2 Cor. 5:16
“Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.”
The world knew Christ at one time according to the flesh, when He came to Israel as Messiah (Rom. 9:5). He was rejected at that time, and they would not have Him as their King. The Holy Spirit through the apostle tells believers that we know Christ this way no longer. The title, the idea, and the promises of Messiah have been suspended and put aside by God. They have been that way for a long time. They will stay that way until, in the end, the Israeli remnant says, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 23:38-39). We also see in those scriptures that Israel will remain desolate, that they will not have a spiritual recovery and blessing from Jehovah until their Messiah comes to them again.
A Christ in the Flesh is a Messiah to Israel, and on the Earth
The title of Messiah is not the only thought associated with Christ coming according to the flesh. There are the various aspects of His humanity – born of a woman, born under the law, and the Son of Man sent from heaven. Also we understand that divinity took on flesh. The Son was sent to reveal what God in human flesh would look like, the words He would speak, the works He would do. But Christ coming to Israel according to the flesh [Rom. 9:5] certainly centers on the prophecies of the Messiah, and the many Messianic promises to this specific nation. Knowing Christ according to the flesh is as Messiah in Israel on this earth (II Cor.5:16). Man can no longer know Him this way, and He presently cannot be found as such. This all has been set aside.
A Christ in Glory is the Son of Man Raised and Glorified
But how is it that we know Christ, if we, as believers, know Him no longer according to the flesh? We only know Him now by and through His redemptive work as the Son of Man. We only know Him as a Man raised up from the dead (John 20:17). And more specifically, we know Him as He is now – Jesus Christ, the Son of Man glorified (Heb. 10:12).
“But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
Jesus Christ fully glorified God by His obedience to the cross and in completing the redemptive work. He did this while He was on the earth. He is the single grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies. This again is a symbolic picture of the redemptive work of the Son of Man, a work that He finishes alone, going down under death, and forsaken by God. This is so that in His glory He would not be alone, but the work producing much grain – many sons in the glory with Him, as His brethren – Rom. 8:29-30.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God
What we will find, if we are attentive to the scriptures, is that the Son of God was sent from heaven. Jesus Christ, in eternity past, was the only begotten Son, dwelling in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). It was the only begotten of the Father that was sent to this earth to dwell among men as the Word became flesh (John 1:14). When Jesus speaks of being sent and about the one who sent Him, He is referring to the Son being sent by the Father (John 10:36). This is true in the overwhelming majority of incidences in which He speaks of this (John 5:23, 36-38, 6:29, 38-40, 7:16-18, 28-29, 8:16-18, 42). This is the divinity of Christ, whereby He could say to the Jews, “Most assuredly…before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58).
The Son of God enters into the Counsels of God
We also find that the Son of Man came down from heaven (John 3:13). How are we to understand this? He is always the Son of God. But the Beloved Son has to enter into the counsels of God by taking up a title. He has to accomplish a specific work associated with that particular title, whether it involves Messiah or the Son of Man. It becomes clear, that the eternal Son took up the title of the Son of Man before He was sent and left heaven. How else would we be able to understand Jesus saying, “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before,” if He hadn’t taken up the title there? (John 6:62). And how could He be the Son of Man who is in heaven and then be speaking to Nicodemus? (John 3:13). When He says, “We speak what we know and testify what We have seen,” it is from the viewpoint of the Son being in heaven, having taken up the Son of Man title. The ‘We’ that is testifying to Nicodemus is the Son of God as the Son of Man. As for God’s counsels and the taking up this title, there was a Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The Lamb slain is the Son of Man – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
The Obedience of Christ – Two Distinct Works
We will consider now the obedience of Christ. It can be seen as two distinct exercises, two distinct workings. The Son of God shows obedience to the Father. But also we will see the Son of God in the role of the Son of Man, showing obedience to God. It is a unique and special obedience producing a work that alone is the foundation of all the counsels of God. I speak of the redemptive work – His death. This isn’t the only reason the Son of God was sent from heaven, but it is the only reason why the Son of Man came down (John 3:14, 12:23-24, and 34).
The performance and fulfillment of God’s will in redemption as the specific reason the Son of Man came from heaven (John 3:13-14, 6:53) is the emphasis of a portion of scripture found in Hebrews. This entire passage in Hebrews 10:1-12 is specifically about sacrifices and death, and the will of God concerning this in God’s counsels.
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’”
“Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,”
The Obedience of Jesus Christ, as the Son of Man – the eternal Sacrifice
There are many things here that are useful in identifying the Son of God taking up the title of the Son of Man, and coming to this earth. He says God prepared a body for Him. Also the phrase, ‘when He came into the world,’ is prominent. But verse 12 is unmistakable in its identification of the Son of Man in that it says, ‘But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever…’ The sacrifice for sins, the redemptive work, takes center stage as the performance of the will of God and fulfillment of all God’s purpose through this Man’s coming and mission (John 12:27-28). It is the commandment given by God to the Son, as the Son of Man to obey (John 14:31).
The will of God spoken of in the above passage has a very narrow focus that is important to see. This will is the desire of God for a sacrifice, one that would please God in finally addressing sin and putting it away (Heb. 9:26). God found no pleasure in all the sacrifices and offerings that came before, which were offered according to the law (Heb. 10:1). These previous sacrifices were mere shadows, having no substance, and no effective power or result. Not only did God desire a sacrifice to deal with sin, but also one He could take pleasure in. A sacrifice was needed that would fully glorify Him. It would have to be a perfect sacrifice, for God is holy and righteous. Sin would have to be dealt with in light of God’s own eternal nature. If this sacrifice was perfect, it would be eternal, never to be repeated, a finished work that would put an end to all that preceded it. The will of God spoken about in this passage is this sacrifice – the death of the Son of Man. His obedience to do this will is the obedience of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man (Heb. 10:10).
Jesus Christ fully glorified God by His suffering, crucifixion, and death. This is not the glorifying of the Son of Man. Instead it was the absolute glorifying of God by His obedience specifically to the cross and His drinking the cup of wrath from God (Luke 22:42-44).
The Obedience of the Son of God – Revealing the Father
There is another distinct obedience that Scripture points to concerning Jesus. It is the obedience of the Son to the Father. All the words He spoke were given to Him by the Father (John 14:10, 24, John 3:11-13, John 7:16, 8:26, 38, 40, 12:49-50). Also all the works He did were as He saw the Father doing (John 14:10-11, John 5:19-20, 36, John 8:28-29, 9:4, 35-37, 10:32, 37-38). These examples and scriptures show the Son’s obedience to and dependence on His Father (John 5:30, 6:38), and are the proof that He came from the Father (John 17:8, 8:42). The Son of God willingly assumes the role of servant to His Father. He never shows any independence from the Father, in order to perfectly reveal the Father and bring glory to Him.
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
The Son had glorified the Father on the earth by finishing the specific work of revealing the Father. This was the reason the Son was sent by the Father. He revealed the Father by speaking the Father’s words and doing the Father’s works (John 5:19-20). The Son alone could do all this because He alone knew the Father (John 10:15, Luke 10:22). This is the divinity of the Son, taking on human flesh, so to bring a greater revelation of God into the world. He does not ever do His own will, but always the will of His Father, thus revealing the Father (John 5:30, 6:38).
We know the above passage is about the Son of God, because only the Father and the Son had life in each other, and could give it to whomever they desired (John 5:21, 26, 6:44, 10:28-29). But also the passage speaks of the glory He had with the Father before the world began – this was as the Son of God, in eternity past. He speaks of re-entering this previous glory. Important note – the truth concerning all the counsels of God, from this point forward, is that the Son of God re-enters the glory now, eternally, as the Son of Man. When the Son came from heaven, a body was prepared for Him, and He took up the title of the Son of Man forever – Jesus Christ, Son of God, as the Son of Man.
When Jesus was speaking in the above passage, the work of the Son perfectly revealing the Father was already finished – “I have glorified You on the earth, I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” This is not the same thing He was speaking of earlier when He said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” This is the Son of Man glorifying God (John 13:31-32), not the Son glorifying the Father (John 17:4). And the work of the Son of Man was still ahead of Him, waiting to be accomplished. It is the Man who glorifies God, by the appeasing and propitiating of God, through the sacrifice of Himself. It is the Son who glorifies the Father, by revealing Him.
The Life of Christ – the Father always with the Son and in the Son
In His walk on this earth, He was the Son of God with the Father abiding in Him. This is an important point of doctrine. He walked as God in human flesh – the Son of God. In His walk He never was separated from His Father. The Father always lived and abided in Him (John 10:38). He revealed the Father as the only one who has ever seen the Father (John 6:46) or known Him (John 10:15). This is not walking as the Son of Man. There is a distinct difference between these two forms of obedience. One is done by God – the Son, voluntarily taking on the role of servant to the Father — so to perfectly reveal the Father, as only the Son had the experience and ability to do. The other obedience is done by Man, and that accomplished by the Man alone (Heb. 10:12).
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
Only the Son had the Father dwelling in Him to perfectly reflect the image of the Father to the disciples (John 12:45). Only God could reveal God. You have seen the Father, if you have seen Me; you know the Father, if you know Me. From now on you know Him and have seen Him. It is the Son who reveals and declares to the disciples the Father’s name (John 17:6, 26). And it is the Son who gives the disciples the Father’s very words as given to Him (John 17:8) – proof that the Father sent the Son and that Jesus is, in fact, the only begotten Son of God (John 1:18).
The Son of Man glorifies God by the Cross – a Work He does alone
However, when Jesus speaks of the Son of Man glorifying God (John 13:31-32), it is not at all a reference to the Son revealing the Father. It is not a reference to the Son’s obedience to only speak the Father’s words and only do the works He saw the Father doing. It is not a reference to His walk on this earth as the Son – the Word become flesh. That which was the means of absolutely glorifying God was the work the Son of Man accomplished on His own, apart and forsaken by God. This was what He does on the cross alone. His experience on the cross is as Man – the wrath of God poured out on Him, the power of Satan present, the sins of men borne, and the hatred of the world against Him. He is made sin in the flesh on the cross by God. It was all accomplished in isolation, all on His own. The three hours on the cross was the propitiation – the debt fully paid to God for an eternal redemption for those who believe (Rom. 3:24-25). It alone perfectly establishes the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:26). How is this? By the cross and His death, His blood being shed, God has perfectly and eternally dealt with the sins of man, as well as sin in the flesh. It is the means by which God remains just, in and of Himself, and yet becomes the justifier of men (Rom. 3:26). The cross was the absolute glorifying of God by the Son of Man.
As the Son of Man in the counsels of God, He came from heaven to do the will of God — the redemptive work. As Man there was anguish in His soul, for He possessed a complete human nature. Without attempting to get too deep in thoughts and doctrine that easily become unprofitable, we can understand that the humanity of Christ was not from the first Adam and in a sense quite special. That which was born in Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God. I Cor. 15:47 also tells us, “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is from heaven.” As the Scriptures declare, the Son of Man had a body prepared for Him (Heb. 10:5-7).
This explains His humanity which was paramount to the redemptive work of the Son of Man. It is not as easy to explain the anguish He felt in His soul, in view of impending events soon to take place in Jerusalem. We could point to His humanity and that He was the Son of Man. But He was first and foremost the Son of God, who was eternally in the bosom of the Father God. The impending events – His suffering, crucifixion, and death – would be accomplished as forsaken by His Father. This would be the first time ever in all eternity.
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”
Notice Jesus says, “…save Me from this hour?” The work of the Son of Man was for a certain point in time – the three hours on the cross. This is when the Son of Man is lifted up (John 12:32). His walk on the earth was as the Son of God. This is different. This was not redemptive. There was obedience by the Son to the Father’s will, but this is not propitiation. It is not substitutionary, and it is not the display of the righteousness of God. His obedience as the Son is blessed and perfect, certainly glorifying the Father. We marvel at what it shows and reveals, but we cannot make it something it is not. This obedience is not the work of the Son of Man in redemption. It is not the work of the Son of Man in the counsels of God.
“So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.”
This is the glorifying of God by the Son of Man. It is by His death we have redemption and propitiation. The Son of Man glorifying God is the foundational work by which all the counsels of God will be brought forth and fulfilled. The Son of God revealing the Father, however perfectly this revelation was, is not the working out of the counsels of God. These verses in John 13 strictly involve God’s counsels for two reasons. First, it is the title of the Son of Man spoken of, and the redemptive work of this Man referred to. Second, it is God specifically being glorified by this work, and not said to be the glorifying of the Father. It is God who had to be propitiated. It is God who had to be satisfied by what was done in judging sin in the flesh of man (II Cor. 5:21). It is God’s righteousness that is fully brought out by His own holy and righteous judgment of Christ on the cross. This simply is not a revelation of the Father by the Son of God, but rather God’s very own counsels being established in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man.
What I am attempting to say in the above paragraph is that in Scripture, the Holy Spirit has different and distinct uses for the word Father apart from the word God. Christ was made to be sin by God, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. The Holy Spirit never uses the term ‘the righteousness of the Father’ in Scripture. The blood of Christ is the propitiation before God, to demonstrate God’s righteousness. It is not said that the Father remains just and becomes the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:23-26). The name of the Father is connected to the Son of God being sent, and what the Son reveals of Him. The name of the Father is always associated with the many sons, in blessing, grace, and the relationship of sonship. These are the ones the Father has made accepted in the Beloved Son (Eph. 1:5-6). Yet Christ’s title of the Son of Man is connected with glorifying God through the redemptive work He accomplishes. The Son of Man is associated with God judging sin, and He remaining holy and righteous while doing so.
As a reminder to the reader, none of this is Messianic in its character and nature. Even though the two titles, Messiah and the Son of Man, are both in the counsels of God, this glorifying of God is obviously only associated with the Son of Man. And we can readily see from these verses that God’s counsels concerning the Son of Man do not end with Him in the grave. It says that God will glorify Him, and do so immediately. This is what this book is mostly about – what relationship and association the believer has, in the counsels of God, with the Son of Man in glory.
The Counsels of God – Messiah, Israel, Prophecy, the Earth, and Time, all presently set aside
Messiah, as a title and work, has been set aside for the present time in the counsels of God. Israel as well, has been set aside. Their house will remain desolate until… And just an added thought would be the idea that prophecy, the earth, and time are set aside in the counsels of God as well. It is simply that, in God’s counsels, these five things are inseparably linked together. Nevertheless, for this purpose, the Son of Man came to this hour, that is, to give His life and die.
Here are a few more scriptures concerning the obedience of Jesus as both the Son of God and the Son of Man.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
As we can see, this is the Son of God sent into the world to reveal the Father – therefore He says, “This is the will of the Father…” Also of note in this passage is the understanding that eternal life exists in the Father and in the Son (John 5:26), and that they give this life to whomever they will. Eternal life existing in the Son now has a connection to the title and work of the Son of Man. The Son is the bread of life come down from heaven (John 6:32-33, 35-40); but now it only comes to man by eating the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man (John 6:53-58).
“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”
Here we can easily see how the Son of God always takes the position of servant to the Father; He always is obedient to the will of the Father so as to fully show only the Father to the world.
The Son of God as the Son of Man
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,”
“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.”
These two passages together show another connection between the Son and the Son of Man. In the first statement, all judgment is committed to the Son of God. Now this means absolutely all judgment, even the great white throne at the end of the millennial reign of the Son of Man. The second statement links the exercise of this judgment by the Son of God to His title and role as the Son of Man. It is the position of all human individuals in relation to the redemptive work of the Son of Man that is the basis of all His judgment. The Son has authority to execute judgment because he is the Son of Man.
“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
The obedience of the Son to speak only the words given to Him by the Father is viewed by Him as a command from the Father to be obeyed. This obedience was perfect; yet we can only view it as divinity within divinity, the Father abiding in the Son and the Son in the Father (John 14:10-11). “And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.” This is the Son speaking, and in a great sense, referring to His own divinity (John 12:45).
“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.”
Here, I believe, the redemptive work is in view for the ruler of this world is coming. The commandment and the obedience are to the cross by the Son of Man, or at least, the Son of God, as the Son of Man. I’ve endeavored to distinguish between the two areas of obedience of Christ. What I hope the reader sees and understands is that the work of the Son of Man, those three hours on the cross, was a very unique display of obedience by Man; that those three hours have no equal. As the Son of God in the role of the Son of Man on the cross, He was without the Father for the first and last time, in all eternity. By this specific work, all God’s counsels for man will be accomplished. It is the foundation of all blessing for man.
The Son of Man is glorified by God
Having a better understanding of how God was fully glorified, we now turn to the glorifying of the Son of Man by God. This is the second part of the portion from John 13 that we considered earlier in this chapter, and so we’ll look at it again.
“So when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.”
We have seen that God was glorified completely by Him, and so God will glorify the Son of Man, in Himself. How? The Son of Man glorified God, by obedience in suffering, crucifixion, and death. And we will see that God glorifies Him by resurrection, ascension, and exaltation. This glorifying is easily seen in many scriptures, but is succinctly brought out in Ephesians 1;
“…according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”
It is the Father’s mighty power working towards Christ in raising Him and exalting Him. This is how God, in turn, glorified the Son of Man. And this has to be Jesus Christ as the Son of Man (not the title and character of Messiah), who obediently chose to go down into death, bearing sins and being made sin. And it is the Father, by His mighty power, that brings Christ up out of death and into glory. This is what the above verses are clearly teaching.
The Resurrected Son of Man and the Glorified Body
In the above passage Christ is distinctly depicted in the title and character of the Son of Man, only now it is Man after resurrection and placed in God’s glory (the entire book of Ephesians shows Christ from this viewpoint). There are three understandings that show this truth about the above passage. First, as we mentioned previously, it is the Son of Man that went down into death, and therefore, He is the same Man that is raised. He is the object of the Father’s mighty power working in resurrection. Second, He is raised in a glorified human body that He sits down in at the right hand of God. In I Cor. 15, we see an entire chapter that speaks of spiritual truths associated with the Son of Man. Chief among these truths is how the resurrection of the Son of Man is the genesis of the resurrection of all believers – those who are Christ’s (I Cor. 15:23). In this chapter in Corinthians we see a description of the glorified human body the Son of Man has now, as ‘Christ the first fruits’ from the dead (v.20, 23);
1 Cor. 15:42-43
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.”
The Son of Man – the Glorified Man of Psalm 8
Then there is this third understanding. All of Psalm 8 is about the Son of Man. You might read that psalm and think it is about Adam, and in a limited sense it is. But remember, Adam is only a type of the last Adam, the Son of Man, who is Jesus Christ. Paul, by the Spirit of God, partially quotes this very psalm in three different places in his epistles, identifying Christ as the glorified Man of Psalm 8. In the above passage from Ephesians (1:22) we have Ps. 8:6 partially quoted, “And He put all things under His feet…” Christ, raised from the dead and exalted, is the Man of this prophetic psalm. This same verse is quoted again in I Cor. 15:27, the Son of Man chapter on resurrection. But even further, a passage from Ps. 8 is found in the second chapter of Hebrews where it becomes crystal clear that Jesus Christ is this glorified Man.
“But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
But we see Jesus…crowned with glory and honor. This is how we see Him presently. Even though we had known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. How do we now know Christ? In His own words, ‘Now the Son of Man is glorified.’
The Son of Man Glorified – no longer lower than the Angels
Before leaving this passage in Hebrews 2, there is an important understanding about the glorifying of Christ that has consequences for the believer. In verse 9 it says Jesus was (past tense) made a little lower than the angels. This was for a certain period of time (that which we commonly call His humiliation) and for a specific reason in the counsels of God –for the suffering of death. But we have already noticed that after He is raised, in His exaltation as the Son of Man, the Father has placed Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion (Eph. 1:20-21). He is no longer a little lower than the angels. He is far above them now. And important for our understanding is that Jesus was lower then, as the Son of Man in his humiliation, but exalted higher now, as the Son of Man glorified.
The Son of Man title in the counsels of God is something wonderful for the believer to behold. From the point in time that Jesus was nailed and lifted up on the cross, He would be inseparably linked to that title and counsels. He is the Son of Man for the suffering of death. As Man, He bears our sins on the tree. As Man, He endures the full wrath of God against sin. He goes down under death, the power of Satan. As Man, He is raised from the dead. His resurrected body is as a Man glorified. He ascends up into the heavens as a Man, far above all principalities and power. As a Man He sits down at the right hand of God. It is not difficult for the believer to see the importance of these truths in God’s counsels towards us.
Jesus being lifted up as the Son of Man on the cross, and the three hours until His death, is the foundation of all the work contained in the counsels of God. His death is the means by which many sons are brought into the glory. Further, it is the basis for securing all Messianic promises to Israel – the sure mercies of David (Isaiah 55:3, Acts 13:34). We will even be made to know that the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwells righteousness, are founded on the work of this Man.
Without getting into a technical theological discussion, I trust the believer can see how it is Christ, in this title of the Son of Man, who was made perfect through sufferings (Heb. 2:10). Also He learned obedience (Heb. 5:8), He is the firstborn from among the dead (Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5, I Cor. 15:20, 23), and He came into the world having a body prepared for Him so to do the will of God (Heb. 10:5-7). There are many more scriptures that could be referenced concerning Christ in His role as the Son of Man. Philippians 2 succinctly tells the story of the Second Adam from start to finish,
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This is the Son of Man in His humiliation, and then exalted by God. The end of verse 11 indicates that this all is for the glory of God. At this present time the Son of Man is in the glory of God, sitting on the right hand of the Father’s throne (Rev. 3:21). As believers we have to see and comprehend that Christ, in the title and role of the Son of Man does all these things. And after completing the work of redemption, the one-time sacrifice that is forever, He sits at the right hand of God as the Son of Man. The importance of this understanding is crucial. And as Jesus identified His suffering and death with the title of the Son of Man, so also He identifies for us the title and character in which He sits at the right hand of the Father.
“Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
“Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
He indicated such in John 13:32, “…God will also glorify Him (the Son of Man) in Himself (in God). The following is a similar thought with a slight difference. I am repeating this teaching from earlier in the chapter for the reader because of its importance, and because it is simply exciting.
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
The Son of God re-enters His Glory, as a Man
The glory He had with the Father before the world existed is His glory as the Son of God. This is a glory related to His person, to who He is eternally. But the significant understanding here is, that He re-enters this glory now, as the glorified Man – as the Son of Man glorified – and this according to the counsels of God, not according to His person.
This is the story of the Son of Man. This is the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ. This is how we, as believers, know Him now. We know Him in resurrection power. We know Him as the King of the kingdom of heaven, ascended up on high. We know Him as the exalted Man sitting down on the right hand of the throne of His Father. We know Him as glorified in the very glory of God. We know Him as crowned with glory and honor. We know Him as the firstborn among many brethren. So appropriately, we find in II Corinthians;
2 Cor. 4:3-4
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
This is the gospel of the glory of Christ, the gospel of the glorifying of the Son of Man. This is the gospel preached by Paul, knowing Christ no longer after the flesh, but a Christ only now found in the glory at the right hand of God. There is no longer a veil over the glory of God. There always was in the Old Testament tabernacle and over Moses’ face (II Cor. 3:7, 13). In Christ however, the veil is taken away. I have to repeat this point – Jesus Christ is in the glory at the right hand of God. He is there as the Son of Man raised and glorified. He is there as Man, which teaches us that He is not there for Himself. He is there absolutely and completely on our behalf (the believer). It is the means, in the counsels of God, by which God brings man into His presence eternally, into the glory. It is that a Man has made the way, and this Man is there now as a Forerunner for us.
The Glorified Son of Man – the Forerunner for the Believer into the Presence of God
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The believer’s hope goes in there, behind the veil, because the Forerunner is already there ahead of us. Our hope, as the Spirit implies, is absolute, sure, and steadfast, resting on the fact that the Son of Man is there already. And it was all for us. God’s love, before the foundation of the world, in His very counsels, was set on the believer, with all intention and purpose on His part to bring this to pass (Eph. 1:3-4). This line of thought is what believers need to grasp.
Allow me to make a distinction here for better understanding of this passage. It speaks of this as our hope. If we are spiritually taught, we know that any hope which is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance (Rom. 8:24-25). With this thought, we understand that the above passage from Hebrews isn’t referring to the believer in prayer; it is not our coming boldly to the throne of grace to obtain help in time of need, which is for our walk on this earth. What is the true hope? It is that all believers in Christ will be brought into the very presence of God. This isn’t in our prayers now, but physically into the Father’s house and the Father’s glory. This is what we truly wait for, in our walk on the earth, with perseverance. We see more in another place in Hebrews;
“For the Christ is not entered into holy places made with hand, figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us:”
It is for us, the believer. It was always for us. It was not in any way for Himself. The sins were not His own, they did not belong to Him. But for man to come into the Presence, into the glory, God would have to deal with the sins of man and sin in the flesh of man. The first Adam brought the human race into sin and it was proven, man had no way out. God would have to make a way for man. In dealing with the sins, God would have to fully judge them all if He was to remain just (Rom. 3:26). This He does through the death of Jesus Christ. This is how the righteousness of God is demonstrated in the cross (Rom. 3:25), and how it is contained in the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). And again in Hebrews we see this;
“…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”
Christ bore our sins and died, by which God has judged and condemned it all. Christ has purged our sins and left them down in death. He could not still have them and sit down in the presence of God. That would not be possible. He sits down as having completed the work. (Compare Heb. 10:11 with Heb. 10:12 – earthly priests always standing to this Man sat down, having finished the work for ever). He sits down there as Man, the righteousness of God and brought into the glory. God’s righteousness has been displayed in putting the Man who bore the believer’s sins at His right hand in glory. For the believer then, Christ is our righteousness before the face of God. This is where the gospel in its fullness begins. And until He sat down at God’s right hand, the Holy Spirit was not sent down (John 7:38-39).
By the Son of Man, the Believer will enter the Presence and Glory of God
Jesus did this all as the Son of Man, so that He could share this glory with us (John 17:22). He certainly had this glory as God before time began (John 17:5). But He did not hold on to it as something to be grasped, and lowered Himself in taking on flesh and coming into this world (Heb. 10:5-9, Phil. 2:6-8). But He re-enters it here, raised and exalted, as the glorified Man (Eph. 1:20-21). We were the ones always falling short of the presence of God, the glory of God. But God, in His counsels before time began, purposed to make a way, and Jesus, as the Son of Man came from heaven to fulfill this plan, to do the will of God, and accomplish the work. Here we have this understanding;
2 Timothy 1:9-10
“…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,”
We are in Christ by God’s grace and purpose, before time even began. This simply is an incredible and exciting thought. This is the gospel of the glory of Christ. And believers are intimately associated with it, for we are forever in Christ.
The Believer will be conformed into His Image and Perfection
2 Corinthians 4:6-7
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
All the glory that God possesses, and all God is in essence, shines forth in the face of Jesus. For believers there is no veil over this glory. All believers, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the (very) same image from glory to glory (emphasis added by author – 2 Cor. 3:18).
The only perfection placed before the believer is conformity to Christ in glory. He is the believer’s life, for Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20) and He is in the glory. The perfection of the glorified Son of Man in heaven is what the believer looks at and stares at, knowing we will be conformed to His image when the time comes. It will be then and only then that we will be made perfect – holy and without blame before the Father (Eph. 1:4). This is the holiness of God required of man to enter into His presence; presently Christ, in glory, is the full expression of man being brought into the glory of God.
The believer’s calling in Christ is a heavenly one (Heb. 3:1). It is so, because that is where Christ is, the object of this calling. It is not a Christ on the earth or in His humiliation, but the Son of Man perfect in glory, in the heavens. We have no other calling at all except to a risen and glorified Christ. There is no other kind of model of holiness for the saint other than the image of Christ seated at the right hand of God. What God puts before all believers to look at is exactly this. The glorified Man is the image we will be conformed into. It is the only Christ there is (for we know Christ after the flesh no longer), and so, the only proper object of our calling.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
While we walk on this earth, we are to be like Him as much as possible. Beholding Him in glory, we are changed. When we look at and dwell on Christ now, we become every day more and more like Him. It is our contemplation of the Lord in glory that has a sanctifying power in our lives (I John 3:2-3). And how does this happen? “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth,” (John 17:17). God’s word is the only means He employs to change the believer from glory to glory. For the believer the veil has been taken away and we behold the full glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the glorified Man. This is the gospel of the glory.