person, so how do we relate to him? What is this Person doing? How do we partner with him? What does it look like to do life with him?

Those questions drive the agenda for live sessions (not blog topics) over the next six Monday evenings: Continue reading “Free course: Holy Spirit and You”

Introducing the Son of Man

Why did Jesus call himself ‘the son of man’? Do you understand him as he understood himself?

Jesus called himself the son of man. Matthew 8:20 is the first time, but Jesus regularly describes himself this way in the Gospels: more than 80 times! Why would Jesus think of himself primarily as the descendant of humanity? Isn’t everybody? What did he mean?

The question of Jesus’ identity is among the most important we could ask. If we don’t understand Jesus the way he understood himself, what chance do we have of understanding what he said and what he did? Continue reading “Introducing the Son of Man”

The decision moment with Jesus (Matthew 8:18-22)

There’s a disconnect between the way Jesus called people to discipleship and the way we do it.

Open Matthew 8:18-22.

Jesus had great sensitivity to people. Especially hurting people. But some of the language he used for gospel invitations would make you cringe.

Like, “teach people to obey my commands” (Matthew 28:19). People don’t like being commanded; they like to make their own decisions. Surely we’d be more successful if we just asked them to invite Jesus into their hearts, for a personal makeover.

There was this scribe who came up to Jesus and said, “Teacher, I’ll follow you wherever you go” (8:19). How good is that? Scribes didn’t do that. They knew the Old Testament intimately, but they often weren’t keen on Jesus. So here’s a guy making a well-informed commitment to follow Jesus, wherever it takes him. Most pastors would be over the moon to have this guy’s response.

But Jesus pushes back. Effectively, he says, “You don’t realize what you’re committing yourself to. I don’t think you’ve got what it takes. Go away and reconsider” (compare 8:20). Ouch. Not great technique?

It gets worse. Continue reading “The decision moment with Jesus (Matthew 8:18-22)”

True believers, in the land of Oz

How are we doing with representing God’s kingdom in Australia?

A funny thing happened on the way to the kingdom. We thought big-name evangelists like Billy Graham could save the world. We thought recounting healings would convince people that God’s alive and well. Think again. Now only half the Aussie population (52%) call themselves “Christian.” Just 50 years ago, it was 9 out of 10 (88%).

What happened? Perhaps we should ask them. McCrindle Research did just that. They asked Aussies what attracted them to faith, and what turned them off. Want to know what answers they got? Continue reading “True believers, in the land of Oz”

Jesus the healer (Matthew 8:14-17)

What kind of ruler rectifies evil by curing his people?

Open Matthew 8:14-17.

We’ve seen how factions of the church respond differently to the healing stories in the Gospels, and we raised the question of whether the gospel of the kingdom can bring us together. Let’s read this through the kingdom lens: Continue reading “Jesus the healer (Matthew 8:14-17)”

Can the kingdom gospel bring us together?

A liberal, an evangelical, and a charismatic walked into a bar. Secretly, the evangelical hoped his elders didn’t see him talking to the other two. Especially in a bar. They were already locked in a debate about healing when Mary arrived. “Sorry I’m late.” Continue reading “Can the kingdom gospel bring us together?”

What does the way you read reveal about you?

Ever wondered why you see the Bible one way, and others see it a different way?

Open Matthew 8:14-17.

Are you aware of the assumptions you bring to the text when you read? In this post, we’ll ask you to consider the presuppositions you bring, and how other people may read the same text differently, approaching it with different assumptions.

Consider this example:

Matthew 8:14–17 (NIV)
14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. 16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” 

You may find it challenging to consider other perspectives, but stick with us: the benefits are improved self-awareness, and improved communication with others. Continue reading “What does the way you read reveal about you?”