Why would you ever refer to yourself in the third person? That seems weird, doesn’t it? Well Jesus did several times in the gospels. “The Son of Man has authority to forgive sins.” Or, The Son of Man came drinking and eating.” What is up with that? Was He speaking in some secret code we are as believers in Yeshua are suppose to understand?
Actually there is a reason for it. Yeshua spent his entire life studying the Old Testament. His whole life was built upon it. So naturally it would makes since to find out from the Old Testament, Hebrew language and culture where He had picked up this strange way of speaking of Himself.
A quick search through the Old Testament for the term “Son of Man” reveals that it’s not a very common phrase, but when it is used, it means nothing more than “a person.” Big revelation there: a “son of man” is a person. It’s a poetic way to refer to a human being. However, there is one book in the Old Testament in which “Son of Man” is used pretty frequently. It is used by God himself in reference to a prophet named Ezekiel—over and over.
In fact, the term “Son of Man” appears in the book of Ezekiel about ninety-four times, more than in all the rest of the books of the Bible combined. Prophets were weird. Jonah got eaten by a fish. Elijah outran a horse. But Ezekiel was probably the weirdest. He didn’t want to be; it wasn’t his fault. God just kept giving him weirder and weirder things to do.
God asked Ezekiel to build a little model of Jerusalem to act out its coming destruction. He asked him to lie on his side for over a year. He asked him to shave his head and act out a little drama with the hair. He asked him to bake nasty bread over a poop-fueled fire. All the while, God kept calling him “Son of Man.”
There is another strange thing about Ezekiel. God told him to construct a replica of Jerusalem to prepare the people for attack. God gave him a vision of chariot with Angels looking like weird wild things. The word for chariot in Hebrew is “tank”. Here is a summary of Ezekiel 1: 4-14, “And out of the middle of the fire came some chayot. They looked kind of like people but with four faces, four wings, perfectly straight legs, and cow feet. They were really shiny. Under their wings they had hands. Each of them had one human face, one cow face, one eagle face, and one lion face. And there were glowing orbs going around between them, and they moved like lightning.”
You may ask when someone cries out to God for Him to show them His glory, why doesn’t he do it in all His manifest . Just like Moses had to turn away, it would scare the living life out of us. Why have we only been taught about this one time in scripture. Because we don’t understand Hebrew culture and background.
Remember when Jesus went out into the wilderness and fasted and was tempted by Satan for forty days?
Mark 1:12-13 records that event briefly: “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.”
The gospels were translated in Greek. Mark didn’t know Greek. He spoke Aramaic Hebrew. So during the time Yeshua was being tempted in the wilderness he was suppose to be surrounded by wild animals? Lions, tigers, bears, and the like? The word in Greek which was translated as wild beast is really “chayot” meaning “living creatures”.
Understanding this, the translators of the Delitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels rendered Mark 1:12-13 this way: “Quickly, the spirit brought him out to the wilderness. He was there in the wilderness forty days, and the satan tested him, and he was with the chayot, and the angels attended to him.” Is it possible that Jesus wasn’t fending off lions, tigers, and bears, but rather, that he had a supernatural vision of God’s chariot, like the one recorded in Ezekiel?
I believe that vision helped to shape Jesus’ self-understanding. He would have perceived from His deep understanding of Hebrew Culture and History that like Ezekiel, He was an appointed prophet, a man with an important message from God. Perhaps he felt some affinity with Ezekiel, who was also in the position of being a human being—a “son of man”—whose destiny was marked with cosmic significance. I am sure that it was a life-changing experience. At any rate, knowing more about the Son of Man, chayot, and Jewish literature and language has helped me to understand Jesus a little better. (excerpts taken from First Fruits of Zion)